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“Organizing the different ways we love others helps us grow in our obedience to Jesus’ greatest commandment.”
We are working through the different elements in our discipleship pathway, learning more about what it means to obey Jesus’ greatest commandment to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Today we come to the second element: loving others as we walk in the world.
The Bible is full of ways we love others. We encourage, challenge, and serve others in the church. We pursue deep and meaningful relationships with non-Christians in a variety of settings. We share the gospel, speak the reason for the hope that is in us, and make disciples of all nations. We work for justice, live out our vocation at work, and lay down our lives for our family, friends, and neighbors. Our life is to be understood as walking in the world in love for others.
We can put together the different ways we walk in the world and find three overarching categories: Community (loving relationships with Christians), Mission (loving relationship with non-Christians), and Calling (loving others through your God-given roles and responsibilities). Organizing the different ways we love others helps us grow in our obedience to Jesus’ greatest commandment.
First, Community: loving relationships with Christians. John tells us that God’s love for us in Jesus teaches us how we ought to love others in the church (1 John 4:10-11). In other words, when you have received love from Jesus that is sacrificial, forgiving, compassionate, challenging, long-suffering, and more, you will naturally treat other Christians that same way. If Jesus loves us, knowing our sin and failure, how can we withhold our love from others because of their sin and failure? This idea is fleshed out in the “one-anothers” of the Bible—the passages that talk about how we are to treat one another as Christians. The list is long, but just in Colossians 3 we find that we are to bear with, forgive, admonish, encourage, help, teach, serve, and more. All of these are facets of love, and they are all part of the love we have already received in Jesus.
We are never done growing in community. That means each of us have next steps. Some of us might need to surround ourselves with other Christians we can love. Others might need to engage the Christians already in their life to put some of this love into practice. Still others might need to invite some of their Christian friends into their life in a deeper way so that there might be more opportunities to love one another. No matter what, the basic Christian life means loving the Christians around us as we walk in the world.
The second category is Mission: loving relationships with non-Christians. After his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples, “as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). How was Jesus sent? The Father sent Jesus with a mission to love us and connect us with God. He pursued us, listened to us, showed compassion to us, told us the truth, and sacrificed for us as part of that mission. The risen Jesus sends us out with that same mission: we pursue, listen, show compassion, tell the truth, and sacrifice for others that they might know God. Paul tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20): we are sent to love those around us and proclaim God’s message.
We are never done growing in mission. That means each of us have next steps. Some of us might need to venture out of our apartments, cubicles, or Christian circles to meet the many non-Christians around us. Others might need to create space in their busy lives for a few more friendships. Others might have many non-Christians in their lives, but they have yet to mention their faith. Still others might have mentioned their faith but never pursued a genuine friendship along with it. No matter what, the basic Christian life means loving the non-Christians around us as we walk in the world.
The final category is Calling: loving others in your God-given roles and responsibilities. Paul writes that God has prepared good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), and expands on those good works in chapter 5. He instructs us to think about how we use our time, how we function as spouses, children, or parents, and how we function in our work lives. This means that God has prepared good works for you—he has called you—as a worker or student, a roommate, spouse, parent, or child, a neighbor, a steward of time, money, and possessions. All of these are callings: unique roles and responsibilities in your life that God has prepared for you. As a Christian, we love others by walking in those callings, investing in them as a way of loving others.
We are never done growing in our various callings. That means each of us have next steps. Some of us might need to think about calling differently—not as one dream for our future, but as several roles and responsibilities we already have. Others of us might need to change our perspective on one particular calling. For example, looking at our work as a means of loving and providing for others instead of just a paycheck. Still others might need to look at things like our time and our finances and ask how God would have us use them to love Him and others. No matter what, the basic Christian life means investing in our roles and responsibilities as we walk in the world.
When you put all of these together, you have a well-rounded walk in the world. It includes Christians, non-Christians, and your roles and responsibilities. As we walk in the world this way, we are living the basic Christian life: loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Next in series: Walking Toward Christ >>
Brian serves the church by overseeing preaching and Sunday morning services at Cornerstone.
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