Summary: I shared this sermon to convey what I think should be the church's primary purpose as I was installed as senior pastor. 1. Loving God 2. Loving one another as church members 3. Loving non-believers by sharing the gospel
The Great Commandment: Matthew 22:37-40
37 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.'
38 "This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 ”The second is like it, " YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'
40 " On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.'‘ Matthew 22:37-40
The Great Commandment is
1. the most important commandment,
2. the essence or summary of all the commandments in the Bible (the whole Law and the Prophets).
3. Thus serves as a guideline and goal for the life of every Christian and the life of church.
I. About Loving God
A. Loving God is the primary purpose of a church;
If we fail at loving God, we fail in everything else, just as Israel failed in loving God and failed as a nation.
B. Loving God demands our best efforts; loving God requires complete dedication – first priority and absolute intentionality - because there are many other competing factors that attract our attention and love. You can’t love God and the world at the same time.
(When I served as a missionary in Tijuana, I noticed that as electricity was introduced in the area, attendance at the church dropped significantly. They would rather spend time watching TV than attending church. This applies to us as well; we find it harder to spend time studying Scriptures than watching TV or web browsing; and praying than playing.)
Jesus said, “If you hears my voice, open the door, I will come in”
If you listen to so many other competing voices, you can not hear Jesus’ voice .
Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”
If you are fed by so many worldly things, you may not have the hunger or thirst for Jesus.
Jesus said "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 (NLT)
If you are satisfied with worldly things, you won’t feel spiritual hunger.
C. Loving God presupposes knowing God. You can love the Lord only as much as you know Him. But, your years as a Christian don’t necessarily guarantee that you know the Lord as much.
The Israelites were very religious and participated in all kind of religious activities but God didn’t like them becuase they were not interested in knowing and obeying God:
I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so you would no longer kindle a useless fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Hosts, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. Malachi 1:10
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (of God). (Hosea 4:6)
We have to spend time studying the word of God - listening to sermon, Sunday School, bible reading, Reflection, etc
II. About Loving Neighbors
I used to attend a church of about 50 members where the people did not know each other well. A member who had attended for 40 years and another for 26 years did not know where the other lived.
Long years of attending a church doesn’t mean you know and love the Lord well, neither does it mean you know and love the other members well.
You could attend a church like a social club or family.
When I explained to someone that, in case of emergency, I have serveral people in our church who I can call even very early morning such as 2 or 3 A.M., he envied of me. (We are so grateful to Pastor Abraham Lee for being such an example.) Church size is important but what’s more important is the church members’ commitment to one another.
That’s why we put an emphasis on small group ministry because we can relate to each other only as deep as we communicate to each other. According to a study in regards to small group bible study, after 5 years of attending any given church, only 20 % of those not participating in small group bible study still remained in the church while 80% of those participating in small group bible study remained in the church.
I would like to mention on my relationship with the other pastors in the church. I don’t take them simply coworkers, but I take them as my real friends. I try to treat them as my closest friends as they really should be.
More important is the church members’ commitment to one another.
III. About loving other neighbors (referring to non-believers)
Loving God is the primary purpose and loving church members as our neighbor is of supreme importance. But, if loving God and other church members and believers are all that there is in Christian life, there is no point for us to stay in this world. We can love God and neighbors far better in heaven than here on this earth.