Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 10:13
My life is dedicated to people. To relationship building. Whatever that may look like. If it’s having a grill out at my house or taking a trip up to northern Michigan with some friends. People are what I live for.
As I Christian I often wonder how I translate that love for people into ministry. My desires in life to be a speaking pastor and author, make this “wondering” all the more frequent and powerful.
This question of how to minster to people is a frequently asked question. A common musing in the Christian community. But I think the answer can be boiled down to one word.
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31.
These words of Jesus support the idea that love is the key to ministry. I don’t think I would receive much push back with that idea. I think most would agree that love is very important in ministering to people. But do we really live it? Do we really meet our neighbors with love?
Let’s look at who Jesus said we should love. “Our neighbors” who is that? The people that live on the same street as us? I think that neighbors is better viewed as everyone that we come in contact with. The people we live with. The people at work. The people at the gas station. Love them.
The staunch atheist at work? The homosexual couple in your apartment building? The person that cuts you off in traffic? The murderer on death row? Love them. Love them all.
Don’t attach a “but” to that love. Don’t Love them “but” hate their sin. Don’t Love them “but” avoid interacting with them because their beliefs make you uncomfortable. Don’t love them “but” describe them as the “gay one” or the “drinker”. Just love them.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
There’s a lot of bible verses about love. It’s talked about a lot. Clearly we are called to love people. So should we just run out and tell everyone how much we love them? Should we start throwing out gifts like an Oprah show, spreading our love as much as we can?
I would say no. Because our love isn’t very good. In fact it’s essentially useless.
That statement seems very contrary to everything else I’ve said. Why love people if our love is useless?
We are called to love. But not with our love.
Can your love create humanity?
Can your love guide the Israelites out of Egypt?
Can your love hold the heart of King David, as seen in the psalms?
Can your love come to earth, live a sinless life, and die as the perfect sacrifice only to rise again 3 days later?
Does your love offer salvation?
No. You may be real good at love. You may own all of Marvin Gays albums and have a favorite spot to watch the sunset. You can be the best at love. But your love can’t cover your sins, Or the sins of anyone else.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7.
Love everyone you come in contact with. But use the love of our father. Its the love of the father that matters. Its the Love of the father that offers salvation. We are saved because of God’s love for us. We are not saved because of our love for God. We did not convince God to send His son, because of how much we love God. God sent His Son to earth because of how much He loves us. We don’t have the opportunity for salvation because of how much we love Jesus. We have the opportunity for salvation because of how much Jesus loved us. Use the love that caused God to send His Son to the earth. Use the love that held Jesus to the cross.
How do we use that love?
Unfortunately there’s no “ten step process to a greater quantity of Gods love” program available. There aren’t easy, tangible steps to follow to grow in your Love. Its a choice. A decision to Live in that love. Park yourself in prayer and in the word. Let yourself be filled with the Love of God. So that it may ooze out from you. Bask yourself in the love of God. Sleep in it. Feast on it. That love is the only piece of perfection we can find on earth. The love of God is what ties us to eternity.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8
Loving people is tied to your salvation.You aren’t saved because of your love. You are saved because of God’s love. When you are saved that love will begin to fill you up.
Imagine an old west town with one of those old timey water towers. It kinda looks like a giant bathtub on stilts. With a big open mouth, the mouth would collect rain water as it fell. The basin would hold the water inside, collecting more water than if the water was allowed to just fall to the earth. Eventually this bathtub on stilts would fill up with water, precious water, life giving water. Then a system of pipes would carry the water to the places of need. The water would be sent to farms, to ranches, to stores, and to homes. The water would provide life for the community. Be the same for your community. Be a big bathtub on stilts. Be a water tower, filled with love.
Love the saints. Love the sinners.
Love. Love. Love.