What Comes First

I recently wrote a column about my forgetfulness. It seems to be getting worse. One morning, I got in my car and was about to leave when I suddenly remembered that I had left something inside the house. I killed the engine and went back inside, but then couldn’t remember what I came back for. On another occasion, I called someone, and when he picked up the phone, I couldn’t remember whom I was calling. I felt so embarrassed when I had to ask, “Who am I talking to please?”

But forgetfulness is not limited only to me. The majority of Christians suffer from the same ailment: they’ve forgotten why God called them to be Christians.

The purpose of the House Church movement is to help traditional churches wake up from their amnesia and remember the purpose for which Jesus built his church. But it’s not just traditional churches but also individual Christians that need to wake up.

When Jewish religious leaders challenged Jesus by asking him the greatest commandment, Jesus answered that the most important thing is to love God and our neighbors (Matt. 22:37-40). At the Last Supper, he told his disciples that love is the true mark of being his disciple (John 13:35). Love is the most important order of business for Christians. Sadly, for many Christians – including myself – love is not the most important issue in their Christian walks.

The love Jesus demanded of us is not ordinary. It’s a love that goes and makes peace with people who have wronged us, even when they’re not ready to say they’re sorry (Matt. 5:23-24). It’s a love that does good to those who hate you, that blesses those who curse you (Luke 6:27-28), that prays for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44).

I think that true love is more about character than specific actions. The Apostle Paul says that if we give all we possess to the poor or surrender our bodies to the flames, but have not love, we gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:3). This implies that it’s possible to act sacrificially but without love. Love is not just about actions, but about character.

Loving character is expressed through small things in our daily lives. 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 record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:4-5). We can define love as the will to help our neighbors become successful or happy.

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to acquire this loving character. Specifically, I will try to restore relationships with people I gave up hope of being friends with. I encourage all of our church members to include love in your New Year’s resolutions.

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