Love God; love others. This is a common motto that one hears in the church. It is an appropriate motto, for it clearly summarizes what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40. When Jesus was asked, “’What is the greatest commandment?’ And He 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 great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Here at Evangel, we are seeking to facilitate everyone in the love of God and love of their neighbors. Love is developed as you get to know someone. In John 14:8-9 we read, “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Biblical teaching and worship are two of the main ways we come to know and love God. At Evangel we give a lot of space and time to teaching about God. This is done through the preaching of the Word, Sunday school, the women’s and men’s ministries, and the FLOCKS groups. It is our purpose to proclaim what the Bible says about who God is, who man is, and the nature of the world around us. Through investigating these topics, we come to love God because of who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. As we come to know God, we want to worship Him and interact with Him. Worship is a conversation between God’s children and God our Father. In worship we pray to Him and glorify or praise Him in song. This is why we studied the book Sing! by Keith and Kristyn Getty in FLOCKS this year. The study served to help us understand the holy privilege we have in singing to God. It also reminded us of the importance of participating in singing and the necessity of understanding and proclaiming the truths in the hymns we sing. To help the congregation participate in singing, we have four people leading the singing so that everyone can hear the four parts of the music. We do this to facilitate the congregation in singing to their Savior. Hopefully you see that what we do is not done without purpose.
The second commandment is to love our neighbor. This can be very threatening to us. We often feel very inadequate and insignificant when it comes to loving others. The Network Sunday school class was taught by elder Greg Harrod to help each of us in these areas. Network helped us to see that God has sovereignly and gracious gifted each one of us to minister in His name with His power. How much more significance can one have! Can a person be more adequate than to have God’s power enabling them? As we learn and develop our gifts through serving others, as an act of worship, we come to understand our relationship to God more fully. This creates a greater love for God. When we see the love of God being demonstrated to us through His gifting of others, we also grow in our love for God and others.
Later in this newsletter you will see an article by Kendi Fiscus sharing some of the normal, everyday ways people use their gifts for the good of the church and the glory of Christ. One avenue for using your gifts of service and decorating relate to the church building. As we mow and develop the landscaping around the church, we are demonstrating that we think the church building is a priority, because it is where we meet for worship and it represents us to the community. Adam and Eve first honored God by tending the garden. In much the same vein, as we beautify the church grounds, we honor God and make the facilities inviting to our neighbors to whom we have been reaching out. This is also the reason we have spent a lot of time on updating our website. In our culture today, in many ways our website is the new front door of the church. Each of these things is done to facilitate us toward being welcoming and loving toward our neighbor. We are actively working to establish the ethos of the church as a place that loves God and loves our neighbors.
Using our gifts in the church helps us to grow our confidence so that we can go out into the world and minister to our neighbors. Ministering to our neighbors is an act of obedience to God because we are loving Him and our neighbors as He commanded. That is why there is encouragement in the church for each of us to know our neighbors and to prioritize ministering to them in Jesus’ name. If we don’t know our neighbor’s names, how can we share our lives with them or the good news of the gospel with them? Getting to know and minister to your neighbors will be a continual theme in the church because it is necessary in order to be obedient to God.
What does it mean for you to be faithful in loving God and loving man? Do you need to spend more time in your private devotional life? Or does it mean making it to corporate worship more regularly and applying yourself more faithfully to the work of worshipping while there? How about your relationships with your neighbors? Have you considered that the mission field you have been placed in is right next door? You may need to begin by just learning your neighbor’s names. Loving God and loving our neighbors often starts with very small, simple steps. Will you take the first step?