Shepherds equip sheep with the following… (see Ephesians 4:15)
God is love. Right? Right! Well, what exactly does that mean… and more to the point, what does that mean for the Church… for you, me, and the other 7,000,000,000+ people on the planet?
Given the magnitude and implications of this question, lets bring God’s Word in early on this one.
First, as a premise to my post (and this entire blog site for that matter) I want to emphasize the fundamental and essential responsibility of the biblical Church to teach and model a truly Christ-like definition of “love.” For a professing church (see Revelation 2-3) to do anything less, is to deny the Vine-Dresser and render itself disengaged from the Vine (John 15).
Friends, there are countless “crowds” gathering weakly (spelling intended) all around us, crowds of all shapes, sizes, and denominational slants, crowds that are not churches. Oh sure, they look like a congregation… but here’s the thing, they don’t live and love like a congregation (“ekklessia in koinonia”) of Christ’s Church – His bride… His body. No. Instead, they “play church” and pretend to love.
Sadly, often times, the sheep (or more likely, the “deceived goats”) are only following suit, trying their best to mirror the model of their lukewarm minister (or worse, their preaching wolf).
How does this happen? Simple. When it comes to teaching, preaching, equipping, and “BE-ing,” – the Bible (complete with its righteous rigidity) is becoming more and more minimized in many modern ministries. The Holy Scripture’s definitions and applications are being rejected and replaced (in the pulpit & the pew) with paraphrasing pleasantries that plagiarize cheesy Hallmark cards. Lukewarm environments such as these create ignorant, cancerous, church-consumers who tend to “love their church” (for all they get from it), while only “liking” Christ (because He tends to interfere a bit too much – if really taken seriously – with their self-lorded lives).
Having said that, I’d like to lay out a 12-point biblical blueprint that will help us begin to create an authentic Christian framework for love (a.k.a. “agape” – the Christ-like love that ALWAYS tells the truth AND loves even the unlovely).
Love is a DEFINING, DNA component of the biblical Church.
1 John 4:18 = “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Love is missional. In its purest form, love has been modeled for us thru the Messianic ministry of our missionary God.
John 3:16-17 = “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Love is our “ALL-in” response to God’s gift of grace.
1 John 4:19 = We love, because He first loved us.
Love is that first & largest letter seen, when the Holy Spirit signs His autograph upon the Christian’s heart.
Galatians 5:22-23 = “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
Love (first vertically AND then horizontally), according to Jesus, constitutes the top two priorities in Christ-like living.
Mark 12:28b-31 = “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Love overtakes prejudice & reinforces Christ-like standards.
Luke 10:29-37 = “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Love knows no bounds!
Luke 6:35 = “…love your enemies and do good…”
Love is the birth-certificate of Christianity.
John 13:35 = “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is a conditional 4-letter word, joyfully spelled O.B.E.Y.
John 14:15 = “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.
Love walks the biblical talk of Christ-like, proactive truth.
1 John 3:18 = “Let us not love with word and tongue, but in action and in truth.
Love is the power, personality, and purpose of God’s truth.
Ephesians 4:11-16 = And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Love for God begets the greatest of promises & peace.
Romans 8:28 = And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I’ll leave you with this to ponder…
Agape/love is a holy-heart’s perspiration.
How much do you and your church sweat on a daily basis?
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