Beloved in the Beloved
“to the praise of His glorious grace with which he has blessed us in the Beloved One.”
In the absolute sense, who is the beloved of God? Jesus. Does that mean that Christians are not beloved by God? Not at all; we are regularly called God’s beloved within the Scriptures (e.g. Romans 9:25; Ephesians 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Jude 1). Yet, why is it that Christians are beloved of God? It is because believers are in his Son, Jesus. From beginning to end, the love of God is intimately tied and bound to Christ and to His glory alone.
As a result of this notion of us being beloved because we are in the one who is ultimately Beloved in the most absolute sense of the term, the word “beloved” has taken on rich meaning within the Christian church. Repeatedly, the New Testament authors refer to their audience or to their fellow Christian workers as being “beloved.” In fact, the New Testament authors address the church or individual Christians as “beloved” about 50 times, which is about a third as often as the term “brothers” is used in the epistles to speak of fellow believers.
As a result of this frequency, we must recognize that this term is more than just a phrase that we use; it ought to also guide us in the way we relate toward one another. Yes, the true church is beloved of God, but within the true church, true Christians ought to be beloved of one another. Sadly, how often that is not the case. How often sects and rivalries develop within a church body where people vie for influence rather than treating one another as beloved. How often the body gathers, beloved is anything but the term that they would use to describe one another or that the pastor would use to describe them.
And in cases where there is so much dissension and division within a given church body, Paul’s language here ought to call us to terms. Why have we been blessed in the beloved one? Paul writes that it is to the praise of God’s glorious grace. In other words, the aim of God pouring out his love upon us has nothing to do with us and has everything to do with his Son and driving us to worship. And so, perhaps the next time you are inclined to begrudge the beloved in your midst the love and affection that ought to be shown to them, ask yourself, “is God being praised by my attitude?” If not, then repent; you, who are beloved of God, repent.