Never Walk Alone: Intro and Prep to 40days of Love
Ranking from 1-5, where do you think you fall in the list of priorities of your spouse if you are married, or of your most valued relationship? Who wakes up in the morning and thinks about you, who goes to Bed and thinks or dreams about you? What or who do you dream about when you wake or lie to sleep?
We all have some critical relationships around us that make us what new are? Every one of us is defined by a relationship of some kind- A son of, a daughter of, a mother to, a wife to, a husband to, a brother to a sister to, a friend to, a neighbor to, a colleague, a mate to to e.t.c
Love is a common attitude and action that is important to all relationships. It has been said that true love is ‘tongue-tied’, silent and empty of convincing explanations. One man said, “Love cannot be taught regardless of the many publications on this topic . . . love can be felt, given, received, or taken; it can be developed or destroyed, but it can never be defined.”[i] It is still the most talked about and the most dreamed of experience of people belonging to all age groups, of all walks of life, of both sexes, regardless of all cultural differences and barriers throughout human history.” We all agree the essence of being human is the ability to give, receive and experience Love because We are made for Relationships. God wired us to relate, We are desperately relational. But the question lingers, with so much hurt and pain in our society, divorce and separation, violence, abuse, prejudice and many broken hearts and homes, a song writer asked, where is the Love? Too many Lonely people.
Too many social groups, too many friends on face book, too much connectedness yet too many lonely people. We live with many close to us, but it feels like they are strangers, One lady commented on a radio show that she is loneliest since she got married. Have we been deceived into shallow relationships that are stale, superficial and inconsequential? Conversations and appointments that need to be short and hurried, before we engage in any conversation we ask “What’s in it for me? When connections loose usefulness they need to be brought to an end. Go ahead and ask “How are you?”, but don’t expect an answer because there is no time or a full reply. Do you remember the last time you looked eye to eye, shared heart to heart, held hand by hand?
According to this worldly advice, we will continue to expect short term and interrupted relationships. We try to cover for our love deficit in busy work and school schedules, Constant travel and Social media resulting in broken and short-term commitments. Suck it up. Life –long relationships are not a priority. ‘Everyone for Himself God for us all’. Too many broken people who are walking alone.
Welcome to the Month of May. We begin our second Term this may running through to August under the term focus on Rooted in Community. In the first term we focused on being rooted in Truth. This was all about Loving the Lord through authentic and growing faith in His Truth. Jesus summarized the Bible by this important Relationship principle and command.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And Love your neighbor as you Love yourself.
Having focused on Loving God in the First term, We begin the second term as we learn to Love your neighbor as you love yourself command in this 40days of LOVE campaign. In the month of May we introduce this campaign through a series entitled “Never Walk Alone” as we prepare ourselves for the 40days of Love journey for the rest of the term.
Turn Now with me to our Main Text: Mark 12:28-34
As it was the practice, many groups or people came to Jesus asking very pertinent issues. Some of these questions were to try and set up Jesus into some form of debate. If it was not the Pharisees, it was the teachers of the law, or the Sadducees, each asking something they deeply valued. But Jesus always silenced them in His responses, because they were not what they expected.
At this instant, the Sadducees were just from another debate about marriage and the resurrection, when a teacher of the law/expert comes in and asks Jesus a question. Which is the greatest commandment- His question, may have arisen out of either a difficulty to practice all the ten commandments as he knew them or just additional knowledge or confirmation to see if Jesus had read the right textbooks. Jesus may have answered, by saying the order of the ten commandments speak for themselves but instead His answer profoundly summarizes not just the ten commandments, but our entire faith
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Stop and think about these words again
Did you hear that, our faith is all about Loving God and Loving others. It’s not about keeping rules and regulations, it’s not about religious activities, it’s about LOVE. Love for God and each other.
Listen further to this emphasis in 1st John 4:7-12, 16, 19
Listen the very essence of God is LOVE. In fact you could say this, Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is LOVE. The intimate fellowship of love that exists between God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is Love that is seen as One. ONE LOVE. To Love the Lord is to share in this One-ness with God that Has been possibly only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
As God has loved us with His All, He also calls us to Love him with our all. Our hearts, minds, souls, strengths. In other words unite your heart with His, Unite your mind with His, Unite your Emotions, will and intellect with His, through the His LIFE in us- Jesus Christ.
Loving God with our All and loving our neighbor as we love our selves. If the church is to be known for anything, that one thing is LOVE. In Loving God we Love who He Loves. More than anything, God Loves people. When God sees people He sees an image of himself, He sees a missing link of himself. He desires to invite you to His oneness.
That is why, you cannot love God, and not Love your neighbor. It is impossible. It seems to me, through this scriptures that your Love for God is not measured by the many religious activities you do but by Loving Others.
Why are we averse to LOVE?-
We do not understand LOVE– We have not given ourselves to seek it, learn it or understand it from the source who himself is LOVE. All we have are ideas and feelings that the world has taught us about Love.
An elderly couple- watched in amazement how their children talked as they had come to ask for their blessing in marriage. They turned to each other “ I hear them speak about this thing Love” what could that be? Then they strangely look at each other and ask “do we have love” because in their times marriages were arranged, marriages were a societal means to get by.
So the old lady asks “ I doubt saying much about your handsomeness, I don’t remember much of the thrill or my heart skipping at the thought of you, but I know how many years I have slept next to you while you snored, served you food, waited patiently on you to come around in your decisions and lived with you through annoying times, sick times and all times…could this be LOVE.
What is LOVE? Not that we loved but that He loved us and sent his son to die for us. Love is not just in feelings and emotions. Love is in Action, Action outside of yourself, Action that takes your energy and invests in another, Action that takes your LIFE and gives to another. Love is Action and Action is work. It is sacrificial, time consuming, heart investing all for another. Love confronts the curse of sin which is self centeredness to other centeredness. Love is what is done, when the love song is over.
We must continuously come to God in prayer and ask Him to teach s to LOVE as He loved. We cannot LOVE if we do not know him who is LOVE.
But we are also averse to Love because we have not appreciated the sanctity of Human LIFE. Lets go Back to the 10 commandments which was summarized in these greatest commandments. In Exodus 20
Love for your neighbor is built on the sanctity of the people.
Having Identified Himself as their God, God also declares that they are His People. His people not only meant that He is their God, but that every one of them belongs to God. No one had the right of ownership or Lordship over another. When God made man he alone reserves the right of ownership. This then is the sanctity and dignity of every Human being, made in his image, for his purpose and pleasure.
It means that if we look at another, we have no standard or right to treat any one as less of a human being than ourselves. Our coexistence is governed then by this sanctity- that only God reserves that right and measure, yet he has divinely chosen that all are equal before him and have met all his standards to be called human beings. To violate this sanctity, goes not just against another person, but against God as well.
Sanctity is to acknowledge the other as an equal person, it is inhuman not to take notice of another human being next to you, say Hi, and acknowledge not assume as though an insect or animal is next to you e.t.c
Let’s explore this sanctity- The next set of commandments draw from this sanctity, how then should we relate as Neighbors to each other.
The Sanctity of Lineage- It is no surprise that God begins with honoring our father and mother. No one chooses this for another but God. The smallest unit of a Nation is the family, if there is no honor for the family there is no honor for the nation. How then do we cultivate honor, acknowledging the lineages before us. When our parents are dishonored, we suffer shame and short unfulfilled lives. When we dishonor our parents things die pre-maturely. Men your marriage will die prematurely if you have not honored her parents. Young people we will not go far if we have left our homes and parents in dishonor. Love is found where there is honor
The Sanctity of Human LIFE- Though shall not Kill, You cannot get away with Murder because you have treaded on God’s territory. Only God has the right to take our lives. A nation of unquenched murder and bloodshed will not see God’s blessing. Revenge, Anger and Wars only feed into each other and the ultimate destruction of a Nation. Love is found where Human LIFE is valued.
The Sanctity of the Body– You must not commit adultery. Sexuality is the territory God defined that one individual can become one with another. He defined this context limited only in marriage. Sex is a divine engagement between Man and Woman Under the blessing of God in Marriage. Adultery and indeed all sexual engagements including homosexuality, trans-sexuality fall outside this commandment -violates this fidelity of three, God, husband and wife. A nation is destroyed when this sanctity is violated. The church then must be the example, not a hint of sin should be among you, for how will the nation judge us. Watch what happens to a nation, people, society or homes that are infested with Adultery- Dysfunctional and broken societies and ultimately the Nations. Love is found where there is faithfulness.
The Sanctity of Stewardship- It is God who ultimately gives people the right to own. God ordained that rightful ownership will be limited to reward from hard work, and good will from another man, all else amount to theft. Money you did not work for or receive as a blessing will not build you but destroy you. A nation, organization, family, society founded on theft suffers God’s wrath. The ailing cases of land grabbing and property loss is a vicious cycle that the church must break. As a Nation we are called to build and acquire all things in honesty. Love is found where there is integrity
The sanctity of Truth– You must not tell a lie against your neighbor. Only God is the Truth, everything else is relative. Only God who is all knowing has the right to determine what is true and what is not. To lie and especially lie about another is to enter this territory of calling or saying something about another that God has not said thus it is not the truth. We must then be careful that we do not call someone or something what God has not called him or it, that amounts to a lie. Speaking ill of others, calling other tribes names, insulting others, violates this Sanctity. A relationship built on lies will crumble. Lies at the ICC, IEBC and among our politicians have destroyed this nation. A home founded on lies will equally fall. Love is found where there is Truth
The Sanctity of Fulfillment- Only God truly fulfills. God has ordained what shall fulfill every man. When you covet another man’s or what is not yours you discount the fulfillment God has given you and discount the fulfillment God has given others. It is only God who defines what is His, mine, theirs, ours to fulfill us, to covet is a violation. That wife is his, not yours, that Husband is his not ours, He has ordained that it is my wife and my child and my house and my car that will fulfill me and give me pleasure in him, Not your child, your house, your wife, your car, your job e.t.c. We must be content with what God has given us. A nation that is not content in what God has given them to fulfill them will crumble, A family, organization, or society that keeps coveting, sucks itself in unending self destruction. Love is found where there is contentment.
We will be taking a different approach from our traditional service structure as we seek to get more authentic and intentional on this subject. We will feature live testimonies, interviews, practical exercises and heart to heart reflection discussions and prayer. In prayer, Join us and Open your Life to learn How to Love as Jesus Loved, see healing, reconciliation, reconstruction and enrichment of key relationships in our lives and be more sensitive to ‘Who is my neighbor’ as Jesus taught.
To begin with, I want to invite you to
- Pray: Join in the 21 days of prayer and fasting – As we focus on Relationships, we know that this is a difficult matter. We want to trust God to work and move in our relationships. Alongside that is we will also pray for our fundraiser and other matters of this community. Take some time as a Meal
- Sensitize ourselves to Real Love- As we go through this series, God will speak to us about some issues in our lives, calling for vulnerability, honesty and openness. We pray to (Unmasking the falsehood, facades, assumptions and wounds around Love. It will Cost you because Relationships are a high risk -high return Investment. Listen to God and respond- Do more, do less, do without.
- Enlist everyone into a Soul group- . The bible speaks of a story of a sick man, who had four friends who broke through the ceiling of a full room, to get him to Jesus. As we begin to practice this 4 letter word, We all need these 4 people who will carry us to Jesus when all our 4’s are weak. We are calling these Soul Groups.
This is an accountability commitment of 5 peers (Brothers and Sisters) Mentorship relationship to go through 40days of Love, basically meet, share and pray for each other. How are you? Not How is work, or school, but how are you in these things.
As a soul group, we will call you to be accountable to each other in practicing love. You will offer each other the gift of confidentiality, the gift of vulnerability, and the gift of prayer. I trust this is the place we can feel safe to share anything without being judged, but as scripture teaches..Confess your sins one to another. (Fill sheet and give it at the end of the service)
Next week we consider how we are wired for LOVE, We will look at our personality types and how we each appreciate Love. To do this, I will send you a simple test personality exercise to work on before Sunday.
But as we close, Lift those Names on your Card to God in prayer