Power & practice
By Keith Boutte
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT)
The Word tells us an expert in religious law asked Jesus, “What is the most important law given by Moses?” Above is Jesus’ answer, love God first and love mankind. So simple an answer yet so complicated to live out. I mean really love everyone? That may be why the question is in three of the four gospels and what is most important to God.
So how can we love everyone? What about those who purposely hurt us? Or those who knowingly use us, or steal or rob from us. This list could go on and on yet the answer remains the same, love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” This is who we should be, Church.
The power of love
One might say, “But I’m not God, how can I love everyone?” Paul also wrote in Romans 8:11-12 (NLT), “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” We are obligated to love and our guide is Holy Spirit.
There is no greater power, no greater strength, no greater master and no greater commandment than love. Love has created everything we know of for us. Love knows the end from the beginning and orders our footsteps. Love has overcome the world and defeated our greatest enemy. Love is the most powerful force given to mankind.
The practice of love
One more thing about loving our neighbor; the Jews and the Samaritans really disliked each other though they both loved the same God. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” and He told the story about the “Good Samaritan.” Then He asked this question in Luke 10:36 (NLT), “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” The Jewish teacher of the law answered, “The one who showed him mercy.” Though the teacher of the law did not answer the Samaritan, he knew he was the one who showed mercy and was the neighbor. He knew what Jesus was telling him when He said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Jesus came to seek and save all mankind. In the parable of the Good Samaritan He was telling us, the Church, to love all mankind. Now we know today a large portion of the Christian church is being murdered and persecuted because of their faith. According to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
The price of love
Jesus was brutally beaten and murdered. His Church around the world is being persecuted and murdered because of their faith in Jesus. Yet the gospel is still being preached throughout the world. America needs Christians standing in unity for Jesus Christ. We have so many churches but such a small voice. I say that because God spared us in the last presidential election. If the other candidate would have won, would you be in jail for publicly proclaiming Jesus’ love? Would your church have been shut down for preaching a hate message about the LOVE of Jesus? Where are we, Church?
Love created everything. Love made man in His own image. Love concurred death hell and the grave by giving His only Son to die for us. Love is the only power that can save mankind from hell and God is love.
Jesus said in John 14:15 (NLT), “If you love me, obey my commandments.”
Church, let’s love each other and the people in the world with God’s Word and our actions. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.