"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34,35
Many today think that because we are not under the law of the Old Testament that we are free to do what we wish and are not obligated to follow any spiritual laws, but Jesus gave us as New Testament believers commands that He expects us to obey! Love is not an option, love is the basis of, as well as, the foundation of Christianity. Without love we have nothing because He first loved us and expects us to love everyone else as He did.
When one becomes a new creation by faith he enters the kingdom of God by grace having been born again and the Spirit of God enters into his very being bringing with Him the nature and character of the Most High. The fruit of the Spirit is birthed within us with outward signs that we are indeed born again. The very first fruit and most important is love, not fleshly love, nor erotic love, but agape love, the same love that God has for us when He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. Love is defined by having a list of its own components that make up the nature of God and are manifested in us as we grow and mature in the Lord.
The new birth can be likened to a fruit tree planted in fertile soil and as it begins to grow and mature it begins to bear fruit and can be recognized by what it bears. An apple tree bears apples, a peach tree bears peaches and a Jesus tree bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit. That is how the children of God and the children of the devil are recognized, by their fruit. Remember when Jesus warned that you will know false prophets and shepherds by their fruit and that grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes. Jesus also spoke about the tares and the wheat, the tares looking like wheat when they first begin to grow but after the wheat begins to bear fruit the tares become evident and are thrown out and burned and Jesus said that so it will be at the end of the age.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23
LOVE IS THE KEY TO ETERNAL LIFE
And behold, a certain lawyer (expert in Jewish law) stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Luke 10:25
The most important question in all of the word of God was asked by a Jewish lawyer, one who was well versed in the law of Moses, a question that has divided the body of Christ and caused much confusion and speculation, but Jesus gave him the answer. Jesus asked him what was written in the law, a strange question maybe for modern day Gentiles like us, but nonetheless it was the right one to ask because the law reveals the correct answer, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves!
Jesus told the lawyer that he had answered correctly and told him to do this, and he would have eternal life. He didn't tell him to bow his head and pray the sinner's prayer, He didn't tell him to join the church, get baptized, or take communion, He said to establish a love relationship with God and to love everyone else on the planet with the same love that we have for ourselves. Love everyone? Jesus said to love even our enemies. Who did Jesus die for, only certain good people, did He die only for a select group or did He die for everyone who was in need of a Savior? Think of the most vile, corrupt and hateful sinner in history, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden only to name a few and Jesus died that they might believe, repent and be saved. Did they, probably not, but they had the chance at the last moment to cry out for mercy and God would have forgiven even the worst of the worst and given them eternal life.
This is a hard nut to crack and wrap your head around the fact that God could actually forgive anyone who has lived a vile and hateful life: drug addicts, pimps, child molesters, rapists, murderers, democrats and yes even Barack Obama. It is obvious in the church today how believers talk about, hurl abuse at, and even curse someone, who is President of the United States, one who Jesus said to pray for and yet they treat him as one who has caused every problem in the world, a sinner like us who Jesus shed His blood for. Do you get the picture yet, we don't have the luxury to hate and curse people like the world does because we are sons and daughters of the Most High God, washed in the blood of His only begotten and entrusted with His Holy Spirit.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:29
Good question, who is my neighbor, the guy next door, that nice couple down the street, the grocer, the baker or the candlestick maker? Yes they are our neighbors but so are the homosexual, the deviates, prostitutes, topless dancers, drug dealers, the poor and destitute, illegal aliens, those with AIDS, the unlovely, the crippled, blind and lame, the elderly and anyone who needs Jesus just as we did when we came to Christ!
That is what we as believers are called to be, stewards of the love and forgiveness of God! Where will the sinner find mercy, from the church, maybe some, but most say that they don't want people like that, why they might steal from us, or worse, kill us. Yes, maybe so, but nonetheless we are called to love, forgive and help them find Jesus and then disciple them in the ways of Christ. I remember the first time as a Christian that I was introduced to a homosexual man who had AIDS in an organization that housed them and allowed them to be treated with dignity and respect and so immediately when I was introduced to him as a Christian worker, he jumped back and said to me, "Are you going to cram a gospel tract in my pocket!" At that point the Holy Spirit was showing me how we have been hypocrites to this group of people and have neglected the love that we were shown by the Lord Jesus Christ!
The man I had the pleasure of meeting is dead now from the ravages of a horrible disease but he was shown mercy by us and we became friends with Randy and I don't know if he got saved or not, but we loved him and shared with him but most importantly we became his friends, making him feel wanted, something the Christian population, me included, have failed miserably at. You cannot change a homosexual, nor a drug addict, nor any sinner, only God can, our job is to exhibit the love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness of a holy God who gave up His Son that we might all inherit eternal life! May God forgive us and have mercy on us because our actions have spoken louder than our words!
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother (or anyone else for that matter) in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? I John 3:16,17
Your servant in Christ, Tim Laughlin