Forgetting to Love Your Fellow Man
In church this past Wednesday we watched a video that touched on the love of Christ and how most Christians do not even realize how much they lack love for others. I was thankful for the time to self-reflect and hear from the Holy Spirit on what may seem as such a general topic. We preach it from pulpits, sunday school classrooms and coffee shops around the country that we are to go make disciples, reach a lost world for Christ. We can mistakenly associate the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) with the love we are to have according to the Apostle John.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18 ESV
There are so many missionaries and ministers of the gospel both home and abroad who genuinely love their fellow man, so I say some of this within that context. When I first began the ministry journey I remember being so excited to win souls for Christ. I was so eager to make an impact for the kingdom that I often caused as much damage as I did good. I was so zealous to do things right on the outside and learned the hard way that what is truly on the inside is not only what God see, it will eventually be what everyone will see.
In the western church, the drive for church growth, book sales and conference seats being filled can often blind us from the real dictate of the gospel. Laying down our lives for the church, the Bride of Christ. We are to love the unsaved as well, but the world will know that we are Christians because of the way we love each other (John 13:35). The Great Commission is not so much about love as it is obedience and the Christ being worthy of the reward of His sufferings. We get so busy about the things of God that we forget about the people of God.
As a preacher, the danger of becoming zealous and lacking love can come out in fiery preaching that can damage the church. Since I was a kid in an Assemblies of God church, the running joke about traveling evangelists is that they do the real preaching, while the pastor does the real cleaning. How true that bit of sarcasm is… Evangelists are called by God and have a role in the Body of Christ, but it is real easy to go into a different chruch each week and preach your heart out until the people bleed and then walk away pumped up for the next time. However, the local pastor has the challenge of literally loving the congregation, preaching, teaching and leading consistently.
I find it impossible to love the people of God without the power of the Holy Spirit, and I know that many times I have functioned in the flesh instead. A false love for people can be masked and depending on the endurance of the individual, for a very long time. Preaching a fiery sermon of fire and brimstone with no tender ministry to the people is usually a sign. Preaching a watered down message to grow the church is also a sign There is a balance, of which I am not master or even close to attaining. Don’t get me wrong, preaching a fire brimstone message can often be necessary and appropriate, but we should never find ourselves having a reputation for harsh preaching, instead a reputation for truth in love.