My elders at the Lawson Rd Church of Christ have agreed to make the congregational theme for 2011 a play on the initials for our name, Lawson Road (LR). The first word was a no-brainer: LOVE.
I suspect this word often becomes a cliche around churches. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how central the theme of love is to our faith.
- The Greatest Command – Love God with your whole being. (Deut. 6:5; Matt 22:37)
- The Royal Law – Love your neighbour as yourself. (Lev. 19:18; Jam. 2:8; Matt. 22:39)
- A New Command – Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (Jn 13:34)
- Love Your Enemies – (Matt. 5:43)
- The Golden Rule – Do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matt. 7:12) (I know, it doesn’t say “love”)
- It Identifies Disciples – By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. (Jn 13:35)
- John 3:16 – Love for the world motivates God. (Perhaps the only verse better known for its reference than for what it says.)
- The Greatest of These… – 1 Corinthians 13
I’ve also been doing some reading on how churches can be more welcoming to guests, and one of the recurring messages in the literature is that “Every church thinks they’re friendly.” So every church wants to practice love. But not every church is known as loving. We need to consider the question, “Who do we love?”
Most people who stay at a church for any length of time come to regard it as a loving church, whether that was their first impression or not. How long would you continue to attend an “un-loving” church? Most churches do a good job of loving their members, but just as important is the question of how well we love those outside the church. Yet it’s not possible to say that internal or external love is more important than the other. Rather, the church just needs to be characterised by love regardless of who crosses its path.
- Can you add a “key verse” or two to my list of love passages?
- What type of behaviour have you experienced that would prompt you to describe a church as loving. (let’s keep it positive.)
- Do you think it’s more important for the church to love those inside or outside the church?
- Given the centrality of the Bible’s teaching on love, “Why don’t more churches have a reputation in the community for being loving?”