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In Matthew 28, we see Jesus commissioning his disciples, and sending them out with a specific mission. He says in verses 19-20 (emphasis mine)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

As I am reading this, I can’t help but think ‘if we are going to teach someone to obey Jesus we should start with what he commanded.’

To go back in the Gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus being pressed by an antagonizing religious leader about what the greatest commandment is. Jesus responds (emphasis mine):

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 first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

We are all making disciples of something; the question is what are we making disciples of? In our everyday disciple-making lives, how much of our efforts revolve around this simple (yet complex) command to love God? Do we start our disciple making conversations with how much God loves us? Is it the first thing we talk about – or is it secondary to pointing out how broken and sinful someone is?

What is central to all of our lives (believers or not yet believers) is that there not only is a God but that THE God loves us! And this is love: Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that takes the place of our sins.

God – Loves – Us. The very thought should take our breath away!

In the midst of our sin, in the midst of our brokenness, in the midst of our gluttony, in the midst of our sleeping with someone that is not our spouse, in the midst of our drunkenness, in the midst of our gossip, in the midst of our envy, in the midst of our lying, in the midst of our hate, in the midst of our pride, in the midst of hate-filled words, in the midst of all out rejection of God – Jesus came and died for us. When we wanted nothing to do with Him – He wanted everything to do with us!

Because of his great love, when we were spiritually dead, Christ brought life.

In love, God chose us and brought us back in to his family. He adopted us. He gave us an inheritance that is great. 

To put it short, the gospel, the good news, is that “he loved us.”

Our only response to his love for us is to love him. When we sin, I believe, it is because we are not believing the Gospel. But what should it look like if we do truly believe that He loves us? At the risk of sounding stupidly simple, I believe the answer is to ‘love God.” 

When we believe the Gospel (he loves us) we will love Him. On the heels of the greatest commandment to love God is the second that “is like it” in that we love our neighbor. When we love God we want to live in unity with Him. To live in unity with him is to do as he does, and for the sake of our conversation, we love the way he has loved us.

What better model of loving people is there than Jesus? Everything Jesus did came from the Father, anything good that Jesus did came from the Father. Jesus sought to do one thing, his Father’s will. Therefore, he never did anything out of his own will or might but because it was what the Father willed him to do. It was love for God that led Jesus to pray “Not my will but yours be done.”

As disciples we walk in the ways of Jesus. If we are to model Jesus in everything, shouldn’t everything we do be motivated by love for God primarily and love for people secondarily?

We (the church) spend so much time talking about the things we should do. But if the things we are doing are only motivated by what makes us feel good or appears to be “right” to us then we are only living according to our own desires – and isn’t that the same as sin? To live out of the motivation that God loves us and he wants us to be vehicles displaying his goodness. When we love our neighbors it is because he first loved us and we love him.

To love our neighbors is to love the same way we were loved. No strings attached. When it makes no sense. When it’s the hardest thing you can/ever do. When it leads other people to say ‘that doesn’t make sense.’ Why? Because that was when and how God the Father loved us.

So, in the midst of your neighbors sin, in the midst your neighbors brokenness, in the midst of their gluttony, in the midst of their sleeping with someone that is not their spouse, in the midst of their drunkenness, in the midst of their gossip, in the midst of their envy, in the midst of their lying, in the midst of their hate, in the midst of their pride, in the midst of hate filled words, in the midst of their all out rejection of God – we love them because that was the same state we realized God loved us and came for us.

What we do ALWAYS comes what God has first done for us and to us. To love your neighbor is to first know God loves us and us loving him. So church, before you go out trying to do good first remember the source and motivation.

“Let the gospel (he loves us) be the motive (love God) for all that we do (love others).” – Abe Meysenburg


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