I gave my life to the Lord when I was in college. I was constantly faced with temptation and opportunities to sin. When I was in my quiet time at home, I would feel really close to the Lord, but then when I got to school, I would feel like my old, unregenerate self again. I can recall a time, very early in my faith, that I was on campus and really struggling with wrong thoughts, attitudes, and words. I knew in my heart that God’s Word would change my perspective, so I went to the library. Locating a Bible on the shelf, I stood between the stacks, drinking in the holy Words of Scripture in 1 Peter.
Nothing can change our hearts and minds like the living, breathing Word of God. Over the last few weeks, God has really been dealing with my heart through His Word. I am reading passages I’ve read many times before, but they are coming alive with fresh directive–namely that as Christians, we are not our own. We were bought with a price and we belong to God. All of us. Every part.
“[Jesus] answered: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself”‘” (Luke 10:27, NIV).
I have written a few posts on this verse already about loving God with all our hearts, our minds, and even our mouths (because, well, my mouth). But today I believe God would have us focus on that last part: loving our neighbor as ourselves. Luke 10:27 is what many call the Great Commandment or the Golden Rule. It’s certainly not new to any of us, yet I fear most of us fall pretty short of this command. I know I do.
In the wake of yesterday’s election, I believe more than ever that this is what God is calling the church to. We have spent far too long, looking like the rest of the world and being a part of the darkness, rather than shining the light of Jesus. We are called to a higher place–one where love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8) and mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
Yes, we are surrounded by sin, corruption, and the loss of many of the values we hold dear as a nation, but being angry with the world is not the answer. Jesus came into a world that was filled with sin, corruption, and the loss of values as well, but He was a Friend to sinners. He loved those He came in contact with who were lost and in darkness. In fact, the only ones He really had a problem with were the religious people (Matthew 23).
We should look different from the world, but I believe the biggest difference should be seen in how we love. Loving others doesn’t require compromising with sin–it never did with Jesus. Loving others means showing kindness, respect, generosity, gentleness, and joy. Loving others means that we are sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that others will want what we have.
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him” (1 John 4:16-17).
Did you get that? In this world, we should by like Him (Jesus). Church, God has given us another chance. Now is the time to get into the Word and walk in the Spirit. I believe that God is about to pour out His Spirit across our nation. Hearts will change and many will come to know the Lord. But it will only happen as we walk in love and show the world who He really is.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34).
We have to love each other. We have to stop being focused on ourselves and get our hearts right with God. We have to cover over the offenses of others and be willing to sacrifice our own agendas, hurt feelings, and opinions and let the love of Christ shine through us. The world is looking to see what we will do. Will we continue to live for self, or will we wake up and realize we are not our own. We belong to the One who saved us, and we have got to submit to His authority in our lives.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
I heard James McDonald say recently that as Christians, we should be the most loving people that lost people know–the drunk, the homosexual, the unregenerate–should look to us and say, “That’s someone who loves me.” God wants to use us to show His love to others. It’s time to shine for Jesus and be a light to the world. We don’t have to compromise our beliefs. We just need to live what we say we believe.
My challenge to you is this: read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) between now and the end of this year. Take note of every interaction Jesus had with other people, namely with lost people. Nothing can change our hearts like the Word of God. Take it in like you are dying of thirst and starving for truth. Soak it up every day. Take notes. Make note cards to remind you of God’s truth throughout the day.
We believe it. Now let’s live it and share it.