Love In The Community
During Jesus’ time on Earth, He was asked a question by one of the men considered to be an expert in Biblical laws, a Pharisee, and it is recorded in Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘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.” (NIV)
Have you ever wondered how you could reach your neighbors with the love of Christ? Can you make an impact in the world around you? There are many problems in the world that we cannot solve. We may give to charity, pray, or maybe even work for one of the many organizations making a difference.
There is also a world at our own fingertips—those who live in the streets and houses around us, those who shop in the same shops or eat and drink in the same pubs and cafes. These are our neighbors, and they are everywhere.
We may not be able to immediately give them the Gospel, but we can start by building relationships. If we are able, maybe we can join a club in our area, a choir, a reading group, or even a gym! Perhaps we could even talking to the one who always comes to the café at the same time as you, but sits there alone? These are places we have been called to impact, showing the love of God through relationship.
Jesus modelled this by meeting people where they were. He walked along the seashore and called some men to Himself. These men would have been tough and strong as fishermen, even more so than our modern-day equivalent. Jesus began to build a relationship with these men. He didn’t start with telling them all the things they have done wrong, but He began with loving them, taking the time to get to know them. He taught them about God’s love and God’s ways in a language that they would understand, often, teaching them using stories and parables.
He taught them for three years until they were ready to hear the reason He came to earth—the work of the cross. He got to know these men and to build up a trust with them, so much so that they would listen to what He told them, even though these things were difficult for them to hear.
The reason we know the message of Jesus today is because of the relationship that He built up with these first disciples, the love and acceptance that He showed them, the truth of His words, and the miracles that couldn’t be denied—all recorded and shared throughout the world—the result of consistent community, building together and trusting one another.
Are there people or groups in your own life where you could begin to build relationships? We can show them the love of Christ just by being ourselves and letting them be themselves with you. Within these relationships we can ask Holy Spirit for opportunities to share the gospel with them and prepare their hearts for that message as you pray for them.
For some their faith will not be immediate. It might take time and patience. It may not even be something that you ever see the harvest of. But have faith to believe that you can make a difference in the lives of those around you. As we do our part, by loving others and speaking His truth, God takes our “loaves and fishes” and turns them into something incredible. He will work in us and through us because He loves us.
“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”
(1 Corinthians 3:6 – NLT)