If could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.
We live in a broken world. A quick glance at the nightly news will confirm this reality. The brutal murders, the political scandals, the high profile divorces, and the economic struggles remind us how violent, dishonest, and out of control our world really is. This world is filled with people who are hurt, lonely, scared, and living without hope.
People who are living in this brokenness do not need lectures on the evils of sin. I know as Christians we think we have an obligation to declare God’s righteous law, but lectures on morality are the last thing people need when they are living through the consequences of sin. They know their lives are not what they should be, and often they know their actions are not what they should be, but they are unable to make sense of the world around them or bring lasting change to their lives.
Likewise, while it is very important to know why we can trust the Bible, a discussion on the reliability of the Bible does not help a person struggling with depression to find hope, or the lonely person to find companionship. These facts fail to meet their deepest needs.
What these people need is the clear demonstration that they are not facing life alone. Many times Jesus taught in response to the questions people asked about his actions. The parables Jesus taught in Luke 15 (The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, The Prodigal Son) are in response to why Jesus hung out with sinners.
When love is our primary focus and service our primary action then we will be presented times to explain the Gospel. We should never think teaching and preaching are the two most important gifts the Church has to offer the world. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that our most important gift to the world is love.
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias wrote:
In a world full of hate and suspicion, what a distinctive role the Christian can play. This is the only way in which the spread of alienation is arrested and the nearness of Christ’s love is brought even nearer to so many who are lonely. All the the hatred that is demonstrated in our world has resulted from a world that knows no Appreciative love toward the very author of life. (Cries of the Heart, p. 179)
Jesus, the night that he was betrayed, told his disciples:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciple.” (John 13:34-35; NLT)
Jesus teaches us that our love for each other, for our fellow believers, is an illustration to the world of what it means to be a Christian. Our love for each other is powerful evidence that life in the Church, within God’s Kingdom, is different than life in the world. We, the body of Christ, need to learn to love each other and care for one another so the people of the world can understand it is possible to experience the love they crave.
Too many people have been turned off to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because the church family they knew was far from loving. Why would people want to be part of a fellowship, if that is what it can be called, that is filled with gossip, fighting, and divisions?
The apostle Peter emphasizes love as well:
The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. (1 Peter 4:7-9; NLT)
Love is important for the Church, as demonstrated by the local church family, because love helps people overlook mediocre preaching, terrible singing, and inadequate teaching. What people are truly seeking is love, acceptance, and hope.
The world is an unloving place. For the Church to stand out requires Christians to love. We are to love each other and create a loving environment within our church families, but we are also to serve those outside of the Church so they can experience God’s love through us. A loving church family allows people to see the Gospel message fleshed out, and that makes it possible for them to know that Jesus Christ makes a difference in their lives.
If we really want to make difference in this world it will begin with our love for each other and our compassion for the lost. Our love is what draws the world to Jesus. Without love the Gospel will be lost amongst the competing philosophies and religions of the world.
If we don’t love it doesn’t matter what else we do, because all we are doing is making noise. Don’t just make noise in the world, but also seek to make a difference.
Questions to consider:
- How have you experienced the brokenness of the world?
- How was Jesus’ love tied to his message?
- Why is it important for Christians to love?