Let Love Be Your Highest Goal
Here at BTC, God is laying a foundation for a new season, declaring over us “Let love be your highest goal!”
36 “Teacher, which is the great [protos] commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ – (Matt. 22:36-39 NKJV [comment added])
The Father is calling us to put the first things first (Matt. 6:3). He knows if we are committed to walking in whole hearted love with Him (1st comm.), then the overflow of that relationship will be love for others (2nd comm.). We cannot draw near to God in love and not begin to love what He loves. This is the nature and the way of love. In all we do, we must make love our highest goal.
Seeing the Big Picture: Connecting Our Heart to the Father’s Dream
There is a common chord, like a plumb line, that runs through the heart of the scriptures. A continuity that links every passage we read. A dream was birthed in the garden in Genesis 1 that was broken by the fall of man. With singular focus, the Father will never relent until He regains that which He lost:
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring [family]. — (Malachi 2:15 NIV [comment added])
The prophet Malachi, through his stunning question, exposes the greatest dream of the Fathers heart: He longs for a family to share His affections. Because we are made in His image (Gen. 1:27) with the same capacity and need for love, our spirits bear witness and reciprocate this dream. God longs to be a Father (Rom. 8:15).
Connecting to and understanding the Father’s dream helps us make sense of what He is doing in our lives, in our local church and in the nations. It is the perspective we need to move past our selfishness to see the deep value of those around us who He longs to add to and strengthen in His family. The “strangers” all around us become His beloved ones. The problems our neighbor is dealing with become our problems. The church down the street becomes a vital part of the story the Father is writing in our city. The missionary over seas becomes an invaluable partner that we love to support.
When we prioritize love, relationship and family, all other things will find there right place. Honor and unity release the very presence and glory of Jesus in our midst. We can go further in God together than alone. The world will never envy our buildings or programs. They are searching for the same thing we are: a place to belong. So, when the world sees the Father exalted in love in the lives of His family, the world will be drawn to Him.
Unity In The Midst Of Diversity
The Father’s dream is a house (family/church) made up of living stones purchased by His Son (chief cornerstone) from every nation, tribe and tongue (Rev. 5:9). This dream is glorious in it’s implications. Somehow, the Holy Spirit’s intercession will take all the social and racial tensions that exist between every people group and reconcile us into one new man, filled with the fullness of Christ Himself (and characterized by joy!)! Paul refers to it as the fellowship of the mystery (Eph. 3:8-9).
It is the mystery of the fellowship of the nations (the church), that Paul discusses in Ephesians 3. Paul understood this was the Father’s dream. He was called to preach this message, the fullness of God dwelling in the midst of a diverse people group. He makes it clear, we will not receive the fullness of God until we all come to the same understanding he did. He labored in prayer for this reality.
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — (Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV)
A Rich Environment to Express Love
The family of God is the prime environment, designed by the Father, for us to grow in love because there is so much opportunity for offense and misunderstanding. Diverse personalities, racial tensions and cultural dynamics make it impossible to agree with one another without the grace and love of the Father working on the inside of us. Daily we must choose to embrace the cross of Christ, laying down our own rights as He did, so that we can embrace each other in love.
Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? — (Amos 3:3 NLT)
We need a revelation of the glory and honor of the calling to be the family of God. In living together, family sees us in the good and the bad. We were never meant to hide from one another in our shame as Adam did in the garden when He hid from God. When we are honest with one another in our weakness we can truly embrace each other in sympathetic love.
The Benefits of Family
…God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” — (Genesis 2:18 ESV)
We are designed, like the Godhead, to live in fellowship with one another. There are significant benefits to joining the family of God:
1. Family gives us identity and purpose.
2. Family fulfills our need to give and receive love.
3. Family provides safety, encouragement and healing. It’s a safe environment to grow in our gifts.
4. Family provides governmental covering and accountability.
Our world is full of lonely and estranged people. What if they saw a church that was known for love and all its benefits? What if they saw a family that was willing to leverage all they have for the One/ones they love?
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. — (1 John 3:16 ESV)
The Father Loves Diversity
There are 88 keys on a piano. All have a unique note, a sound that no other key can make. Alone, those keys cannot make a melody. Together, their individual sounds can combine to form an infinite number of melodies. Humanity has been created by the Father with the same one-of-a-kind fingerprint. All of our distinctions make us unique and like the piano, we were not designed to be alone. We were made for Him and for each other, made to release a beautiful sound/expression in the earth called the church.
Though it is the Father’s dream to see His body dwelling in unity, it is a wrong assumption to believe God wants to do away with ethnic distinctions (Is. 56:7, Rev. 5:9). The fact is, God loves diversity. He created it. For us this means that where our differences & distinctives glorify God, we celebrate them. But, where our differences hinder love and the gospel, we nail them to the cross.
Jesus is not color blind. He is not trying to make all of humanity a “middle C.”
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both [Jew & Gentile] one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 …that he might create in himself one new man [one family] in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. — (Ephesians 2:14-16 ESV [comments added])
When a man and woman are married they become “one flesh” (Mark 10:8). However, they do not cease to be male or female. Why? Because our distinctives represent aspects of our creator.
When John was taken into heaven and shown the throne room at the end of this age (Rev. 7:9-10) he saw a diverse people group from every nation, tribe and tongue worshiping the Father. This means John recognized they were all different. Maybe he saw skin color, heard accents, different languages, etc.. Our distinctives will never disappear. Instead they are celebrated as beautiful in the presence of the Fathers family.
How much more should we embrace each other in love now, in our distinctives, just as the God head does? There is a blessing (fullness) that is released when men embrace each other this way (Ps 133).
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!… For there the LORD commanded the blessing— life forevermore. — (Psalm 133:1, 3b NKJV)
This revelation is like a plumb line that causes us to see the value of what the Father is doing in other streams of His body by providing continuity (This breaks down a spirit of competition or elitism). Though there are many expressions of the Father’s heart in the earth, there is but one dream, one goal. We win and lose as one.
Healing the Nations: Breaking Down the Dividing Wall of Hostility
In Matthew 24:7, Jesus tells us that racial tension will escalate at the end of this age saying “nation will rise against nation.” (Nation being a Greek word ethnos, meaning race). God’s answer to this tension is the building of the house of first love, a diverse house known as the family of God. It will be the source to heal the estranged family of God into an international family of affection (So that all men might seek Him —Acts 15:17).
Ethnic division (racism) keeps the true purpose of God from happening. Until the wall of hostility is torn down between the races, the Father cannot receive His inheritance: a multi-ethnic family (one new man).
21 in whom [Jesus] the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple [church] in the Lord 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. — (Eph. 2:21-22 NKJV)
Christ alone, the Prince of Peace, can bring peace to the nations. No amount of human ideology or sentiment can bring us together. The enemy will create a counterfeit peace at the end of the age based on these human ideals and sentiments. However, there is no peace outside of Christ. In the cross, He broke the racial divide and reconciled the whole family of God. There is no other way.
The Family: A Sign and A Wonder
As the Father begins to give the church the revelation of His heart concerning the family, we will begin to see the expression of Christianity in the earth change. More and more, the church will look like the church of Acts 2. Authentic communities will begin to walk out whole-hearted love according to the 1st & 2nd commandments.
This will be a sign and wonder to the earth in the context of what Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 24:7. While racial tensions and war escalate in the earth, the church will stand in stark contrast, seeking to walk out the fullness of the second commandment. It will be a burning and shining lamp, giving strong witness to the Father’s heart (the desire for men to dwell together in racial unity on His terms).
He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” — (Luke 1:17 NKJV)