The past few weeks we have been taking time to look back at the 4-fold vision for Colonial Heights. Last week Jerry shared with us about the importance of us “Knowing Our People.” Today, we are taking a look at how we “Love Our Community” both as individuals and as a church family. If we are going to love our community well, we have to see them as God sees them. We need to love with the kind of love He gives us. We see the topic of love, specifically God’s love, mentioned quite often in the book of 1 John.
1 John 2:9-10 “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.”
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the tings in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
1 John 3:16-18 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
John continues this discussion of love in 1John 4 and this passage is where I want to take a closer look.
Our love for others is evidence that we are truly followers of Christ.
In verses 7-8, John tells us that we will show love if we are born of God and know Him. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
If we claim to be followers of Christ, then the proof our salvation is our love for others.
I like how John Piper describes the way “God is love.”
“Love is from God the way heat is from fire, or the way light is from the sun. Love belongs to God’s nature. It’s woven into what he is. It’s part of what it means to be God. The sun gives light because it is light. And fire gives heat because it is heat. So John’s point is that in the new birth, this aspect of the divine nature becomes part of who you are. The new birth is the imparting to you of divine life and an indispensable part of that life is love. God’s nature is love, and in the new birth that nature becomes part of who you are… When you are born again, God himself is imparted to you. He dwells in you and sheds abroad in your heart his love. And his aim is that this love be perfected in you. Notice the phrase ‘his love’ in verse 12. The love that you have as a born again person is no mere imitation of the divine love. It is an experience of the divine love and an extension of that love to others.”
As followers of Christ we are essentially a reflection of God’s love and we are pouring out His love to those around us. We see the ultimate example of God’s love in verse 9 and 10. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his one Son into the world, so that we might love through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We need to look no further than the cross to see how much God loves us. That should stir us to love others.
When we show love to others, God’s love is perfected.
1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
Anytime we see the word perfection associated with us in the Bible we should pay attention because we know that we are not perfect in any aspect. Perfection is actually a word that we only think of to describe the things of God and His Son. This is what makes this passage astounding. God is giving Himself to us so that we can perfect his love when sharing it with others. But you see, this also points back to Him! We are His helpers to point others to him. This is why its perfection. His goal of reaching others is working when we obey him and reach others.
Daniel Akin says, “John makes his point by stating that when we love one another, It is proof that God abides continually in us, and His love (God’s love for us; his kind of love) is perfected brought to complete maturity. It reaches its intended goal. I can love others as God loves me because He lives in me and His love will reach its intended goal, which is that I will love others as He loves me. It is a wonderful circle of theological truth that cannot be broken. After all, God is its source, it’s maintenance, and it’s perfection. It is all of God from beginning to end.”
So many times we see in scripture this cycle, we have tasks we can’t do on our own. The Lord gives us the power to do them so that we can reach more people for Him. God does this on purpose so that He will receive all the glory.
Loving our community should also include our own neighborhood.
There are opportunities within your own community to show God’s love. Many people who live near you are hurting and need to know that someone cares. More importantly, they need to know that God loves them and desires a relationship with them.
There is a great tool called “Bless Every Home.” You can find it at www.blesseveryhome.com. On this site you can sign up to receive daily emails that will tell you specific neighbors to pray for. We also have cards in the Commons you can leave at their house to let them know you prayed for them. Prayerfully, the Lord will open doors for you to share the gospel with your neighbors.
What is holding us back?
1. TIME - In my opinion, our biggest problem in why we don’t love others like we should is that we do not manage our time well. We are all just too busy. We do not stop and make time to do ministry like we should. Most of the time the things that we have on our schedule are not bad in and of themselves, but they take up all of our time. What are some things that you as a family need to say “no” to so that you can have time to do ministry?
2. FEAR - I also believe that we allow fear to keep us from doing ministry.
We tend to make excuses for reasons we don’t talk to others about the Lord or take time to love others through ministry. We are afraid that we will not know the right thing to say or that we will be rejected. Trust in the knowledge that God has given us all that we need, and he will equip us to say the right things. We know that He has given us His love to share with others.
Verse 18 tells us that we don’t need to fear! “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
We have work to do! We need to keep looking for opportunities both as a church and as individuals to share Christ’s love with others. Let us be obedient to the command given in 1 John 4:21 “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Let us look to the cross for the reminder of how much love was given to us so that we will share that love.
Prayer Points for Love Our Community
Pray for God to continue to show us ways we can reach our community.
Pray we would be faithful to share the gospel with those in our community.
Pray that Colonial Heights would be a place of love and light to Ridgeland and beyond.
Pray our church members would look for ways to show love to the neighbors in our neighborhoods.