Tag: Love Each Other (page 1 of 3)

How Community Heals


In the book of Mark, Jesus is asked: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.Mark 12:28-31

I use to believe that obeying the Greatest Commandment, to love God and love your neighbor, began with learning how to love God and allowing that love to compel you to love your neighbor. This common model is one that many Christians operate under. I am not arguing that we shouldn’t live under them, we must. However, this two-fold commandment begins with learning to love God and then allowing that love to prompt us to love our neighbor.

Loving God as a singular command is fairly abstract. It may take some time to learn to love Someone that is invisible and intangible. And because figuring out how to love an intangible God can be difficult, we may approach loving our neighbor with an attitude of duty. I have seen this “attitude of duty” lead many Christians to burnout and frustration. So what could be the answer to learning to love our neighbor without an “attitude of duty?”

I believe the answer lies in Jesus’ new command, to love each other, and thus in community. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Jesus could have asked us to do our best to love each other. He could have even left it at “love your neighbor” since that pretty much covers everyone. But instead, He made sure to tell us that He was giving His followers a new commandment. I’m confident that Jesus gave us this command (“…love one another”) so that we would have an environment to receive healing and be restored to wholeness – to equip us to obey His command to love God and love our neighbor.

Christian community allows us to learn to love others in the safety of the body of Christ. It is in this community where we practice the love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13. Community is where the fruit of the Spirit is cultivated. It is where we practice confession and healing prayer as instructed in James 5, in the company of our brothers and sisters.

The essential elements of community allow the Holy Spirit to bring us to a place of healing and wholeness. When we become healed and whole, we are able to love our Christian brothers and sisters as He desires. As we learn to love, we become better equipped to love our neighbor, which is the outward expression of our love for God; in essence we are loving the Lord our God, with all our heart, soul and mind. We are able to care for widows and orphans in their affliction, which becomes a natural outpouring of the love that exists in our community.

As we become the likeness of Christ, we become better equipped for every good work of His ministry (i.e. loving others.) Growing our love for God points to and glorifies Him. This is God restoring us to wholeness as a means for caring for others and for the purpose of lifting Him up.

And it is this “real religion” that honors God and reflects wholeness in Christ. It is here we begin to fulfill Christ’s declaration in John 13:35, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is in that fulfillment that we reveal wholeness and invite others to receive the same.

Loved People, Love People. (2015)

loved people love peopleI messed up. When I wrote Monday’s post, Loved People, I was supposed to stick to the idea that although God loves everyone, as Christians we’re aware of this truth and we can find wholeness and peace in that. I didn’t. Instead, I went off on a tangent about how because we know we’re loved and we’ve experienced the joy of that, we ought to be compelled to love others. That should have been this post. But, I’m not sorry. Over the last few years I’ve gotten to a place where I can’t separate the two. In this post I’ll just expand on Monday’s.

The thing about love is that humans have turned it into a feeling. I’m convinced it’s not. Inarguably there are feelings that accompany love, but as a feeling all it’s own, that doesn’t do love justice. I say that for a couple reasons. The first is found in how feelings surrounding love change. The love I feel for my wife now, as opposed to when we first met, feels totally different. When I look at her now my love has solidarity and carries the weight and depth of years of struggle and success. I look at her differently. We talk with each other differently.  Our love for each other is more mature, though still maturing further, but it’s far more mature than it was on our wedding day. The second is that feelings ebb and flow based on circumstance. If love was simply a feeling, the cross might have looked different. But, for Jesus to still display love, while He hung there, torn to shreds, dying, surely that is more than a feeling. At the least, it was a conscious decision and the most, it’s something we can’t even understand, but still get to experience. I’ll agree that love is in part a collection of feelings, albeit different ones at different time, but what makes love actually love, is the action that accompanies those feelings.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, love begets love. If we are a loved people, and we know that, we have to love others. There’s no exception; Jesus doesn’t leave room for it. For those that are business, or even process minded, think of it in terms of Vision | Mission | Strategy.

Vision: 1 Timothy 2:3-4

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Mission: Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Strategy: Matthew 22:37-39 & John 13:35

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

If God desires all to be saved and Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations, teaching them all He commanded, so that they’ll teach it, then the strategy that He developed around that is love. His strategy is not just drenched in love, it is love. All that He taught revolved around healing, caring for others, turning the other cheek, goodness toward our neighbor in spite of their intent. And all of that requires love as the plan of action. What Jesus introduced was higher level thinking in the area of glorifying God. It revolved around acknowledging our inability to make good on our sins and instead reoriented our attention toward relieving the burden of others, through acts of love. It’s the only reason we’re still here and He hasn’t returned; that all might be saved.

Love is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry.

Tweet: Love is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. #ApproachGod http://ctt.ec/hDXxu+ vis @bpags2

You can argue theology. You can twist scripture to support what and who you think God hates. You can even put your own spin on what is required for salvation (but, to be clear, it’s by grace through faith alone, both a gift from God). But, you cannot argue that Jesus was not a minister of love. If God is love and Jesus is God and Jesus is the cornerstone, then love is the cornerstone. Love is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. As a Christian, it’s also yours. As a loved people, you’re expected, and ought to be compelled, to love people.

Loved people love people.

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Loved People. (2015)

love-god-love-people212. That’s the number of times that the New Testament mentions the word Love. Depending on the translation you use it varies, but that doesn’t include the Old Testament. If you count those the number more than doubles. Of the 212 times the word love is mentioned in the New Testament, about 51 one of those are from Jesus. That’s a big deal. Here’s why, of the 27 books of the New Testament, Jesus physically appears in six of them. Of those six, four are the chronicles of his life and ministry, essentially telling the same events from the perspective of different people and written for different audiences. The reason that’s important is because of the over 200 times love is mentioned in the New Testament, Jesus said it about a quarter of those times. Love was a big deal to Jesus.

I think that one of the most important verses in the bible is John 3:16.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That single verse is the Good News of the message that Christ calls us to witness to. Everything else aside, this is our message to the world. When we talk about God, this ought to be our lead, our middle and our conclusion. When we speak of Jesus it ought to be so saturated in this verse that others can’t argue it, because they see that it’s really real in the way that it affects us. The best thing about this verse is that it includes everyone. Everyone.

Nowhere in there does it place a condition on God’s love. It is a conditional statement, but that condition has nothing to do with God’s love. The condition is directed at our belief in Jesus as a necessity for being saved. But His love, that’s exists there for everyone; it’s a without exception or expectation kind of love. So when I talk about Loved People, I’m talking to everyone. But I’m not naive or overly optimistic. I do understand that some don’t believe that or at the least would believe, except they’ve never experienced it, so it’s a difficult idea to accept. That’s why, as a Christian, you have to understand that verse, and a number of others, but especially that one. In understanding it we, Christians, are able to extend it to others.

To the Loved People that know they’re loved,

Others will know His love through you. Think about the first time you really and genuinely experienced the love of Christ. Where their other Christians involved? Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That means that Christians love each other. He also said, “Love you neighbor as yourself.” That means that Christians love other people. If you haven’t ever experienced the love of Jesus that occurs in a community of believers, I might suggest that you haven’t experienced the fullness of the love of Christ and you’re probably not experience the “life abundant” that Jesus said He came to give. Find community and you’ll find deepness in His love. But it’s not just for you and it’s certainly not for nothing. While He lavishes you with love for love’s sake, He also pours it out to be poured out. You’re loved for God’s own glory; so that other’s might experience the same love. While it may seem like a selfish thing, the saving nature of His love eliminates any perceived selfish intent. It’s a hard thing to understand, but once you know His love, the logistics of it seem less important. You are loved to love others. If you’re a Christians and not compelled to love others, I’d argue that you’ve never actually experienced His love and your decision to follow Him is still just one based on a “head” decision. If that’s the case, find community and I guarantee that the transition from head to heart following will be blatant and radical.

It isn’t our duty to love, it’s our compulsion; it’s who we’re meant to be.

Tweet: It isn’t our duty to love, it’s our compulsion; it’s who we’re meant to be. #ApproachGod via @bpags2

To the Loved People that don’t know they’re loved,

God does love you. He does. If you’ve never had an experience with a Christian that reflected that love, I’m sorry. It isn’t our duty to love, it’s our compulsion; it’s who we’re meant to be. I wish I could put into words the attractiveness of Jesus’ love. Obviously the bible does the best job around, but there’s still something that happens when you get to experience it that I just can’t explain. But, I promise you this, you are loved. Anyone that tells you different, even if they use scripture, is a liar straight from hell. The fact that John 3:16 says that “God loves the world” disproves any notion that “God Hates ________” (fill in the blank with anything you’ve ever heard). Because the world’s message is that you aren’t good enough or that you have to be better, believing that you’re loved is probably one of the more difficult parts of being a Christian; but it doesn’t make it any less true. You are loved. My prayer is that more Christians will understand, and remember, the impact that feeling loved had on them and extend the same to others and that you might benefit from that.

Loved People, love others, ok. Love well and often.

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