Love God and Love People

In this blog post, I want to spend a few minutes addressing Christian readers in an attempt to remind them of the motivation behind what we do.  Why?  I think it’s really easy to forget the why and begin focusing solely on the what, which is really just going through the motions.  Going through the motions is a waste of time and I’ll explain why a little further down the page.  We often call this service of the church ministry, which at its core is really simple. Jesus put it like this:

37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”  (Matthew 22:37-40, MSG)

Love God and love people.  Everything the Bible has to say boils down to these two essential commandments.  When we get these, we get the message God has been trying to get through to us – the message Jesus died to help us understand.  When I was a young man, I thought that church or ministry were all about hype and programs.  If you build it, they will come.  (Or a more General Baptist thought – if you feed them they will come!)  What maturity has taught me, however, is that what people really want – strike that – what people really need is to be loved.

This need is largely unmet for most people.  That’s why drugs, alcohol and sex outside of marriage are so popular today.  It’s why people work crazy long hours, spend so much time online and do their best to stay constantly connected via technology.  A lack of love is why crime is at an all time high, people don’t value one another and depression meds are being passed out like candy.  When I can’t find a healthy love, I begin to accept unhealthy substitutes.

I’m not excusing bad behavior.  There comes a time in our lives where we have to pony up and take responsibility for our own actions.  We are adults, after all.  What I am trying to accomplish is an explanation as to why so many of us act the way we act and do the things we do.  We just want to be loved.

I think this is the great mission of the church.  At Mt. Zion our purpose statement is simple:  Building relationships that lead to Jesus.  If I want to affect change in the life of another human being, I have to take them to the cross.  It is only though the power of Christ that a person can really be changed.  But, if I want to take them to the cross I better let them know that I genuinely care, because one thing people today are really good at is sniffing out a fake.

Love God, love people.  That’s ministry in a nutshell.  Such a beautifully simple idea!  Yet, so many of us struggle with it.  What if we checked our judgmental attitudes for just a second and saw the broken heart of the person in front of us?  What if we could see past the terrible attitude to see the very human being underneath?  What if we chose to love people, even if their actions say they don’t deserve it?

We’d be doing God’s work, that’s what.  We’d be showing people Jesus in the flesh.  By our example people would begin to understand that Jesus REALLY DOES love them.

And that, my friends, would change the world.

mike

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