Dwight Fletcher | How ‘Wi Love Strong’
Welcome to the beginning of a New Year and a new series of articles. At Transformed Life Church, we're excited about 2017 because it's our 5th Anniversary and yesterday we launched our debut album titled "Wi Love Strong", produced by our team of singers and musicians called 'Lifesong'.
The term 'Wi Love Strong' is simply a colloquial Jamaican expression of the purpose of the church. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus began his ministry with under a hundred followers. Today, over one third of the earth's population claim Jesus as the centrepiece of their religious experience. This explosive growth was not motivated by fear or force. Despite the perils of membership throughout different periods of world history, this body of believers have been motivated by one thing - love.
A love that is strong for the Lord, strong for each other and strong for the world. And in this series of articles, we are going to unpack what that means.
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus placed loving God and loving our fellow man into one commandment. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' ... 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31 NIV. Love is the foundational principle in the Kingdom of God and it is what the early Christians believed and acted on. They loved Jesus and Jesus' priorities became their priorities. Jesus told them to 'love strong' and they did.
The Lord wants this love to operate through His church today. Jesus said, "...I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18 NIV. He intended for the church to be a community that 'loves strong' and teaches our societies how to do so as well.
But what does that mean? What does it mean to love one another? Consider the following scenarios.
Imagine going to a fantastic restaurant, with delicious food, visually appealing ambience, attentive and friendly service. Then picture being at home with your family or close friends and playing a board game. You have great fun laughing at silly gestures, learning about each other's passions and bonding on an intimate level.
Both experiences are an expression of love. But the church was never meant to be like the restaurant, where I am given something just for showing up. It's meant to be based on relationships like my family games night, where I not only receive but give of myself. Being in a relationship with Jesus means being a part of the family of faith.
So why is Jesus calling us to live and love His way?
1. Jesus wants our first priority to be about our fellow believers. He knows that we can't truly love the world until we first love fellow believers.
2. Jesus knew that when believers love one another as God intends the world would sit up and take notice. This is what happened in the Book of Acts 2:42-46. As these believers loved God and loved each other the community around them saw and many were drawn to Christ.
So how do we do this? How can we accomplish what Jesus wants and what our nation needs? Well, the place to start is to look at how Jesus loved. Jesus said that His disciples should love each other like how He had loved them. Jesus therefore becomes our example.
To love like Jesus loved, we must:
1. Serve our fellow believers: Jesus gave His disciples a new standard of love. He did this by washing their feet (John 13:4-17). In doing so, He humbled Himself and served His disciples as a servant would. This means that we must consider each others interests above our own conveniences. This may look like serving on parking duty in your church because you know that they are short-handed or helping to organise an event.
2. Sacrificially love our fellow believers: As Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He also washed Judas' feet - the one who He knew was about to betray Him. The only way that we can do the same is to allow God to work through us. Jesus wants you and me to sacrificially love others to death if necessary. This may mean giving a ride to a co-worker who used to shout expletives at you before they became a Christian.
3. Submit to the command to love:
Jesus noted that, "... whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." 1 John 4:20 NIV. Often we have to submit our actions to God, despite what we feel. Emotion follows motion, so let the feeling of love come out of your acts of love. Act first and allow the feeling to follow.
In John 13:35, Jesus declares that when we love each other we will become a magnet to the world. He says, "By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." Jesus is giving the world the right to examine our credibility, so what is our defence?
Irrespective of how we measure up today, this series is designed to take you from where you are now and help you to 'love strong' to the glory of God. So over the next few weeks, pray about the areas in which your love needs to grow strong, as we learn more.