Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:3739 NIV
SOMEONE ASKED ME, What is your church known for in the community? I quickly rattled off some of our congregations ministries and programsKings Way School, missions, childrens ministry (I did not mention great preaching)but later that question started to haunt me. What are we known for?
My mind was taken to Matthew 22: 3739. The religious leaders of Jesus day would get together and argue amongst themselves. Ultimately they were asking, Of all the commandments, what is the greatest commandment? So they came to Jesus. Jesus knows that this question is much too important to leave it vague. So he quoted Deuteronomy 6, a well-known passage of the Hebrew Bible that contains the foremost ordinance for the nation of Israel concerning their God.
So Jesus essentially says, If you take all 613 commandments and boil them down, they boil down to two. And really out of the two, one flows from the first. This becomes the chief barometer for a follower of Jesus Christ and for his church. So how are we known in the city around us? Is the church known first and foremost as a church that passionately loves God and loves others around us? If its not, then let me just suggest that we have missed the main thing. Its not our programs and activities. As good as some of those things can be, theyre not the end. They are a means to an end. The end, the one command, the one imperative, is to love. It would be great to be known as the people who love God!
Father, When I contemplate the love with which you have loved me, I am very aware of the fact that I dont love you as you deserve. I want to cling to the One who perfectly loved you, to Jesus Christ. We ask that your Spirit might break our hearts, soften us, and show us the love which you have given us. May we love others with that love. In Jesus name. Amen.
-Donald Doe, Pastor, First Church of God, Vancouver, Washington