The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
by Ev Worthington
How do Christians flourish? Here is one answer, from Psalm 1:
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
What is this law that we are to delight in and to meditate on day and night, drawing nourishment from it as from a stream of water?
I think the answer is given in Matthew 22:35–40. An expert in the Mosaic Law tested Jesus with this question: “‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
We therefore believe that a Christian’s actions should be motivated by unselfish, sacrificial love—the love of God for our fellow man. We are to strive for this, and appeal to God for the grace to give it to us, though we don’t deserve it. Ideally, we hope to allow that law of love to govern every aspect of our life and interactions with others. God’s law of love is the ultimate fulfillment of Biblical law, including the Ten Commandments. “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). It is by Jesus Christ’s salvation and his law of love that Christians receive freedom from slavish adherence to rigorously observing them. Alas, we are held to a higher law—Christ’s law of love, which should guide all of our interactions with the Lord God and with others.
If you're not already familiar with The Bible Project, get familiar with The Bible Project! They're doing some wonderful, creative, visual storytelling and teaching around books of the Bible, themes within the Bible's story, and sometimes, word studies, like this one on ahavah, one of the Hebrew words for love in the Old Testament.
Love is at the heart of the Christian faith. "God is love," John tells us. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied, "It's love!" No, he didn't say it like that, but he summarized the essence of God's law as loving God with all of who we are and loving our neighbors as ourselves. As the author David Benner says, we are "created from love and for love." What's love got to do with it? Quite a lot, it turns out. Love is a big deal.
And it's always been a big deal for us at Christ Pres. Many years ago, long before I was part of the picture, Christ Pres described itself as a "fellowship of love." That emphasis continues as we seek to be a community that knows, shows, and grows the love of Christ. Hopefully you've experienced God's love and the love of other Christians as you've worshipped together, shared potlucks together, participated in community groups together, gone on mission trips together, served around the city together, or attended one of our harvest parties (that's coming up on October 20, by the way). We want our life together to be shaped by love. And in so many ways it is!
And in so many ways, we have room to grow in love. In fact, the Christian life just is a life of growing in love. It's not the kind of growth that's meant to stop. We want Christ Pres to be a little school of love, as we recognize in new ways the depths of God's love for us in Christ, and as we help each other grow into the loving likeness of Jesus.
That's why, beginning on September 30, and running until November 18, we are going to be diving deep into the theme of Christian love. For those seven weeks, we'll try to connect everything we do together as a congregation to this theme. The sermons we preach, the songs we sing, our community groups, our children's and youth ministry, will all be exploring love--God's love for us, and the love we're invited to share with others.
Keep an eye on The Love Blog as we move through the fall. We'll keep it updated with content and resources that might aid in our growth in Christian love (and if you have ideas for things to include on it, please let me know!). I'm looking forward to seeing how the Lord uses this season to shape us.
Thankful for you all, and with you in Jesus,