Start With Love

Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  on  Unsplash

There is so much written regarding the subject of love that I often wonder why, as followers of Jesus, we do not spend more time or effort on the subject of love. Love is a very broad topic and to try to address it appropriately, I believe one should take time to focus on the different parts. It is easy for us to simply focus on what gets a lot of our attention which is romantic love. I am not so interested in writing about romantic love, so I will focus on what is commonly known as agape love.

Start with the Basics

As new followers of Jesus, it is interesting to observe what we focus on or what we are told to focus by other, more seasoned believers who have placed their faith in Jesus. I began my journey as a follower of Jesus at the young age of eight years of age. I was raised in what many would classify as a very traditional Southern Baptist Church in a suburb of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where we had “big church” and “Sunday School” each week. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, I share the details to provide context.

I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in a Sunday church service where I responded to an invitation to follow Christ. I did so by standing and walking down a church aisle to the front of the room where the alter was located. I was greeted by a pastor who discussed with me what accepting Jesus meant. After hearing what he had to say, I eagerly said yes to following Jesus and began my journey as a follower of Jesus Christ.

What followed in the weeks and months to come lead up to being baptized and becoming a regular attender at my church. This was nothing new, as I had attended with my parents for as long as I can remember. Of all the things I remember about the beginning of my faith, these are the parts that are most clear. And while I certainly do not think this approach was a bad one or the wrong one, I want to purpose what I believe would radically change things for many believers today.

I believe that understanding what it means to accept or follow Jesus is crucial to a new believer’s journey, period. However, I would purpose that what believers should do differently following the basics of what it means to follow Jesus is that we should start with love. If we really would look at what is important to Jesus then I think it is clear that Love is a core component of what it means to follow Jesus.

After the Basics… Start With Love

Of all the things we could possibly focus on with new followers of Jesus, the greatest thing we could do to point them in the right direction is to focus their attention on love. More specifically, our perfect example, the selfless love of Jesus. When asked about the most important things for believers Jesus responded with love. In Matthew chapter 22 verse 36, the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about what is most important. “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Now keep in mind that the intentions of the Pharisees in this passage are not good, but we learn so much from the answer Jesus provided.

In verse 37, we see Jesus’ response to the Pharisees manipulative question. “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.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” So out of everything Jesus could have said in this pivotal moment, He spoke about love.

The priorities of Jesus were simple, Love God and Love Others. So out of everything we could or maybe should throw at new followers of Jesus, we should start with love. In the days and weeks to come, I will attempt to learn more about love. I will do my best to appropriately share what I learn along this journey. I hope you will come alongside me as we learn about what it means to Start with Love.

Being Made Holy

The life we were meant to live is in His kingdom. A real life without celebrity, worldly wealth or glamor. A life which starts by our realization of how badly we need a savior, Jesus. Our only reasonable response to this realization is complete surrender and awe to Jesus. A cornerstone in the foundation of a kingdom life is one's ability to learn to live by faith. If you examen the most influential people of the Bible, you will quickly notice they have one thing in common. Theses individuals learned to live by faith.

Take David, not King David, but David before becoming king over Israel. David remembered God's faithfulness in past events and went out to fight Goliath. He was appalled by this man's lack of respect for God. He didn't see this 9 foot giant as the rest of the Israelites did. David saw just one more of these little battles he had been fighting all his life.

The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:37 NIV84)

David realized he had the power of God behind him and that God fights differently than man. God had prepared David through each small battle while watching over sheep. Each seemingly small fight to protect sheep was a faith builder. People only saw a shepherd boy, but God saw a mighty warrior.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV84)

Our actions or inactions cannot make us holy. There is only one who makes us holy and this battle has been won. Jesus makes us holy, we just have to be willing to accept His gift. Our next reasonable response is to wholly surrender to Him. Our lives are not our own.

Being made holy is not about our actions, but the condition of our heart. God is refining us through each small or seemingly large battle. After each battle we come out of the fire a little closer to God. We learn to leave the things of this world behind and pickup our cross.