Foundations: True Love (of God and Neighbor)
Our Lord answered the question “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” like this, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ . . . And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:36-37, 39 emphasis added). Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees sums up the Law and the Prophets and gives all of his disciples their greatest calling: to love God and love your neighbor.
First, if we strive to love God in this way he will be our chief concern. He will be the lens through which we view and interact with the world. Loving God means forsaking all desires and plans that don’t conform to His will to pursue Him.
Second, if we love God then we will be compelled to love our neighbor and thus fulfill the Law (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 7:12; Rom. 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14). This begs the question, “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus teaches that all people are our neighbor (Luke 10:30-37). In fact, we are told to go beyond loving the rich (James 2:1-13) and those who love us (Matt. 5:43-48). We are to love all people without regard for their social or economic status, nationality, or whether they are a friend or foe. The gospel is the motivation for neighbor love. “God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Christ came and died for those who opposed God. Christ died for those who were once his enemy (Rom. 5:1-11). Being recipients of this love we are to show the same love to all.
So what does this look like for Redemption Hill? Individually and as a church we will strive to remember the gospel daily. We desire for God’s Spirit to perform his transforming work by molding us into the likeness of Christ. Loving God means knowing and obeying him, listening to and obeying him. We want to love God above all else. We also commit to live incommunity with one another. No, we aren’t living in communes segregating ourselves from the rest of Medford and Boston. By committing to live in community with one another we open our lives to one another for encouragement and accountability. We will push one another toward holiness by putting off the old self and putting on the new (Eph. 4:17-32). Another way we will display the love of Christ is to bear one another’s burdens and sacrificially love each other.
Redemption Hill Church seeks to love God and love our neighbor. We will fail if we don’t do both of these. We cannot do one without doing the other. We must devote ourselves to loving and following Christ without turning to the right or to the left. Likewise we must love our neighbor with the love of Christ. It is Christ who died for us, and it is Christ who died for our neighbor. In order to love our neighbor properly we must serve them like Christ and tell them how he died on a cross and rose again on the third day. Now that is true love!