Spoiler alert, Jesus juke ahead: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (John chapter 7, verse 21) In my own conviction, I am reading this as the two great C’s The great commandment and the great commission.
Fulfilling Jesus’ “Great Commandment” loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Fulfilling Jesus’ “Great Commission” (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”) sharing the gospel with unbelievers, in the hopes that they’ll actually hear the message of Jesus, believe in Him, and become Christians.
What does this mean practically?
I don’t know exactly, but I have a few ideas. I have a few ideas of how I interpret this direction in my own life. If my neighbor is without and I would provide for myself, I am to provide for my neighbor in a selfless way, not in a self-sacrificing way. These are entirely my opinions and only worth well, I don’t know the answer to that either.
I want to take a moment to discuss what the Word has directed love to be to create a fuller picture of “loving” our neighbors as we love self. The well-known love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. According to the writer, love is the following things:
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
…13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I have seen this displayed in word and offers of prayer, but I don’t believe that is what Jesus expects of us as His children. This is the action verb form of love, and I venture to believe all the love references the Bible holds for us is action not lip service. There are young people and older people alike leaving the church faster than fellow church members can ask them why… What is our role when loving our neighbor.
I believe here is where we behave as Christ did. He did… He acted, He moved, and He loved through doing, acting, and moving. He could have spoken healing for the blind man who saw men as trees part way through his healing, but He did not… He chose to reach deeper into the man’s life through space invading and providing something more than healing but also connection. (Mark 8:23-25)
“23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Were Jesus’ actions necessary for the blind man’s healing? No. But, can we learn something from
Jesus’ choice to lead, touch, and heal a man in need? More than yes!
I believe Jesus took this moment and demonstrated the great commandment to love your neighbor. He wants to connect with us in more than words, and as we are made in His image and charged to be a reflection of Christ, we are expected to connect to our neighbors. The man was not untouchable despite his obvious imperfections. Jesus made certain to demonstrate how we are to encounter others in need.
I am guilty of hurting others, and I have been stung in church both enough for my taste, but I am sure I will be hurt in the church again. I still go, I still gather with fellow believers… it’s not about “them,” it’s about me. I attend because I read “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” and this is for a good reason. We need one another. “Church people” are wholly people with an advantage of the revelation of Christ and His unconditional love
and response to us as His children and followers. This means despite our mere humanity, we are charged with rising above the standards of societal expectations and community relations and do all Christ empowers us to do well, love well. …love with excellence and serve well- service with excellence.
I am not looking for a perfect church because my sin nature and continual failings will corrupt such a fantastical place. I am looking for other believers to behave as children of a Father who presented love as the only way of life. I never want it said of me I was in fear of touching another life due to the complications of distress and challenge neither do I want to be considered an untouchable.