Loving One Another
The Greatest Command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And the second is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-40).
These commandments are for our good, but they do not come naturally to us. They are important; indeed all of the Law and the prophets hang on these two commands (Matt 22:40). And the first orders the second. We do not love our neighbor as we see fit, but as God commands and demonstrates. God is love and he demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). His preceding love for us is sacrificial; our responding love for him is growing intimacy and obedience. "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me" (Jn 14:21). We cannot therefore love God apart from knowing and obeying him.
Loving Your Neighbor
Loving your neighbor is often difficult. Jesus gives radical examples in scripture of how to do this. Ultimately, the most powerful way to love your neighbor is to bring them into relationship with God, as this affects our eternities and every area of our broken lives. But that is the work of the Holy Spirit and our part in the process will be as he decides. We may be the one that helps them understand or believe the gospel, or the one that shares it with them for the first time, or the one that sends that one that will share (Rom 10:13-14).
For those that desire to love their neighbors by sharing the gospel, this often starts by demonstrating love elsewhere: 1) for God and 2) for your church community. Kevin King says that “to have an opportunity to share the gospel, people have to know that you are a spiritual person. Those that are spiritually receptive have to know that you are too.” In addition to “turning up the volume” and “living out loud” as he says, Jesus said that people would know that we are his disciples by our love for one another (Jn 13:35). The first is how we outwardly express our love for God, while the second is how we display our love for our church community.
Upward, Inward, Outward
So, as we see and feel the world’s brokenness, let us bring to our neighbors lasting remedies. There are broken relationships all around and we are not their remedy by ourselves. We must first look to God and his commandments, not in any way to delay action, but in order to take the correct action.
And even as we are engaged in loving the world through our words and deeds, let us have a genuine love for one another. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jn 13:34). This type of genuine love is contagious, and when the world sees it, they are attracted to it.
Finally, Jesus loved and discipled the apostles intensely, even primarily, but his ministry was not merely attractional. While our gospel communities should be attractive because of our love for one another, our Lord pursued those that were lost. He came to seek and save those who were lost (Lk 19:10), because he loved them. This overflow of joy and love in the fellowship of the Trinity, from which love poured then, is the same source from which we will find ourselves loved and be filled with love for one another and for the world.