One day, Jesus was asked by an expert in the Law, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered by giving him two. He said to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”. He also included, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).
It wasn’t very long after this encounter that Jesus made these commandments very personal for his disciples. During his last meal with them, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). But before the meal ended He got even more specific when he told them, “If you love me you will keep my commands” (John 14:15).
So, what was Jesus trying to get across to them? Let’s go back to the greatest commandment. Jesus said we are to love the Lord with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind, and ALL your strength, then, in turn, to truly love others. It’s sad to say, but I think we are living in a time when it’s getting hard to see our love for the Lord lived out in ALL we do. But Jesus did warn us of this, when he said, “The love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). Dare I say, we are becoming “cold” in our desire to keep His commands.
Why do I say this? Well, if people are being honest, many will admit they have seen, let’s call it, the “attitudes” of the people they come into contact with, becoming somewhat less than loving, and in some cases even unloving. Not to mention the people showing hatred.
Now, I know many will point the finger of blame at all the “stuff” that’s been going on for the last couple of years. But does that give us, as believers in Christ, an excuse to let it affect US the same way it affects unbelievers? I must say, at times it’s hard to distinguish between the two. To put it another way, WE’VE become the proverbial frog in pot. The heat and the pressure of the world is killing the love the Lord commands us to express, and in truth, this has been happening for much longer than the last couple of years.
The important question is, how can we correct this trend? The answer is, we need heart surgery. In Revelation 2, in His very first letter to the churches, Jesus tells the believers in Ephesus, they had left their “first love” (v.4). To correct that condition, He instructs them to “Repent and do the things you did at first” (v.5). We need a heart change. For us in the church today, this change needs to be done in two ways.
First, in our individual relationships with the Lord. How is your love relationship with Jesus doing? Are you being faithful and obedient to Him by spending time with Him in His word, in prayer, and in “Biblical” fellowship? If not, repent and do the things you did at first.
Second, in our relationship together as the church, the Bride of Christ, that He is coming for very soon. If we desire to be the church the Lord wants us to be today, we need to remind ourselves of what we are supposed to be doing as the body of Christ. Remember, we are to “follow His commands”. A good starting point would be to take another look at the church when it began, and remind ourselves of those basic tenants of church life.
When the church first began, we read that, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42; 46-47).
Then the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:26). We are to be in a “Biblical” relationship with others in the church so that we can become the connected body the Lord wants us to be, built up in LOVE, “as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16).
Don’t just flip this off thinking you’ve “got it”. This may seem “basic”, but we need to be reminded of it often, or we WILL forget it. This is how we get the encouragement we need to be His light in the dark world we live in. It is from here that we go out into our world as His representatives. Being living examples of Christ to others, showing that we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Peter understood the importance of being reminded of the basics. “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:12). And Paul even feared that the church in Corinth had been “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Remember, if we are no different than those we come into contact with, what difference do we expect to make in the world?
Paul writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33). Paul knew what his focus needed to be. Are we as seriously focused on loving the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength? And showing that love ALL the time?
The Lord Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Brothers and sisters, we still have much work to do, and the time is short. When the Lord comes for His Bride, and takes us to be with Him, the night will come. Until then, I pray we will love the Lord ALL the time, as He loves us, so we can be ALL that He wants us to be.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2).
“But God demonstrated His love toward us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus DIED for us. Are we willing to live in loving obedience to Him as His Bride ALL the time? I pray that we are.
May God bless you all!
We wish to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ without whom this ministry would not be possible.
U.N.C.L.E. Ministry is affiliated ONLY with Jesus Christ to build up the body of believers who comprise His church…for His glory!