In light of the cultural news of the day and how both extreme ends of reaction to the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage last week have blown up social media, AND due to the fact that God has impressed upon my heart for some time the Simple Church idea of loving God, loving people, and serving others is born today’s blog post.
I want to propose three areas in which those of us who follow Christ can SIMPLY LOVE.
1. Love God
Jesus echoed and expanded on the teachings of the Shema (Deut. 6:4-ff) when he was asked which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses (Mt. 22:36). Mt. 22:37-38 read:
Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your Gd with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
How do we show love to God? I mean, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), so what exactly can we do to show Him our love? We worship Him. Worship is not just something that happens on a Sunday morning when we gather with other believers to sing songs, pray, observe the Lord’s Supper, and hear from God’s Word, although those things are necessary for our benefit (Hebrews 10:23-25). Worship means to “give worth to” it is to show that God is #1 in our book. As someone who loves God, I need to live my life so that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind as to where my allegiance is, as to where my heart is. Spending time with God every day in prayer, in praise, and in reading the Bible is a bare minimum means of showing love for Him. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts bring praise, glory and honor to God alone every single day. Staying in God’s Word is key. God’s Word sets the standard for truth. God’s Word sets the standard for love. God’s Word sets the standard for life!
God’s Word sets the standard for life!
2. Love People
Jesus didn’t stop at verse 28 of Matthew chapter 22. No, in answering the teacher of the law’s question about what the most important commandment in the law of Moses was, Jesus went on to say (starting in verses 39 & 40):
“A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
In the church setting while talking about the discipleship process, we call the Love People step “doing life together with a group of people.” That is where our Life Groups come in: a group of folks who gather for study, to shepherd one another, to learn about putting the study of God’s Word in the practical service, and who do life together. That is all well and good, and I believe that we all need to be part of a Life Group. Being a part of such a group prepares us for the third way we can SIMPLY LOVE: service to others. Such service needs to take place not only within our Life Group, and not only within the confines of the church community, but it needs to be expressed in the way we serve our community at large.
3. Do Something About It
We encourage members of our Life Groups to do more than just study God’s Word together. We encourage them to serve others. Life group members are generally the first to volunteer to help out wherever needed in the church setting. These folks also know the importance of serving outside the church. Meals on Wheels, The Source (dour local homeless shelter), and Habitat For Humanity all know who our church is because of the people serving in the community in the name of Christ. But there’s more to it than just that.
We are called to love and serve our neighbors. In Luke’s account of this same teaching from Jesus, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus shocked His audience by suggesting that “good Jews” should consider “despised Samaritans” to be their neighbors. Scandalous! Every “good Jew” knew that Samaritans were to be hated. Samaritans weren’t like Jews. They thought differently. They lived differently. They didn’t worship properly. They were to be avoided at all cost.
Jesus tossed that evil thinking out with one fell swoop! So should we.
Jesus tossed that evil thinking out with one fell swoop! So should we. Who is our neighbor? Everyone. They may look different, act different, think different, and even worship different. They are still loved by Jesus with wild abandon. Jesus loves them so much that He died on the cross for them! How could we do any less than to love them as well? How can we do any less than to serve them?
Unless we have totally segregated ourselves from the culture in which we live (a sin from which we should repent…how can we reach those with whom we do not have fellowship?), we all know someone or several someones who are different. We all share one very common trait: we are all sinners in need of the Grace of God as expressed through Jesus the Christ. May we lead with love! May we work side-by-side with those who are different than us in their thoughts and beliefs so that they can see Christ at work in our lives! Remember Peter’s exhortation in 1 Peter 2:11-12:
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
Eternal life hangs in the balance.
We must stand firm in the Word of the Lord, taking the whole counsel of God, not just cherry picking what we like. We must remember that we are ALL sinners in need of God’s grace. We must remember that until a lost, dying, unbelieving world sees how much we love, they will not listen to the Truth we can share. Eternal life hangs in the balance. That statement, my friends, be be a sober reminder that we must Love God, Love People, and Do Something About It. The ONLY thing that will matter 100 years from now is your relationship with God. The same holds true for your neighbors.