By loving well the visible people He has placed in our lives
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“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.”
If there is one thing that I have observed in 40-plus years of ministry, it is that we can never be reminded enough of the central importance of loving one another.
The greatest apologetic we have to a watching world is loving others.
In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul says that the whole law can be summed up in one single command: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
Think on that.
The entire law summed up in one single command.
Francis Schaeffer wrote years ago,
“Through the centuries men have displayed many different symbols to show that they are Christians. They have worn marks in the lapels of their coats, hung chains about their necks, even had special haircuts.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of this, if one feels it is his calling. But there is a much better sign—a mark that has not been thought up just as a matter of expediency for use on some special occasion or in some specific era. It is a universal mark that is to last through all the ages of the church till Jesus comes back.
What is that mark? Love—and the unity it attests to—is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with that mark may the world know that we are indeed Christians.”
(Francis Schaeffer, from his book: The Mark of the Christian)
So, if the greatest commandment is to love God with our whole heart (Matthew 22:36-40), how do we practically carry that out?
I would suggest the primary way that we demonstrate our love for an invisible God is by loving well the visible people that He has placed in front of us on a daily, weekly and monthly basis (1 John 4:7-21).
Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-47,
“You have heard that it was said,
‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that?”
Jesus said in John 13:34-35,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jerome, one of the early church fathers, tells us that when the apostle John was very old, he continued to say again and again, “Little children, love one another, love one another, love one another…” When asked why he said nothing more, his response was, “Because it is the commandment of the Lord, and because when this is done, all is done.”
In this season of great political and racial divide in our nation, it is vital that we stay focused on what is central to following Jesus: loving one another.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with…
Bear with each other and
forgive whatever grievances
you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.”