Summary: Part six deals with the church being a loving church. Is the church of today loving?
I hope you are not bored yet with this series. I believe it to be a very important topic.
Let’s do a little review…
What is the church? The church is people.
What kind of people? People now and throughout history who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.
A few weeks ago I shared with you the four qualities of the kind of church Jesus had in mind. Do you remember what they were?
We have already looked at evangelizing church and learning church. Next week we are going to learn about the worshipping church.
Today we are going to discuss the loving church.
Open my eyes so I can see Your truth.
Open my ears so I can hear Your voice.
Open my minds so I can understand your Word.
And, open my heart so I may receive all that You would have me receive.
How important is it that we love God?
How important is it that we love others?
Jesus answered those two questions in Matthew 22.
34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the prophets hand on these two commandments." Matt. 22:34-40
In other words loving others is so important that if we don’t get it right, nothing esle we do will matter. We could evangelize the world and disciple them the way we are supposed to but if we don’t love them we are only a "resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
The church in America today doesn’t love on the level it should love. And that is a sign of the last days.
READ 2 Timothy 3:1-5
We are commanded that our love for God must come first but our love for others is right there.
Loving others is an upside down thing to do in a world that says we need to take care of our own needs before anything else. I am not talking about just any kind of love. I am talking about an outrageously forgiving and overly generous love.
When we love in such a way it can be a powerful thing.
There are two things that we need to answer about Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbor.
First, who is my neighbor?
In order to understand who our neighbor is, let me remind you of the parable of the Good Samaritan. We commonly think of our neighbors as the people who live around us, but Jesus meant it to include all mankind, yes, even our enemies.
To love our neighbor means to love all people everywhere, not just our friends, our allies, our contrymen and so on.
READ Luke 10:25-37
The Jews and the Samaritans had been enemies for hundreds of years and yet the Samaritan man took pity on the Jewish man when know one else would. Jesus challenges us to do the same and it confirms what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44.
Who is your neighbor? Everyone.
The second question that needs to be answered is, do I really have to love myself?
We need to be careful with this one. We do need to love ourself but how do we love ourself? We love ourselves by first understanding the image in which we were created.
Genesis 1:27 tells us that we were created in the image of God.
Psalm 139:13-14 tells us that God knitted us together himself.
It is important for us to understand these truths so that we can love oursevles. We may not like the way we look or how much we weigh or how smart we are or we may not like the things we do, but the more we understand that we are made in God’s image, that it was God who created us and that we are His children the more we can love ourselves.
Another way we can love ourselves is by understanding the depth of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace for us.
The more we experience God’s love and forgiveness makes it more and more possible for us to think of God more and ourself less because we are becoming secure in His love. As this happens we love ourselves more, not with the kind of love that is described in 2 Timothy but rather with the love of God that is in us.