Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing we can do in our lives is to love. Jesus, reaching back into the Old Testament, told us that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love people (Mark 12:29-31). The apostle Paul wrote that if we had great faith and great sacrifice, but did not have love, then we would have nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Do we live like love is the most important action of our lives?

How is love defined in the Bible? It is defined as service. Matthew 25:31-46, which records Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment, illustrates this reality. We cannot love people (and we cannot love God without loving people) if we do not meet their needs. Our love is seen in what we do. If we love God it will be evident in the way we live and relate with other people.

The best evidence for the truth of Christianity are Christians who love. The atheist can cause people to doubt by citing so-called evidence that dismiss the Bible’s claim, but he/she can never dismiss a persons experience. When the Church is a church of love the world needs no other evidence that God is on His throne. Love is the most important thing for the follower of Jesus Christ and the Church to possess.

The church at Ephesus had many things going for it, but Jesus had something against this church: they had lost their love. This is what Jesus told the apostle John to write to the Ephesians:
2 “‘I know your works, your toil, and your endurance. I also know that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles, but are not, and have found them to be false. 3 You have endured and suffered because of my name, yet you have not grown weary. 4 However, I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Therefore, remember how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. If you don't, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 But this is to your credit: You hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 ‘Let the person who has an ear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give the privilege of eating from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:2-7; ISV)

The church at Ephesus was a church that had taken a stand. They did not tolerate evil and they made sure truth was taught. These Christians suffered for the name of Jesus. I believe that if this church were around today we would look at it as a model. A true Bible believing and truth-telling church!

For all the good things this church was doing they had missed the point. Yes, they valued truth and morality, but they forgot the most important thing: LOVE. Jesus wants us to understand that the most important thing we can have in our church families and in our lives is love. Without love everything we do is meaningless. Love is essential to living a life that is worthy of Jesus Christ.

How is our love for Jesus seen? Ultimately it is not seen in the stands we take or the truth we proclaim. Our love for Jesus is seen in our obedience to His commands. Jesus told His disciples: If you love me, obey my commandments (John 14:15; NLT). Don’t limit obedience to the don’ts of scripture. Obedience isn’t just about morality, but it is also about completing our responsibility.

Our love Jesus comes out in our commitment to the Great Commission. In other words it is about reaching out and making disciples, not just proclaiming the truth. Making disciples involves more than just sharing the truth with people, it is also about showing God’s goodness to the world.

When we love Jesus not only will we proclaim the truth, but we will also show compassion. It is easy to stand up and telling people the truth God has revealed in the Bible, it is something entirely different to love people indiscriminately.

The Ephesian Church had no trouble with the truth, but they did have trouble with love. They lost the love they had for Jesus and that flowed into a lack of love for people. To be the people God desires for us to be, and thus become the church God wants us to be, we have to love Jesus first, and allow that love to affect every other relationship we have.

Our love for Jesus is best seen in our love for people. We can be right all we want, but if we don’t show compassion to others we will be ignored. If we love Jesus and love people then we will become a magnet, drawing people to God.

  • Point to Ponder: The best evidence for the truth of Christianity are Christians who love.
  • Passage to Remember: Revelation 2:2-7
  • Question to Consider: What is something you can do to express your love to a neighbor today?

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