Levi Skipper, pastor
Concord Baptist Church, Clermont
Authentic faith expresses itself in love. Love, however, goes beyond lip service. Love expresses itself in service.
Let me ask you a quick question: “How do you know Jesus loves you?” You might be quick and revert back to childhood by responding, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” True. But, ultimately you know that Jesus loves you because of what He has done. He didn’t just say it, He showed it.
Let’s think together about the different ways that Jesus displayed His love. He prayed for and with his disciples. He fed the hungry. He preached to masses and spoke with individuals. He healed the sick. He reached out to “sinners and tax-collectors.” He wasn’t afraid to spend time with those that the religious elite ostracized. He even spent time with non-Jewish people known as Gentiles!
He didn’t just talk about how He loved others; He showed His love.
Jesus spoke with His disciples in John 15 and said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That is a tall order given to us from Jesus. How are we to love like Jesus loved? Believe it or not, you can’t. You need the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to love like Jesus loves. The Bible teaches that God pours out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Roman 5:5) and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives is love (see Galatians 5:22). Jesus commands us to love like Him and then empowers us by the Holy Spirit to express that love to others.
You may be wondering, “What does that look like?” I have been in ministry for several years as a pastor and let me just say, there have been some people who were hard to love. Don’t get me wrong, I was supposed to love them and I knew that. Some might even argue that I am paid to love them like Jesus.
I knew there was a problem, though, when I caught myself trying to avoid certain people. I know, I know. Pastors are not supposed to do that. God had to change my heart toward those who were hard to love. How did He do it?
He took me to Romans 5:5 and Galatians 5:22 and taught me a lesson. It was as if God was saying, “Levi, you can’t manufacture the kind of love that you need to express. You have to let me love them through you.”
I remember specifically praying, and still do pray, “Lord, you know I am about to be in the room with __________. I choose to die to myself and I ask you to control me. Holy Spirit, love ___________ through me.” I was amazed and remain amazed at how God answers that prayer in my life.
When you think through your life, the people you live with, those you work with, those who are different from you, and even those you come into contact with at random, who do you find it hard to love? What steps do you need to take so that you base every relationship in your life on the unconditional love of Christ?