Wednesday, February 9, 2011
God has been showing me that the most important thing for a believer to do is LOVE. He has been trying to teach me this lesson for a while now, but I think I have been responding with "Oh, wow, that is great!" and not actually living out what He is teaching me.
We had to give "speeches" in one of our classes at the Missionary Training Center because missionaries are often asked to speak at church events, so this class gave us a little practice. It was videoed so we could go back and critique ourselves and make the necessary improvements. After watching my video, I learned two very important things. 1. I have a very thick southern accent. 2. If I plan to talk with my hands, and wave my arms around in the future, then I need to wear long sleeves or do lots of push ups. At one point I thought I was going to fly away from all that flapping arm flab.
Anyway, my speech was about love. This was around the time God was really trying to get this message through to me. I think I just decided it would be a good topic for my speech and thanked God for the great idea. I don't know. But I do know this, that right now, He is guiding me through this lesson in His Word and man, it is EVERYWHERE!
I have realized (finally!) that this is God's plan to reach the world. He wants His children to love each other with a very real and radical love that looks strange to the outside world. In John chapter 17 Jesus prays for future believers (that is you and me by the way) and the ONE thing He prays for is UNITY. He could have prayed for anything, and He prayed that we would be in agreement, unbroken, unified with each other and Himself. At the very least, that we would get along. He then wants us to love the outside world. Not worldy things, but people.
I think we have tried to love outsiders. We have started a lot of nice programs to help people in need in an effort to bring them to Christ, and to an extent those things have been successful, but I just wonder how successful we would be if we would follow God's instruction to LOVE EACH OTHER. I keep thinking about my best friend's church, who showed love to her family by giving her son who has special needs his own day at a local amusement park, and their family an all expenses paid trip to another amusement park built especially for children with special needs. You see their precious son is often excluded from things because of his condition, and their family is often excluded from things because of his condition. The church recognized this and showed them love in a way that was very real and personal to them. There were a lot of things the church could have done for their family. Things that would have helped them physically or financially, but there is nothing that would have meant more to this family than the church showing them how much they love their son. And this is the kind of thing that will make the outside world notice.
I think what happens in the majority of churches today is that we put on nice happy face when we go out into the world to try to draw people in. These people are impressed with how nice we are and decide to give church a try. They get to church and see a lot of fighting and little joy, and think they are better off outside the church. The message is, "we'll be nice to you until you become a part of this family- then you just become another part of the dysfunction." In 1 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul is telling the church how disturbed he is at all there arguing. He talks about their lawsuits against each other and how terrible it looks to unbelievers. He tells them they should be willing to be taken advantage of rather than let the outside world see believers acting like this. This chapter really speaks to churches today, if we are honest with ourselves. I think we need to work on loving each other like the Bible says to first. Sure a dynamic speaker and a great band with an expensive sound system can draw a lot of people to church to be entertained. But real LOVE is the only thing that will draw people to Christ to be changed.
Anyway, these are just my thoughts, which, let's just get honest, may not even be coherent. But I will leave you with some scripture that has lead me here...
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
This is my command: Love each other. John 15:17
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 1 Corinthians 1:8
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
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. 1 Corinthians 13:2
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6
Serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:16
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 1 John 2:10
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12