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Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World

November 10, 2014 0 Comments

In his article, “The Gospel in its Fullness,” Chuck Colson shares this thought that speaks volumes about why Jesus came into the world:

One of the things I do when I meet people is ask them, “What is Christianity?” Undoubtedly half will respond, “A relationship with Jesus.” That is wrong. The gospel cannot be merely about a private transaction. … Jesus came as a radical to turn the world upside down. When we believe it is just about Jesus and yourself, we miss the whole point. (emphasis added)

Colson goes on to point out that the Gospel is a world view, a way of life, designed to be shared with others in community. I completely agree with this concept. With this as an introduction, I’d like to apply this understanding to examine the meaning of the phrase “Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World.”

Love God

In John 8:31-32, we read what I believe is the greatest conditional proposition ever spoken:. “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus’ point is that if you abide in His word, you not only know it intellectually, but you experience it vicariously. While bible study is necessary, it is not sufficient. Jesus not only wants us to love Him, but to love and care for His sheep. He makes this point in speaking with Peter – not once, but three times, He tells Peter that if he truly loves Jesus, to “feed My lambs …take care of My sheep …feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17). It is easy to focus on bible study only. Creating community and lifestyle application for discipleship training is much more challenging.

Love Each Other

A ministry my church has been involved in since the late 1990s is “The Great Banquet.” It is a 72 hour spiritual retreat lasting from Thursday evening to Sunday late afternoon. Designed to introduce non-Christians to Christ, and strengthen existing Christians’ walk with Christ, it has, at its core, the concept of building Christian Community. Those who go through this weekend experience are encouraged to come back to serve other people who, in turn, experience this spiritual retreat for the first time. Over the years (we’ve now done 69 of these banquet retreats), we have built a vibrant, loving community of fellow believers who, as the Body of Christ, seek to build up others toward spiritual maturity, and gain a sense of personal spiritual renewal through the process. This concept of community, as Colson points out, is central to the message of Jesus. In John 14:2, Jesus tells us: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you.” The Greek word used here for house is “insula.” At Ray Vander Laan’s website we read this description of the word “insula” – used by Jesus to describe His Father’s “house:”

People in Galilee often lived in family housing complexes known as insulae (singular: insula). Although not everyone lived this way, many people (particularly extended families) combined living units around an open courtyard. This living arrangement allowed extended families to live, work, and interact with each other on a daily basis. The family’s values were preserved as young people learned from the stories of older family members. As sons married, they built additional rooms on the family insula and brought their bride to live with their extended family. (emphasis added)

To love each other, and care for God’s sheep, we must live in community with one another.

Serve the World

Recently, my friend, Micah Clark with the American Family Association of Indiana, provided me with this statistic, based on research from the Barna Group:

A study conducted by the Barna Group discovered that nearly 60 percent of all Christians from 15 years of age to 29 years of age are no longer actively involved in any church.

I paid particular attention to this statistic, as the President of the Barna Group is David Kinnaman. It just so happens that I am currently reading his 2007 book titled Unchristian. In that book, he notes that only 3% of Christians have a biblically informed world view. Kinnaman writes:

Our research indicates that we have let discipleship languish in far too many young lives. Our enthusiasm for evangelism is not matched by our passion for and patience with discipleship and faith formation. (p. 77)

I suspect one reason the Church in America has done a poor job of discipleship is that we’ve had our focus everywhere else but on those things that create true disciples. In his book, Church Unique, author Will Mancini asks people to describe their church in ten words or less. His challenge to church leaders is that if hardly anyone comes up with the same description, then the church leaders have not infused their congregation with a cross-functional lifestyle vision. Mancini goes further, writing:

When programs exist in a vision vacuum, the how of doing the program displaces the why in the heart of the program’s leaders. We need the vision to raise our sight to see the why behind the program to begin with. (emphasis added)

What is God Calling Your Church to Do?

I believe that each church has a certain set of shared experiences, ministries and gifted people that constitute their unique Kingdom ministry, if only they would take the time to focus on those qualities. Determining what “Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World” means for your congregation requires that you engage in an intentional, focused discussion. I’ve created an online, on-demand video based course that can help in that regard titled Pursuing Your Mission from God: Leading Your Ministry Into the Promised Land. Having said this, and given the state of our culture, I’d like to suggest that the answer to what “Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World” might be is something like the following:

  1. What if we recognized that to “Love God,” we must intentionally feed His sheep and take care of His lambs – particularly teens and young adults? We adore little children, as we should, but we tend to shrug our shoulders as they turn 16 and approach adulthood.
  2. What if we recognized that to “Love Each Other,” we must intentionally focus on ministries that touch families. What if we, as a congregation, understood that “love each other” means to build families through sound biblical teaching, community building ministries, and intentionally loving people suffering in their marriage, their jobs, and the circumstances of life that threaten to undermine the family – and that the older members of our congregations have a unique role to play in this process?
  3. What if we recognized that to “Serve the World,” we must intentionally extend our church family into the community. As the average age of church members continues to increase, “seasoned seniors” must consider how they might best pass the baton to the next generation. In Titus Chapter 2, instruction is given so that older men and older women will instruct younger men and women on how to lead godly, productive lives so that the grace of God might be revealed, “bringing salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).

What about you and your church? We all suffer from the “Tyranny of the Urgent.” Certainly, church finances are urgent, but young people want to go where God is active, and where young people are welcomed. Will you take a few minutes to take your eyes away from the merely urgent, and focus on both the urgent AND the important question of how we pass the baton to the next generation of Christians? We are in danger of fumbling the hand-off. We need to make straight arrows out of our children, and the only way to do that is invest in the nurturing and discipleship of those in our care. If we fail in this task, then there will be no church budget in need of balancing.

thinkleadkindleDavid Lantz is the author of Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses: Leadership Lessons from the Wilderness Crucible. Based on his book, David has developed two online leadership courses: Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses and Pursuing Your Mission from God.

About the Author:

David Lantz is a self-published author, adjunct college professor and leadership consultant. Visit my online courses at and like my facebook page at and

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