Beloved, Love One Another By George Stroh, Senior Pastor March 22, 2010
"For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another..."(1 John 2:11)
Jesus was once asked; "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus responded; "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 2:36-39).
I am very blessed and thankful to be a part of Maranatha Bible Church (MBC) where the people do indeed love God first, love one another, love their neighbors and even strangers. Christians are known by their love for Jesus Christ and their love for others; "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8)
This word translated "love" is the Greek word "agape", the selfless kind of love that only those who know Christ can truly manifest. This kind of love doesn't seek for anything in return and is not motivated only by emotions or feelings. It is manifest by loving words and actions towards others. The greatest example of this agape Love comes from God Himself; "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16).
I am privileged to see this agape love on a regular basis at MBC. People who unselfishly love, serve and care for others only because they love Jesus Christ who first loved them. We are a relatively small church numerically, but a very large church when measured by agape love. It is so encouraging to know that these saints are always ready to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each other, as well as, others who are not part of MBC. As their Pastor, I am very proud of these folks who are such faithful ambassadors of Jesus Christ, making Him known and demonstrating His agape love.
It is, of course, more difficult to love our enemies than our friends. Yet Jesus instructed us to do just that; "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,'" (Matthew 5:43-44) As the time grows nearer for the rapture of the church and the return of Jesus Christ, we should expect increased persecution from our enemies. The world hates Jesus and His followers. Nevertheless, we must continue to love them, including proclaiming the Gospel to them, the ultimate demonstration of God's love. As His faithful ambassadors, you and I may be the only Bible someone reads; "Beloved, let us love one another..."