25th Anniversary Service
If you have been a Christian for any time, then you have heard that the entire law in the Bible can be summed up in these two commands: love God and love others. If you want to grow deeper with God, get on mission with Jesus, do more than just go to Bible studies, read books, or listen to podcasts. Apply what you’re learning about God by loving Him and loving other people.
Something To Talk About:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 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’” (Matthew 22:36–39).
- Commit to loving Jesus: Do you love God more than anyone or anything? Do you love God more today than a year ago? Do you love Him less? Do you love Him about the same? Do you love Christ just as much as you loved Him when you first came to know Him? Nothing is more important than us loving the Lord with all of our being. So, this begs the question: Why do we love God in the first place? Well, the first thing to realize is that God loves you! God loves you more than anyone on this earth loves you, more than anyone ever will. In fact, 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” That is why we love Him. In a nutshell, this is Christianity. To love God and love others is only possible when we understand that He loved us first.We don’t naturally love God most. We don’t naturally love others like we do ourselves. We’re all wrapped up in ourselves, our lives, our agendas, and our priorities, yet God keeps loving us. His love never changes.
- Commit to loving your neighbor: The application is important: As we begin loving others, we are also learning just how much God loves us. If we are able to forgive and give grace to people who are hard to love, then just how deep is God’s love for us? It is easier to love others when we realize the endless, astonishing love of Christ. Ephesians 3:18–19 (MSG) says, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” The more we begin to love, the more we begin to change from within. All of a sudden, we don’t find it as hard to love others anymore, and we get a better picture of what it means to love God—and how deeply He loves us. When we truly, actively begin loving others, we also learn how to love God better. A struggle for many people is that they think they can’t love others until their heart motive is “right.” So they spend a lot of time checking their heart, asking God to make them more loving. There are so many creative ways to love others, and you don’t have to wait. Venture out in faith and loving feelings will follow the loving actions.
- Commit to loving your neighborhood: Jesus calls us to care deeply about Him and those He has placed around us in our families, workplaces and neighborhoods. When asked which commandment was most important, He answered: 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 22:37-39). In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, Jesus’ coming is expressed in this way: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14) He came to live among us in order to reach us and love us in ways we could understand. God has placed you in your neighborhood for important reasons as well. Pray through this list of thought-starters below and consider how He might be calling you to love your neighbors in more intentional ways.
- What does it mean to love God?
- Loving God means seeking our happiness in Him. Agree or disagree and why?
- What does it mean to you to reflect God’s love to others? What are some practical ways for you to give others a taste of what the love of God is like?
- Is loving others loving as God loves? Is this even practical?
- How important is love to human beings? Why do you think it is so important?
- Are we a “display window” for the supernatural love of Christ? In what ways do your actions reveal the depth of your love for people?
- In what specific ways can you practice loving others well this week?
- What can you learn from Jesus about how to love others?
- Why are we compelled to love our neighbors?
- How does loving God entail loving neighbor, and loving neighbor presuppose loving God?
Take One Thing Home with You:
Can anyone really love like Jesus? Really? That is an extraordinarily high bar. Love your enemies? Walk the extra mile? Turn the other cheek? Can we bring perfect love into our imperfect lives? Yes, the bar is high, but if you are seeking a reasonable level of love, you’ll miss out on extraordinary love. If you want to love like Jesus you have to be more approachable and less detached. You need to be more patient and less in a hurry. You will need to exhibit more grace and be less judgmental. You have to be more bold and less hesitant or fearful.
If you’re thinking that is a pretty tall order you are right. It is impossible for us. Our human nature gets in the way. We judge others’ faults and can act selfishly and spitefully. We store our hurts away until those hurts lead to resentment. Even with our best efforts to love like Jesus, we fail. Jesus knew this, and He generously provides us the key to our problem and some encouragement: “…Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God” (Mark 10:27).