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Living Hope Fellowship thinks it's a great plan! Since God is love, we receive Him and His love and we are changed into a people who love the Lord and can now love each other as He has commanded.
If we try to grow in any other way, we'll be known for a lot of things, but love won't be one of them. More importantly, since love never fails, there’s no better foundation upon which to build and no better way to touch the lost and the God of the Heaven all at once.
Here’s our strategy. We have no money, no clout, no status, no buildings, no soldiers—things are going exactly to plan. We will tell them all that they are on the wrong track: the Roman money and power elite; the revolters; the withdrawers; the collaborators.
When they hate us — and a lot of them will — when they call us names and throw us in prison, even kill some of us, we won't fight back, we won't run away, and we won't give in. We will just keep loving them. We will just keep inviting them to join our side.
That’s my strategy.
What do you think?
In the upper room during the last supper, Jesus told his friends this: "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 13:34-35.)
He had said something similar to the leaders of Israel when they tried to trap him by asking which was the most important commandment. Jesus responded, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40.)
We are called to love the Lord and to love each other. We are called to put on love and to love our enemies. We are called to follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts to better serve one another in love. We're even called to produce spiritual fruit beginning with love!
Any meaningful relationship with Jesus or his followers begins and ends with a meaningful understanding of love.
John puts it bluntly: "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.)
Only if we are born of God, can we truly love one another. Peter puts it this way: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23-24.)
We are the Lord’s garden. Birthed in good soil from the imperishable seed of God. Tended to by some, watered by others, but grown only by the God of Love Himself. (1 Corinthians 3:7.)
Grown without love, we’re just a lot of noise. (1 Corinthians 13:1.)
But grown by God’s love, we can break forth from His imperishable seed to become “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3). That’s how others will know we are His. They will recognize sincere love and will be drawn to it. God’s unconditional love is an unstoppable force, even through imperfect men and women like us. It’s everything we all need and want, because “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8.) It's God's remedy for our very broken and damaged world.
Author John Ortberg imagines Jesus giving this pep talk to his disciples (from his book, Who is this Man?):