The Member Musings section of our blog is written by church members in the hope of encouraging you to see all of life through the lens of the gospel. Today we hear from Daniel Smeltzer again about how loving our neighbor flows from the greatest commandment to love the Lord.
In my previous post, I encouraged all of you to “moon” the world. And by that, I meant that we are to shine light into the world, reflecting the light of the Son (Jesus) in the same way that the moon in its fullness shines the light of the sun into the world. However, I realize that in certain situations we might encounter clouds or cannot get past the “shadow of the earth” which blocks the light of the sun. These time points in the life cycle of the moon where the moon is not full and shining brightly can be related to concept of why it can be SO difficult for us to obey Jesus’ second greatest commandment. It is rooted in our struggle to obey the first commandment. Matthew 22:36-40 says:
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Beloved, if we truly love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength then a natural outpouring of love for our neighbor will be far less challenging. But, if we love ourselves and our comfort and our priorities more than the priorities of God, then there will be a very clear contest for our heart, soul and mind. That contest for our hearts shifts the attention away from God, and as a result, hinders our ability to obey the calling of God to love Him and to love our neighbor.
I hope you are as challenged as I am in realizing we need, as Christians, to meditate on the love of God daily, seeking and praying that we be filled with the Holy Spirit, casting off our sinful ways, repenting from our sins, confessing them to one another, and take steps of faith all the while asking God to lead.
1 John 4:7-11 says:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
As we grow in our love for God, the natural outpouring effect will be an uncontainable love for our neighbor. Let us meditate and reflect on the grace, mercy, and love that God has richly loved us. And remember beloved, let us not be simply consuming the love of God for our enjoyment. His love is meant to be an overflowing love, more than we can ever fathom, so that we as His people will reflect and spread His love to our families, friends, and our neighbors – in a broad interpretation 🙂
See too the connected truths found in John 15 (selected passages):
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
The whole chapter is essential as we consider the church and its interconnectivity to Christ as paramount to fruitful Christian living. The simple definition of “abide” is to remain or continue or stay. John emphasizes that we as believers cannot bear fruit that pleases God UNLESS we are connected to Jesus by “abiding” in the vine.
Verses 4-5 remind us that unless we abide in Christ, we cannot bear fruit by ourselves and verses 8-12 tell us that we glorify God AND prove to be Jesus disciples when we are both 1) abiding in Jesus (the true vine) and 2) bearing fruit (which is impossible without being connected to Jesus). Through abiding in Jesus and His love, we will please God, be filled with joy, and prove to be Jesus disciples. These sayings are not to be just checklist satisfiers, these motivators are to be our life’s purpose and paradigm shifters. We have been so amazingly loved by God and through Jesus, that we should love one another as Jesus has loved us.
Church, we need one another now more than ever. We are constantly surrounded by distractors, sinful attention grabbers, and opposed by the world that does not abide in Jesus. If we are not aware of the entrapping web of sin, it can cloud our ability to reflect the shining light of God. We need the loving encouragement of one another to encourage Godly living, not for simple morality’s sake, but to break the bondage and cloud of sin.
We must abide in Christ, he is our root, and we are the extension of His love and mercy displayed for the world to see. Remember daily the love of Christ. Let it fill you and compel you to love others. After all, this world and its sinful pursuits are fading, and its glory is not lasting. God’s kingdom and His people is what is lasting. Remember Jesus’ simple commandment: “love one another as I have loved you.” Abide in this love, and let it fill and change your heart from the inside out. As your heart changes to be in tune with God’s, the natural internal change will have profound external implications: fruit born out of love.
Let God’s love and His blessings pour into your lives, so that you can be the conduit through which He loves those in our lives. As we meditate on Jesus greatest commandments, remember that we can only love others well by first loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Daniel Smeltzer is passionate about international outreach and missions. God brought him to Lighthouse after a summer mission trip with The Navigators to Tokyo, Japan. While at Lighthouse, he met Jolene through the Spectrum International Student ministry, and the two have been married since December 2012. His career is in Supply Chain and Logistics focused on Sales, Consulting, and Operations Management. His personal interests include Ultimate Frisbee, travel, and board games.
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