Being active in ministry I get the pleasure of being around all sorts of people. When I look around at these people, I want to find the identifier, the one thing I know that truly identifies them as a Christian – a follower of Christ. I want to know the one thing that anoints them, “sets them apart”, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that they belong to God. That they are sold out completely to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
Is it the position they hold in the Church? The fact that they get to stand behind that beautifully ornate and perfectly constructed pulpit that Brother James lovingly made last year for Pastor Appreciation Day? Nope. Is it because they sit in the front row and shout amen at the pastor faithfully? Nope. Is it because they are on the Board of Directors, CEO of the Finance Committee, Chair of the Missions Board, Director of Outreach Counsel, & President of the Christian Men’s Business Association? Nope. Is it the fact that they are there for Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, Monday morning intercessory prayer, Wednesday morning interdenominational Bible study & Wednesday evening service? Nope.
How bout the fact they donated $20,000 to the building fund? Nope. What about the fact they have a big house, wear the best clothes and drive the nicest car in the parking lot at Sunday morning service? Not that either. What about the way some wear ceremonial garb with ornate silky robes with even more ornate mantels and go through all the liturgy of incense and candles? Not even close. Is it in the way they talk and walk, they say all the righteous things at all the right moments? Nope. Maybe the fact their kids were all home-schooled, ended up going to Seminary and now they travel the world helping poor children in third world countries? Not that either….
John 13 : 34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
What is the one thing that identifies a true christian? The short yet profound answer – is their love. You can’t fake loving people. And unfortunately in 2018 our success as a Christian seems more to be symbolized by our success in life, not our success in how deep and wide our love is for others.
If the God that created the entire world just for man, the God that lovingly walked and talked with us in the Garden, and made us above all creatures is in us…how could we not love each other the exact same way he first loved us? The God that patiently held humanities hand as he devised way after way for his provision to find us throughout the Old Testament. The God that pulled us out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea and lead us through the wilderness, the God that patiently steered us towards the promised land. The God that loved us so very much that he decided to send his only begotten son to earth to save us from the eternal separation and damnation we were destined to endure without his sacrifice. This God – who literally went through hell and conquered it – just to have us with him – if he lives in us how can we not have that same exact love for our fellow human beings?
I’m talking about that self-sacrificing, ever patient, always kind, ever ready to find the redeeming qualities, perfect love God – if he is in you – you will have a love that absolutes beams out of every pore of your body for other people. You won’t be able to hide it, that love is a banner of you. It flies high and without abandon above you. People will see that love and know that you truly are a child of God. That love lifts up Christ in a way that no other human act can.
You could hold a campaign to reach the lost (which I am not sure if we even do that any more – it seems more like we like to organize huge events to entertain each other and sell books) that entailed a million dollar budget, have a church that made the Taj Mahal hall look like a shack, and a line up of speakers and preachers that looked like the “who’s who of christianity” – and without love – it is nothing. One small act of genuine love is more powerful a witness than all of this fluff & churchy looking stuff combined.
We shouldn’t have to form a committee to hand out peanut butter sandwiches to the homeless on Saturday. Or get a waiver, three forms, and a lawyers approval before we start a clothing drive. All of this need to feel “important” in title and position and power is changing the nature of the church. We are moving away from being the spirit filled “Body of Christ” into the pride filled “Board of Christians”. Making this into a corporate entity rather than a spiritual entity has completely stripped the love out of the church. Its made it into a place to seek pride in who you are…what you do…or what you have. Pride and love can’t mix because the Bible says that God resists the proud. They cannot mix.
Be humble, like Christ. Stay simple – serve humanity in the Lord. That is it, that is the love of Christ, a humble servant to humanity. The product of being endwelled by God is naturally love. You can’t squeeze a lemon and get tomato juice. What comes out of you when you get squeezed? Anger, envy, jealousy? If it isn’t love – you need to reevaluate your relationship with the Lord. Look deep within yourself and find out why you are here, then dive deep into that love. God commanded two things : Love God – Love your neighbor. In these two commandments hangs all the law of the prophets. If you are not living in love, walking in love, if love is not pouring out of every cell of your body – you missed it.
Return to your roots church…love.