We are commanded, in Matthew 22:36-40, to first and foremost love God with all our being- mind, body, and soul. But, the second commandment tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Difficult? ABSOLUTELY!
My world was rocked when I found out that love and like are not synonymous. They don’t mean the same thing! Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to “like” everyone; but, we are instructed to love them. So what does this mean?
Well, over the years I’ve met many individuals that are difficult to like. There are many people who live lives that are morally, and ethically, different than mine. I might not agree with how they live their lives, how they treat people, and I might not even agree with how they treat their dog, but I am commanded to love them- not like them.
Everyone we see is portraying some type of image. It might be real, or it could be fake. Either way, the image they are portraying doesn’t necessarily reflect who they are inside. If they portray an image we don’t like, or wouldn’t reflect ourselves, that doesn’t change the fact that we are commanded to love them. If they behave in a way that isn’t in line with our own belief systems, we don’t have to like them (in fact, we may not like them because of how they behave) but we still have to love them.
I reconcile this commandment to love our neighbours to mean we should love the eternal soul everyone has. I love the heart of the person, not the image, action, or behaviour. And when I love, I love what that person is on the inside- NOT the image or actions being portrayed on the outside. But, this still doesn’t mean you have to like the person.
You may know friends, co-workers, or even family who are difficult to like. And that’s okay. But, I will encourage you to see the heart, the eternal soul and love them. Sometimes it means loving from a distance. Sometimes it means avoiding potentially harmful situations (certain family, friends, or work events) to avoid outright conflict, but we can do something to follow the commandment to love them.
Be sure to lift others up in prayer. Especially those that are difficult to like. Not to ask God to make them more likeable, but to allow God to show you how to love them!
Usually when you think of ‘cheating’, you think of a person who is doing something dishonest to get ahead without having to work as hard as someone who accomplishes their means through honest efforts and hard work. In a marriage, ‘cheating’ is when one partner steps outside their marriage vows to engage in relations with someone who is not their partner. That isn’t what this blog is about. This blog entry is about people who have an allegiance to their place of worship, even if this place isn’t adhering to biblical principles, isn't helping them advance in their spiritual walk, or is maintaining an exclusive mentality where newcomers struggle to be welcomed. Maybe they feel they can’t leave because it might hurt someone’s feelings, or because they believe things would change too drastically if they weren’t there.
Some people are loyal because they are comfortable, or because they’ve always gone there. Being faithful to a local church is fine, as long as it adheres to scriptural principles- focusing on advancing each and every person to growing in their faith. But when the focus becomes on anything else, don’t you think it might be time rethink why you attend there? Understandably, you might be there to help implement change. And if so, please be obedient to this call. But sometimes, when a person thinks they have to go to the church they have always gone to, but it isn’t meeting their needs, they might stop going to church at all.
Let me introduce to you something we call the ‘Kingdom-mentality’. This is the idea that our focus is in helping to disciple individuals and spread the word about Jesus and his saving, redeeming grace. It isn’t about ownership, or membership, in an exclusive single congregation. Our goal at the Bridge is to help individuals grow in their faith and walk with the Lord to best prepare them for the calling the Lord has placed on their lives. What does this mean? If someone comes to our life group, we consider it a privilege to be part of their journey. We also consider it a privilege to help encourage them, help them grow, and share in all the aspects of their life. And, if the Lord calls them to use their talents at another location, whatever that may be, we send them with love.
We have many people who are part of our life groups and who also attend other church services. That is great! If the Lord blesses us by bringing people into our circles, then we should be willing to encourage, teach, disciple, and help prepare them for their calling. We, at The Bridge, consider this an honour! As a pastor, I understand the need to ‘Shepherd the Flock’. But, since the church is the people (not just a building), and the people are constantly moving, it would be a mistake to say that they have to stay at a single location for their entire journey.
Now, this poses a problem for many churches. Churches usually create their budget based on attendance. So, if the budget is set, and then attendance declines, panic sets in, because suddenly the budget might not be met. Unfortunately, many churches are expense-heavy. They have to pay for the building they use, the staff, number of programs run, and many other factors, which makes it hard to focus on maintaining a kingdom mentality. The last thing churches want is a constant fluctuation in attendance.
Being a church planter has allowed me to rethink traditionalism. It has also allowed me to see the importance of God’s children, not bricks and mortar. It is far more important to advance a brother or sister in Christ than it is to focus on the meeting location and the expenses that it incurs.
As a servant in Christ, I encourage you to help someone advance and prepare for the calling God has placed on their life.
From time to time, Rev D posts random thoughts about life as a Pastor and Servant of Christ. He has a unique perspective. Blog entries are posted randomly.