The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 171
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” –John 15:13
Relatively speaking, few have done that or been put in the position to have to make that choice. Of course our Savior did that when he went to the cross. There is certainly no higher price we could pay to demonstrate our love for someone else. There are many more opportunities for us to show love, though. Depending on your Bible translation of choice, the word “love” is mentioned 300-500 times, so there’s a lot to work through on the topic of love.
In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked by a pharisee what the greatest commandment was in the law. Jesus’ reply has become the calling card of countless churches now: “‘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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love runs deep in God’s plan for humanity as we are made in His image, and love is at his core.
As we move into the fourth week of Advent, celebrating the birth of Jesus and His imminent expected return, love should be the feeling we share towards him and one another. How should that manifest itself in a revitalized church?
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1. Loving God: Worship
Expressing back to God our recognition of his infinite worth should be our posture. As God is all and above all there is none greater to receive our love and adoration. The Advent season is a great time to reset our view of God as we contemplate the birth of Christ and his return.
The revitalized church is one that prioritizes worship as a core value. What does that mean, though? Doesn’t every church prioritize worship? Most do, yes. But do they really plan worship in an intentional way to help people connect deeply with God? The entire worship service should be leading people into moments to really commune with God. That will be different for different people. It may be in song, it may be in scripture reading, or it may be in the sermon or another element. Revitalized churches skillfully construct an environment in which worship is conducive.
2. Loving Each Other: Discipleship
Without the knowledge of who God is and what his word says, can we truly show the love he desires from us? Jesus told us in Matthew 28:20 to “teach them (disciples) everything I have commanded you.” That’s a tall order! Where do we even start? Go back to the pharisee’s question in Matthew 22. Start by showing love to God and people.
As an aside, it’s easy to gloss over the fact that Jesus compared the love we would show to others to the way we love ourselves. What if we don’t love ourself? Today’s culture seems to have more and more people who do not. How can they effectively love others with a right perspective? The Christmas season can be especially hard on people, so let’s make a point to also help people love who they are in a way that they can truly know what it is to love others.
Our maturity in Christ and in his Word will be reflected outwardly in how we treat God and people, so the revitalized church focuses on discipling people to ever-greater maturity.
3. Loving Our Neighbor: Evangelism
If giving our life for someone is the greatest display of love, I suggest there is a close second, and that is introducing them to the one who did give his life for them – Jesus. Before Jesus departed to return to the Father, he gave us our marching orders in Matthew 28 – “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Disciples. Followers of Christ. What gift does that hold for those to place their faith in him? Eternal life. That is love! You and I are called to bring people into the presence of the King. Give that gift this Christmas season and every chance you get.
Merry Christmas from all of us at The Malphurs Group!
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A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.