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What Does it Look Like to Love Like Jesus?

We’ve been in a series on spiritual disciplines. Prayer, scripture, fasting, etc., are all good, but the acid test is love. If you sum up what it means to be Christlike, it is love. First John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Am I praying more? Am I reading my Bible more? Am I serving more? These are all good questions, but the single most important question is, “Am I loving more?” If you want to know if you are making progress on your spiritual journey examine the quality of your closest relationships. Are you kinder, gentler, more self-controlled? Are you growing in love for family and friends? Enemies? People who’ve hurt or mistreated you? If not, then no matter how much you pray, read the Bible, sabbath, fast, or serve, you are not on track. The “telos” or the end, purpose, goal of the spiritual journey is to be like God and God is love. Here are three expressions of love:


God lives in community. We call it the Trinity. We were created for community. Love is not just a nice feeling. More than an attitude, it is an action to seek the good of another ahead of your own. We cannot become a people of love, who live like Jesus, and do it alone. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn. 13:35). Spiritual disciplines are important, but they were meant to do in community. Your life will be so much better when you fast, pray, read your Bible, and serve all in community. We encourage one another. We help one another (Ecc. 4:9-10). In the Book of Acts, the early church met in the temple and in houses (Acts 2:46). They had big church and small group! Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The people you are in community with know what’s going on in your life. Through small groups we can do baby showers, funeral meals, eat out together, raise kids together, etc.


Peter says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Pt. 4:8-9). Paul also tells us to “practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). The church is often a home away from home for many people. An invitation or welcoming greeting can go such a long way. You can’t disciple people without hospitality. You can’t do life together without hospitality. You cannot grow spiritually unless you’re connected relationally. God wants to use other people to grow us and he wants to use us to grow other people. A guest who attends church or your group may represent years of prayer and/or an invitation by another church member. My dad’s testimony is that he was saved at an early age but got out of church. He would drive my mom and brother to church but sit in the parking lot. Every Sunday, Lenard Fleming would tap on the window and just talk to him. He invited him inside and finally Dad came. He got back in church, became a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, and the choir director!


The command to love starts in the Old Testament. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:5-7). It starts at home. We want our kids to follow Jesus. They are not going to hear it from the world! It is more caught than taught. Christians have bought into the lie and propagated a sacred and secular split. Christians seem to compartmentalize their faith. No wonder we do not know how to apply faith to work, finances, politics, and sports. You cannot separate faith and the material world because God made both. Christianity applies to all of life. We are all called to be missionaries (Mt. 28:19-20). Jesus did not have a disciple. He had disciples (plural). The secret to discipleship is to disciple as many as you can in one setting. We have to pass on our faith to the next generation. For the Christian, life and work, private and public are hard to tell apart. Following Jesus is not a way of looking at certain things but a certain way of looking at everything! Every generation of Christians must be able to articulate a biblical worldview. This is what it means to follow Him and we have to do it in love.


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