Jesus said, "He that believes in me, as the scriptures had said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water" John 7:38
Understanding love is the key element of a successful marriage, a blooming society, and the sharing of the Gospel of Christ. Without the clear understanding of its meaning, anger, hate, hostility, un-forgiveness and resentment attach themselves like leeches or viruses to the fabric of our society. These viruses cause divorces, wars, contentions, divisions, and other ills that destroy lives and put society on a roller coaster ride. Building relationships, starting a community or spreading the gospel of Christ has one common factor, and that is the giving up of something. Love is the action of giving up something in order to gain or help someone else. This action of true love is a foundational principle that we should not loose sight of.A foundation is known as a support for a building, usually built below the ground, that distributes the weight of the building onto the ground. It is also the base on which a thing stands, is founded, or is supported. Foundations are designed to have an adequate load capacity with limited settlement and are designed by structural engineers.The primary design concerns are settlement and bearing capacity. It is necessary that a foundation is not loaded beyond its bearing capacity or the foundation will "fail". Everything that is connected to or built on a foundation is subject to its designer and the design mechanism.Jesus is the true foundation and He is the love of God manifested to us through His death on the cross for the sins of the world. Through Him we have hope, deliverance from negative habits, healing for all diseases, access to grace and mercy, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, and many more benefits. (Psalm 103:2-4, Matthew 1:21)John 3: 16“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who ever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”Love is the foundation of a good life. Jesus is the Son of God and He has embodied the love of God. This Love is still not fully understood today. In Matthew chapter 5, 6 and 7, Jesus shared His vision for us all. We call it “The Beatitudes” or “The Sermon on the Mount”. The question is, how much of it do we understand?Do we really understand why we celebrate Christmas and observe Easter? Do we love people automatically after we receive Christ into our lives? The condition of the world today shows overwhelming evidence of a lack of love that exists between people, even Christians. To love someone is to want the best for them. It is never to destroy, defame, or demoralize that person. To make it clear, a husband should do his best within his means to elevate his wife and so should his wife. True love is not about what a person should receive or deserve, but what a person should give. This love should be expressed in all circles including the church, family and friends.The bible states in 2 Timothy 3:2 that in the last days, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…” “And because iniquity will abound, the love of many will wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). Receiving Christ as you Savior is just the beginning. He then opens our eyes to recognize the symptoms, causes and cures for the lack of love. That is why He has commanded us to love every person.Jesus said in John 13: 34, 35;“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
And in John 15: 12-14 He stated;
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.
This means that love is sacrificial and calls for self denial. One of the rudiments of God’s love is that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. According to Jesus, if we love our neighbor, we will not steal from them, kill them, covet their belongings, lie to them or lie on them, be jealous of them, etc.Have you ever wondered what motivated an awesome, holy, and all-powerful God to forgive the world of its sins and prepare heaven to accommodate us all? It was love. God has within Himself the capacity to love us all despite of our rotten and rebellious attitudes. He also has the ability to destroy us all. We have all forgotten that God has created all in His image and likeness (Genesis 1: 26-28), thus giving us the capacity to love and be positively creative, or the ability to destroy. Unfortunately, we have chosen to destroy the world and each other.
In Mark 12: 28-34; Jesus explained to the Scribe, the conditions for entering the Kingdom of God. He told the Scribe that to love God and neighbor are the most important commandments that should be observed. Let us read the dialogue and determine what Christ is actually saying to the Scribe:
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is one, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, And to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.
In Matthew 22: 34-40
Jesus was engaged in another dialogue with a lawyer about the most important commandment. Let us examine His response:34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducee, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Love of itself has no boundaries, preconditions, or favorites. The love of God is far beyond all human intellectual capacity. It reaches from the highest heavens to the lowest hell. If we have God in us, we will possess His indiscriminating love. Jesus stated that if we love God and our neighbors unconditionally as we love ourselves, He will pray the Father to send us the Holy Spirit. If love was not the essential element for receiving the Holy Spirit, then there would have been no need for 1 Corinthians chapter 13. It is difficult after reading the teachings of Christ to understand how two churches of different racial composition or social standing could claim that they are filled with the Holy Ghost and still cannot have fellowship with each other, or even trust each other.
1 John 2:9- 11
9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
1 John 3: 14-19
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.
It has also been taught that there are three kinds of love; Agape, Eros and Phileo. I believe that by the end of this study, you will realize that there is only one kind of love, and that is a God-kind of love.
Eros is more of a sexual desire and not love. A person could be sexually aroused without falling in love.
As for Phileo, Jesus said in Matthew 12:50; “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother”.
Agape, which is known as unconditional love, expresses the God-kind of love which He has commanded as all to demonstrate towards everyone.It is clear to conclude that it required love for Him to come to earth from heaven to redeem us, and it will take the expression of our love for God and others to secure our return with Him to heaven. He emphasized that to love is not a free-will choice, but a commandment. This means that we will have to forgive people (Matthew 6: 14-15) and love them unconditionally. In other words, to love your neighbor as you love yourself means that whatever you desire for your self, you desire for neighbor and would do your best to make it happen for both of you. You will also have to love your enemies (Matthew 5: 38- 48). The Lord Jesus did not use the word ‘should’ (conditional) but shall, which means that we are commanded from ‘now on’ to love everyone, despite or differences.Any building that is being built, has to have a sturdy and secure foundation to support its weight at full capacity. It also has to be able to withstand rain, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes. Some builders include fire-retardant materials. In other words, when we become Christians, our new life has to be built on and around the Love of God (John 3:16-17), which is the true foundation of Christianity. Our love must be able to withstand the negative forces of life (1Corinthians 3; 11).
No wonder, Jesus said in Luke 14:28 –30;
"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
He was faced with this decision and knew that He had to suffer on the cross to redeem us. He had to complete His mission without wavering so that we could have everlasting life and not eternal damnation.
Cultural Awareness and Diversity: An Act of Love
Many businesses and organizations are introducing diversity training to their workforce because they have realized that it is important for their employees to understand how these dimensions affect performance, motivation, production, market response, success, and interactions with others. The expression of diversity includes acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Diversity encompasses, but is not limited to: age, ethnicity, culture, religion, ancestry, gender, physical limitations, race, educational background, work experience, geographic location, income, social status, marital status, religious beliefs, parental status and military experience. Institutional structures and practices that have presented barriers to some dimensions of diversity should be examined, challenged, and removed.The fact that Jesus sent us to the entire world, denotes a need for us exercise cultural awareness. We are all missionaries in our own way. God also made allowances for it, and so did Paul.It is time for churches to aggressively address this issue. Love is the foundation of the Gospel of Christ.
47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.
Exodus 23:9 - “Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 22:21 - “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Mark 16:15 - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
So he answered and said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
1 John 4:17-19
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
1 Corinthians 9:19-21
Serving All Men
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law.
1 Corinthians 10:27
If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
Luke 15: 1-7
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
We are here to show sinners and members of all other religions of this world that Jesus Christ is the only answer, and that we will demonstrate this truth by our love for all mankind. There is no other option.
River of Life Evangelistic Outreach