I serve as an associate pastor at an urban church in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you went down to your local Walmart and looked around at all the different kinds of people there, you’d have a real good idea of what our church looks like. Now we also have various “ethnic churches” that meet on our campus as well. Lets see… there’s an Eritrean fellowship, a Burmese fellowship, a Montagnard fellowship( I don’t think I’m missing anyone); and once every few months, we all get together and have one big International Service. Today was one of those days.
To be sure, I can’t understand everything that is being said or sung; but, its easy to recognize the same precious Spirit that lives within every believer. As I look around and see all the different people from so many different places, there is a love in my heart that only one who has been born again can know. As we all come together, crying out to God, praying, and singing songs, there is genuine love and compassion that is tangible and heart felt; and I know I am getting a glimpse of what it will be like when those from every tribe, every kindred, and every tongue gather at the throne of Almighty God and worship Him shoulder to shoulder, with one voice.
You know, the Apostle John said, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.”(I John 3:14) That’s pretty heavy when you think about it, being able to tell you’re alive in Christ by whether or not you love the people of God. Now we know that there are other criteria that should also be examined as to how we know if we’re in Christ or not (read I John); but, John assures us that if we are not walking in love we are not in Christ. Wow!! I can be a big time preacher, a gifted worship leader, or a learned theologian; but, if I am not walking in love…
I find it interesting that John was one of the disciples that Jesus referred to as a “son of thunder.” Remember, John was one of the ones who asked the Lord if He wanted them to call fire down from heaven to consume some who would not receive Jesus. (Luke 9:54) Here we have this obviously intense individual who was transformed by Jesus into the “Apostle of Love.” In fact, church tradition says that when John was a very old man, he would often have to be literally carried into the place where the disciples would meet; and all he would tell the believers was, “Love each other little children.” Here was the man who had written the book of Revelation, seen the glorified Christ; and, all he preached towards the end of his life was love.
In Matthew 22: 34 -40 we read:
“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?'”
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'”
So, let me ask you; “How’s your love life?”