36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] Matt 22:37-3934 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Last week in church we began a series titled "The Reckless Ones" and essentially it's about challenging us as Christians to love more like Christ. Statistics show that there is an increasing number of people who identify themselves as atheist or no longer go to church. One of the major reasons for this is that Christians today don't love as Christ loved. Religion has complicated what Jesus made simple. We took the 10 commandments and turned them into hundreds of laws, most of which people can't even seem to agree upon. Now there are things that Jesus requests of us that aren't included in the 10 commandments but you get the point. We have so many rules and regulations and we condemn so many people that they can't see the love of God through us, they only see judgement and condemnation. Even Christ himself did not come to condemn us but to save us and because of his grace he declared us righteous, not because of anything we did or anything we changed about ourselves (Refer to "Living a life of thank you" blog entry about god's grace).
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3This tells us that whatever we SAY, KNOW, BELIEVE, GIVE, AND DO means NOTHING if we don't love. As Christians today we are educated beyond our obedience. We bounce from church to church for "deeper" teachings and study and memorize scripture and modify what we eat and what time of day we deem holy and condemn those who sin but still aren't obedient to the most simple request God asked of us which was to love.
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11
We throw the term "love" around so loosely that it's desensitized...it's lost it's meaning. "I love your shoes!" "I love ice cream" "I love God" "I love my kids" One of the things I've noticed is that today our love is conditional. As kids we are only nice to those who are nice to us, as adults we enter into relationships and as soon as one of the conditions of the relationship is broken we divorce or end friendships. Some of us have probably lost out on some really great friends over something petty. Part of loving is learning to forgive without keeping record of wrongs...just as God has forgiven us. We then go to church and are educated beyond our obedience quoting almost every scripture ever written posting it to our facebook, instagram, and twitter accounts and yet we don't reflect his love in our lives. We don't associate ourselves with people who don't love just like us or live just like us. The truth is that we are to learn to love UNconditionally as Christ did. Jesus dined and hung out with murderers, prostitutes, sinners, etc and he never condemned them he only loved them and through his love and grace they were changed and followed him. His love covered their sins. One thing that we mistaken as Christians is that if we associate with these types of people we are somehow condoning what they do and that couldn't be further from the truth. For one, if we're honest most Christians were probably out participating as a side kick. You can accept someone and love someone without always approving of what they do.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us". Roman 5:8
THE ONLY THING THAT CAN CONVICT SOMEONE AND TRANSFORM THEIR HEART IS THE HOLY SPIRIT. You shoving scripture at someone, judging, or condemning them is not going to change them. We are to love them just as Christ loved us while we were and still are out sinning so that just as God's love and mercy has covered and forgiven our sins we can mirror that same love to someone else. Our love is proof that He even existed to people who don't know Christ. I have fallen victim of trying to get people to change for God but what I had to realize is that I'm not the holy spirit. All I can do is love people. tell them how good God is and who He is, and pray for them and treat them right...God will work out their salvation and convict their hearts and even then it's still up to them to work out their own salvation. Truth be told I'm still working out my own salvation. No one's perfect...no one. We're all in this together but we can encourage each other and lift each other up in love. Loving makes it that much easier for people to be willing to accept Christ and follow Him. You can still tell people about themselves but in EVERYTHING you do, do it in love.
Ok I'm done. I feel like this entry is a tad bit all over the place but hopefully you guys at least somewhat get what I'm trying to say. Most times I just type as things come to mind so ideas may seem sporadic. Anywho, I'm in the process of learning how to love but I'll most certainly share what I learn along the way. I'm excited about the next 6 weeks and all that it has in store. Peep the YouTube video below...I heard this song at church and again on the radio here in Nashville and fell in love with lyrics and couldn't think of a song more fitting for this entry :)
PS - for starters if you want to learn more of what love looks like check out 1 Corinthians 13