A Loving EnvironmentSherri Miles - Women's Discipleship Leader | Real Life Ministries, Post Falls, ID
Jesus Built a Culture Around Him Primarily Driven by Love
I wonder what people’s first thought is when they read the words, “driven by love” above. I was curious and googled, “driven by love” and to no surprise, it was all about self. Self-love, self-satisfaction; one article even stated that if you live a life driven by love you can bear anything, and you will always be comfortable in your skin. There is a lot our culture today has to say about love and being driven by love but to create a loving environment for the sake of relational discipleship, there is only one resource you need – God’s Word! It’s Jesus’ method and model.
There is something about the word love that I believe to be true; that as Christians we are called to love one another. But when you read Matthew 22:37-40 it also says you must “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Let’s look at Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus replied, “’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. ‘ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” This scripture is something I have used in leadership coaching to help people, and myself learn to love like Jesus did. I have found that when we try to create loving, relational environments like Jesus modeled, many of us treat it like a task, or if you are in pastoral ministry as part of the job. Creating these environments must come from a place of truly loving others like Jesus did or they will just be cheap imitations of love.
A key factor many disciple-makers miss is the idea of loving others “as we love ourself.” And if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love your neighbor either. You will also struggle to create loving environments like Jesus did. A lot of us do “love” our neighbor like we love ourselves. Which is to say, not very much. If you’re full of insecurity, anger, bitterness, rejection, hurt, lust, greed, or envy this is what will come out of you. Matthew 12:34 tells us, “ the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Therefore, we ask our Father to sanctify us through and through, so that we can become more like him in every way and love others like He does. Do you love yourself?
Let’s break down the scripture a little, the first and greatest commandment, “’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. So the question is this:
- Where in your broken heart needs healing?
- Where in your wounded soul needs healing?
- Where in your tormented mind needs healing?
I would encourage you to find a quiet space, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you assess your heart, soul and mind and write out what he is revealing to you.
Another difficulty in creating a culture driven by love is when you are dealing with people God put in your life and they aren’t the ones you would have chosen. I’ll be brutally honest, there have been people God placed in my life that I was like, “yeah no thank you!” The problem is, I believe you cannot disciple someone, or even enter into Christ-centered conflict resolution until you have a love for the person the Lord put in your life or you are in conflict with.
There was someone who God placed on my team and in my life to coach and our chemistry was off; we were polar opposite people and annoyed each other. I had to pray and ask God to show me who she is in his eyes so that I could love her. Ughhhh, it was a painful process because I had to die to self and love like Jesus. This takes prayer, time, intentionality, the willingness to assess yourself, assess your heart and lots of patience. When you ask God to show you how much he loves someone and how to see them through his eyes when you don’t see or feel it, watch out and be ready to be transformed into a much better person! Oh and did I mention it’s painful? That’s because God is shaping you into His image with his thoughts and characteristics. I can tell you this, the JOY I get from her now is such a blessing. When she tells me the Holy Spirit told her to tell me something, I stand up and pay attention. She is a godly, prayerful woman who is one of my very good friends.
Jesus created a culture primarily driven by love and in order to understand how he did that we need to look at the characteristics of Jesus and be ever-growing in them. Being a disciple-maker and creating a loving environment hinges upon us remaining in Jesus. As we remain in Him and in His love, we become more like Him.
ASSESS: CHARACTERISTICS OF JESUS – Find a quiet spot and really think about who Jesus is and what he modeled to others. Below is a very short list of his characteristics. I am sure there are dozens but feel free to write down others you think of. Circle in red the one or two you will grow in this year, then circle 3 in blue that you are gifted at.
Characteristics of Jesus:
- Good listener
- Showed grace and forgiveness
Being a disciple maker hinges upon us remaining in Jesus. (John 15) As we remain in Him and in His love, we become more like Him. As you become more like Jesus in these areas, what is your hope for the changes you believe God wants to make, in these specific areas, in your culture?
I read an article the other day about increasing our capacity to love and at the end it summed it up with this:
Whatever It Takes, Lord
Jesus is serious about his commandment, perhaps more than we may think (John 13:34). He did not command us to love one another relatively well. He commanded us to love one another divinely well — to love as he loved.
Are You Willing to Pray this Prayer?
Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my capacity to love until I love you with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love my neighbor as I love myself. Amen
Women’s Discipleship Leader
Real Life Ministries
Post Falls, ID
RDN Team Member
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