“So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” 1 Corinthians 13:3 (MSG)
Despite having a million different beliefs about life and why we’re here and what’s important, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: this world would benefit from a little more love. If you’re not convinced, turn on the news for five minutes. Something seems broken, doesn’t it? Now, rather than get discouraged by it, think of the effect that a whole lot of love would have. If we loved each other well, it would change everything.
So what is love, really?
According to the Bible, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Maybe some of you have heard this before. It most often shows up at weddings and is used in reference to romantic love, but there’s a lot more going on here than just advice for a happy marriage.
In Matthew 22:37-39, when asked which is the greatest commandment of all time, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’
So, who’s my neighbor?
Jesus isn’t telling us to love only the people whose property lines touch ours, but anyone whose lives touch ours. In this context, everyone we come in contact with is considered our neighbor: friends, family, co-workers, the guy who cuts you off on the highway, and the woman in front of you in line at the grocery store who is taking twice as long as she should be when you have somewhere to be. Every single person.
This changes things, doesn’t it? Now, going back to 1 Corinthians 13, we must be patient with and kind to everyone, even perfect strangers, and not be envious of them, not be rude to them, and not keep track of all the wrong things they do. We must not use them to get what we want or get angry with them. We must protect and trust them. I’m sorry, what?!
So what if I don’t feel the love?
Contrary to popular opinion, love is more an action than a feeling. Sure, we feel love as an emotion, but that feeling doesn’t always last when things get tough. And we certainly don’t feel love towards people who treat us terribly. The type of love the Bible talks about is love that is shown in our actions. We can choose to love people even when we don’t necessarily feel like we love them.
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin.” Luke 6:35 (NCV)
If all that sounds to you like it’d be pretty hard, you’re in good company. It isn’t easy to show love to people who don’t show it to us, or worse, who are our a actual enemies. So why do we even bother? Well, it’s hard to argue with the positive effects of love, but we take it even one step further. According to the Bible, without love, we are bankrupt; we have nothing. We believe that love, and more specifically God’s love, has the power to change the world, to heal all the brokenness around us. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we believe that through that love, God is making all things new (Revelation 21:4-5).
Speaking of making all things new…
Church of the Open Door is undergoing some major changes! Because we want to be a part of God’s constant renewing process, we are always listening to God’s leading and trying to improve on the work we’re doing in His name. Our mission as a church is to love God, love people, and live surrendered. We are striving to build a community where we can learn how to love each other like God loves us and grow together as a result.
As a part of this desire, we have recently launched something called the 20/20 Vision campaign and have raised money for a number of different projects, including renovations to our different locations. The goal of these renovations is to repurpose our current spaces to better serve a key part of our mission: to build a community space where the love we’re talking about can grow and spread.
Without love, we are bankrupt. Even when we don’t feel like loving someone, we must choose to do so. We know that it’s God’s love that brings true healing, God’s love that can actually change the world even when it’s difficult, and it’s time more of us got in on the action!
“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NCV)
For more specific information on our 20/20 Vision campaign, visit: 2020.opendoor.tv. For more information about all the other exciting things happening at Church of the Open Door, visit: www.opendoor.tv.