This week on the blog, we are joined by Justin Nguyen, WinShape Camps for Communities Camp Pastor with the Yellow team. Keep reading as Justin goes deeper into our 2017 Theme, ALL, by unpacking what it looks like to love the people that you see!
In Mark 12:30, we see a teacher of the law asking Jesus questions. He explains to the teacher of the law that the single most important thing we need to do as followers of Christ is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This tells us that when we live out Mark 12:30, we are following the will of the Father.
However, Jesus did not stop with Mark 12:30; Jesus followed his statement with Mark 12:31.
“The second is this: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these (ESV).” Mark 12:31
In another account in Luke 10:25, Jesus explains to us who our neighbor is. Simply put, our neighbor is everyone and anyone with whom we encounter. This verse is seemingly simple at face value, yet beautifully complex in every way.
In order to fully understand the complexity and beauty of our neighbor, we must understand the very character of which Jesus is speaking.
To understand the importance of loving our neighbor, we need to begin in Genesis 1:26:
“Then God said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness (ESV);”
If we accept that God, the Creator of the universe, is in fact infinite and His children all bare His image, then all His children are all infinite reflections of an infinite God.
Jesus told us to first love the Lord, directly turning us back to Mark 12:30.
If we as the children of God are to love our neighbor, then we have no choice but to love the Lord. Jesus is speaking of an unconditional love, a love that is never ceasing, a love that is unfathomable.
If we as believers are to reflect the LOVE of God to the world, this love should be unfathomable. The world should look to believers and question where this obnoxious and audacious love comes from.
Believers are not called to win arguments with their neighbors, nor are believers called to shame their neighbors.
Believers are commanded to love their neighbors just as Jesus did.
As a believer, there is a tendency for forgetfulness in the weight of this command. Our neighbors are loved just as much as other fellow believers — so much so, that Jesus died on the cross for their sins as well.
In fact, He not only died for our sins, but for the sins of the world.
This that’s right— the world.
This includes believers as well as nonbelievers.
Have we, as believers, forgotten the weight of the sin we too were forgiven of? If we are to love our neighbor as Jesus did, it is to our benefit and our advantage, for in turn we love God.
I have learned that words are cheap. Oftentimes I receive prayer requests and moments later I will completely forget to pray.
The most powerful spiritual tool a child of God has, is prayer.
Prayer takes complete and honest trust, which is where the entire faith in Jesus stems from.
When was the last time a prayer was said for our neighbors?
Whatever the prayer request may be, big or small, that specific issue has created a burden in our neighbors’ heart so much so that they have asked us to walk with them through the struggle in the form of prayer. Yet, we often pray once and never think of it again.
The Bible states that love is so much more than a feeling; Love takes action.
We see this in the story of the Good Samaritan because the Samaritan took action. Ultimately, love by action was demonstrated when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus took action. Should His followers not do so as well?
When was the last time an act of kindness was done for our neighbors?
What about someone you know who has been hurt and in need of your forgiveness?
We must pray for those who deny Jesus and pray for those who seek Jesus.
Instead of pushing the hard-headed and closed-of-heart away, draw near to them and reflect the love of Jesus.
On the cross, Jesus showed His believers that love is the ONLY thing that will change this world — and by His example of love, His children must follow.
Love by action is our single hope to ever see this world change.
If we lived out this form of love it would shake the universities we attend, the corporate offices where we work, the churches we call home, and most importantly, it will shake the lives of our neighbor.