God is by very nature love. His love is what holds the stars in place, changes the seasons and gives us life. His love is supreme. It’s amazing to realize in all the vastness of creation and magnificence of it all that he chose to reveal His love most perfectly through us. Here’s a great example of love displayed. Click Here The Carpenter’s Story is an amazing picture of what love can do. The beauty of it all is that God expresses his love and desire for love through all our lives.
Love Transforms the Mundane
People connect with each other every day at the grocery store or bank, in phone conversations and e-mail / letters, eating at a restaurant or driving, teaching or being taught, talking to accountants or to babies. The love of Christ can transform the most difficult or common encounters into life altering spiritual experiences.
Love is Foundational
It is important to make love the foundation of your lifestyle. You should always be challenging yourself to be learning to love. When discussing “Learning to Love” we are learning about one of the foundational principles of life. 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the ESV, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is wide, high, deep, and long (Ephesians 3:18). When you accept the challenge to learn to love you will open up a door of opportunity that allows God through the Holy Spirit to teach you and others about true love.
Love is Hard
Love is not always a natural process. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Friends, family, and other “loved ones,” are not always lovable. Let’s face it; we’re not always lovable either. One thing is for sure; God calls us to love with the love that he shares with us through His son Jesus. Furthermore, loving those that you can’t seem to love because they have wronged, hurt, or betrayed you (or someone you love) is incredibly difficult. But through God’s love even the worst of offenders can become lovable.
Love is Essential
Learning to Love is essential to any spiritual development. As we fall more in love with our Creator we will see a difference in the way we treat (love) others. The greatest of all gifts that God has given to us is love. If it weren’t for love we would have no salvation. If it weren’t for love we would have no peace, grace, mercy, or future home in heaven. God “is” Love. (John 3:16) Learning to love is essential because it allows God to reveal himself to a world that desperately needs a savior, and we have the privilege of being how he reveals himself to the world. (John 17)
Love is Learned in Community
Community is vital to learning to love. It gives us an opportunity 1) to learn how to accept God’s love 2) accept the love of others and 3) personally express love.
The Divine Community
The Bible portrays God as a loving community between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons who are inseparably one in their being. How this works, precisely, is a mystery. But what it means is simple enough. If loving community is core to God’s nature, and if we are made in God’s image, then loving community is core to our new nature too. What we call Church is nothing less than God’s love invitation to be a part of His community.
The Early Church Community
Think about what the Church community must have looked like for the early church. They had no indoor plumbing, no air-conditioning, no hot or cold running water, no TV, video games, or even cell phones. The community of the early church was full of people who lived each day with one purpose in mind, survival. Yet, in the midst of the difficulties they found time to talk, go to church, pray, raise their families, and even play. Why? They needed each other.
The Modern Church Community
Think about the community environment of the modern church. We are saturated with entertainment, food, and music to name a few. We never have time to slow down, read a book, take a walk, or eat dinner together as a family. And if we wanted to do any of those things we may choose not to because they feel foreign and uncomfortable. In the middle of our busy lifestyles we still desire many of the same things that the early church did. Why? Because we are humans, and the human condition has not changed despite how the community environment has changed.
People of all walks of life, generations, and backgrounds ultimately long for the same things. They long for real authentic community driven with a common purpose and passion. This can only be accomplished in a community created through God’s love expressed through us. God’s loving community is best expressed through God’s loving community.
Community in Action
Romans 12 is a great example of what Christian Community based on learning to love looks like. Lets look at the many expressions of loving community found in this Chapter.
Spiritual Act of Worship
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies bas a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Gifts of Grace
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, pin proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What would you say are the most important things a person can do when discovering the importance of healthy community? Can you identify these things in R12?
When you read through R12 what new thoughts and challenges did God share with you in relations to the scripture?
Identify some examples of healthy community. Do they line up with R12? Why or Why not?
If you lived your life according to R12 what would Change?