“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Prefer one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality,” [Romans 12:9-13]
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law,” [Romans 13:8-10]
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law,” [Galatians 5:13-18]
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” [Ephesians 4:1-3]
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching,” [Hebrews 10:23-25]
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart,” [1 Peter 1:22-23]
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.,” [1 John 4:7-12]
Once a month our Family Life Minister, Zach Korff, puts on a family movie night. This past Friday we had the biggest crowd to date –and we had a lot of fun. But there were several things that I noted during that event, things of which we probably all need to be reminded.
The feature film was “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” While this is a very impressive film and contains a lot of impressive material from C.S. Lewis’ classic fantasy novel, it did not hold the attention of smaller children, particularly those under 10 years of age. At one point, I apologized to one of the adults that the children had been so distracting during the film, to which she replied, “We don’t come for the movie.” She meant that the joy of being there really didn’t have much to do with the film. She and her children enjoyed being together with the family of faith at a fun event.
I decided to take the children who were under 10 years downstairs and inflate the bounce house so that the older kids and the adults could enjoy the film and their time together. The younger kids really enjoyed the bounce house, but only for about 10 minutes. Then they were “bored” again. It wasn’t until I climbed inside with them that things came to life. It’s funny how kids come alive when older people get engaged in their lives. After 1 ½ hours of bouncing around and being silly, I think I was ready to go to the emergency room (just kidding) but the kids became completely excited and became “one” as a group. Kids really need someone to believe in them. They learn through having fun best, but when Jesus is the center of the fun, kids really come alive.
We all enjoy different things at different ages. It’s hard sometimes to understand how we all think and feel at those different stages of life. But the crucial element, in all things and on all occasions, is love. Kids understand that you love them when you become engaged in the things that matter to them. When kids do what kids do, well, that’s just normal. But when ADULTS become engaged in what matters to kids, they really come alive. The unspoken message is, “We matter to you.” Adults at different stages in life also think about different things and when we interact as adults with different age groups, we are also conveying the message, “You matter to me.”
The Scriptures tell us to “love one another deeply from the heart.” Now, granted, the last thing I thought I would be doing on movie night was bounce around in a bounce house with six little kids, but the Spirit said, “George, go show the kids I love them.” So, I did, and I gained far more than I lost. Every single one of us needs to say, “You matter to me and God,” to someone who needs to hear it, just as we all need to hear, “You matter to me and God,” from another brother of sister in Christ. It’s a decision. When we put the fellowship of believers first and “PREFER one another” (the correct rendering of Romans 12:10), the world takes notice –they find what they need. But when we put other events of the world before the family of believers, they world just gets more of what it already has.
When our love for one another is strong, the love of God attracts the world to Christ. This is what I observed happening in the bounce house, because there were kids from churched AND unchurched families bouncing around in there. And the unchurched kids were constantly watching the churched kids and me to see how we dealt with things –which had an irresistible draw to Jesus Christ. When they were accepted by the love of Christ, NOTHING would have pushed them out of that bounce house. Then I had a new dilemma: Trying to get them out!
This is how we show the world that we are Jesus’ disciples –loving one another. The strongest advertisement we can give for the church to the world is being excited about opportunities to be together. We can’t fool the world. They can tell when we aren’t happy to be with one another. But when our love for one another is sincere (and sometimes we have to make up our minds to do what is better rather than what we think we would rather be doing), it speaks volumes and the love of God manifests itself with an incredible, inescapable, captivating magnetism that cannot be stopped. When this happens, church is no longer, “Come and see”; it has become, “Wow! They really love!”
Everyone in this whole world is looking for someone who cares. The church should be leading the rest of the world in showing how to really care. And when we make up our minds to serve one another this way, amazing things happen. There is a world of difference between coming to church because we feel we have to and coming to church because we deeply love one another. When we serve one another, motivated by the love of God for us, we receive a blessing. And the blessing is life –everywhere.
Proclaiming the soon-return of Jesus,