Love Thy Neighbor…but how?

The Scriptures are very clear on one thing. There are so many things that can be debated and argued about in the Bible, but one thing can’t be, and as far as I know, no one really does. That one things is what Jesus said in the Gospel records, Paul’s epistles, John’s and Peter’s letters, and more: “Love thy neighbor,” or John’s favorite phrase, “love one another.”

Loving people, whether they be Christians or not, is a most definite charge of ours as beloved children of the Most High God.

But it’s impossible, it seems. I mean, people are hard to love or even want to be around at times. Especially if you have a similar personality as me. I’m pretty introverted a lot of the time, though some tend to disagree. But just ask my best friend, he’ll tell you I’m quite the introvert. I tend to seclude from people and have as much alone time as possible. I draw away from people by nature. That’s just how I am though. It’s not all bad, but because I live in community-life and share my life with other believers in my church, that’s not always an ideal behavior.

At the risk of sounding repetitive (that is, repeating a similar message as many of my other posts), I’m going to tell something I recently experienced concerning this particular topic of loving thy neighbor. Maybe it’ll be a benefit and encouragement to you.

So, as some of you may know, Threshold 2011, the Organic Church Conference was held in Orlando, Fl this year where I was in attendance (this was my 2nd year at Threshold). At these conferences many people have many questions about Organic Church. Especially if you happen to be involved in one for any amount of time. Some have questions as to what it looks like, what problems we’ve had, how we see the Lord in it, how meetings are done, etc., etc. The list in endless.

This is a great time to share our Lord with hungry brothers and sisters. But for someone like me, an introvert at heart, this can be exhausting and tiring. Usually social environments can only last a couple of hours at best with me. I tend to get overwhelmed or irritable when I’m in a large group of people for any amount of time which causes me retreat to a secluded place for a while (usually my room, or in this case it would’ve been my hotel room).

But this year was different for one reason: I lived by Christ’s life.

The night before this 3 day conference with about 350 people in attendance, I was really wanting to be able to share the Lord with the hungry individuals that were going to be there (I knew from last year what this conference was going to involve). I also wanted to be able to love His saints above myself. I was wanting to grab hold of a larger understanding and passion for His people. I wanted it to be more real to me, more than just an ideal or an intellectual agreement. So I prayed.

I asked the Lord that during the conference that I could have HIS passion for HIS saints. That I wouldn’t try to muster up my own love and passion. That I wouldn’t be having to force myself to deny my flesh (usually an empty stomach and tired eyes), that I could live by HIS self-denial. That Michael would leave the picture all together and that Michael’s words would not be heard, only His.

He answered that prayer ten-fold. I was able to deny my empty stomach, my tired eyes, my social anxiety, my need for seclusion, and my need for rest. But I didn’t have to force or muster anything up. He did it all. I had a drive, a passion, a desire, and a love for His people like never before. And the funny thing was, it wasn’t my love at all! It was a love I had never experienced before. That’s because, it wasn’t my own.

Like I’ve stated in at least a dozen posts before, we don’t have to live the Christian life on our own. We all seem to know that God didn’t save us by our own works and abilities, but we seldom seem to know that He doesn’t call us to live by our own works, abilities, and righteousness. It seems we only have half the picture.

Live by the Life of Christ that is already in you, dear brother or sister.

Amen.

 

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10 thoughts on “Love Thy Neighbor…but how?

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  1. I thank you bro Michael for sharing with us! I, too, am very much the loner type and I know it can be overwhelming at times for us (being in a crowd for a long period of time). But I have experienced the very same thing of which you speak. It is Christ in us who loves, I don’t know how many times I have asked Father to let others see Christ, hear Christ, not me, not in my selfness. Some times for hours I speak with Father before gathering in a larger group where there are others whom I do not know yet. Most of my life I have been the quiet one. Every time I speak with Father for this revealing of Christ through me and in me, I come to know Christ more too. It is only through His eyes that we can see others as they truly are in Christ. I don’t know what I looked like o them, but their Beauty astounded my very core! I could see the beauty of Christ in them, and I was humbled, and amazed.

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  2. This is great! He recently spoke to me about this through Romans 13:8. We owe people love like a debt it says but the awesome part is “the one who has loved another fulfills the law”. Earlier in Romans we learn that only He fulfills the law in us, so it seems to me by putting 2 + 2 together, that we only can only fulfill this debt of loving one another through him that lives in us. Nothing else.

    Is it a coincidence that I got this from Him while you guys were at the conference? Who knows 🙂

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  3. amen brother, sounds like a wonderful conference, wished I could have been able to make it! Love your neighbor is exactly that, how often we miss out on loving our neighbors and miss seeing the fullness of Christ in our own neighborhood.

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  4. Amen brother! Christ is our all in all. Freely lean into Him and not only will He embrace you, but He will engulf those around you in ways you will not expect.

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  5. Michael,

    thanks for sharing. It was a joy to meet you this weekend. I can say with certainty that you shared Christ’s life with me. I’m a bit of an opposite to you. I’m more extroverted and so my greatest need this weekend was to shut my trap and take Christ in. He took care of that for me by giving me a revelation of Himself that left me speechless. The only thing that was left to say was to speak of the wonders He had wrought in my life. There is so much to give praise for.

    by the way I blogged a few observations about the conference over at Deconstructing Neverland. Just some surface level differences between this and another conference I attended earlier this year. Soon I’ll be sharing some of the things I “saw” on a spiritual level.

    – Bobby

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