walk in the word
31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” —Mark 12:31-33
I did not feel loved in the church that I grew up in. Not at all. Oh, there might have been one or two exceptions. But most of the time, I felt inspected, I felt measured, I felt judged, I felt sometimes excluded, but I did not feel loved in the church when I was young. I could quote verses like, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35), but I wasn’t seeing it or feeling it. Now before you conclude I’m piling on my childhood church, let me confess they didn’t get a lot of love from me either.
It took me a lot of years—I mean, I learned to love God, I learned to love God’s Word, but I did not learn how to love people in the church that I grew up in. It doesn’t surprise me that there are many people that feel that way. Now, that is an awful tragedy.
Jesus says this is like the big deal—loving one another. You’ve got to have this! It’s a rough world out there. Church has got to be a place where I come where I feel loved by people with authentic love.
I want to declare this. Our church is going hard after loving one another. You are loved here—not perfectly, but permanently you are loved here. Not 100% faithfully, okay, because we’re all sinners, but you are loved fervently here. We want Jesus’ words to come true and be true among us! I believe with all of my heart, we have to embrace this as job-number-one, horizontally speaking. People need to see and they need to experience directly the way we love one another! That’s the first step in the second part of the great commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself.
When Jesus was like, “I’m leaving here via the cross in ten more minutes,” He added, “Here’s what I really want you to do: Love one another.”
Prayer – You showed me, Father, repeatedly, how to practice love for one another. Help me study and imitate Your example. Remind me that love is the clearest evidence the world can see that what I claim about You is true, not because I love perfectly, but because I love authentically. Thank You for setting the bar high and then helping me every moment to reach it by Your presence and power. In Your name, Jesus, Amen.
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