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Ben Willey: Welcome back everyone to the fellowship podcast, we’re doing an eight part series about the seven DNA, the core values of fellowship. I’m with the authors of those DNA statements. Pastor mark, pastor Mike and myself, pastor Ben wrote these statements a number of years ago and just revisiting them in podcast format. Today finds us at our DNA statement number five with the word, love. It reads like this: we love people where they are and hope to lead them where God wants them to be. And I’m hearing the first Corinthians 12 is it’s talking about the beauty of the diversity of the body then goes on to speak of all the different gifts that are given to the body.

And Paul and conclusion in first Corinthians 12 talks about the great gifts that are given, but then he says this, “and yet I will show you the most excellent way”. This introduces first Corinthians 13, where he highlights love as the preeminent christian virtue. Going to go to you, pastor mark first. What is so different about love and why is it elevated above every other Christian virtue?

Mark Willey: I think it’s elevated because God elevated it. In Matthew chapter 22, he commands, Jesus commanding people to follow God’s commands. And he says there are basically two that summarize the whole law. And I know the greatest commandments to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

So I think God himself is the one that elevated it. But I think the reason he elevates it for humans is because it is the ultimate expression of the Godhead. And I think that Jesus, in his relationship to the Father, Clearly expresses that through in the new Testament, as a relationship of love. Jesus in his relationship with his neighbors, with people elevates it as the highest calling.

And I think that’s what Jesus means where the only time Jesus ever talks about his own heart in the new Testament is he makes a statement, “I am gentle and lowly of heart”. And I think those two words express the picture to me of what love looks like towards other people personified in the life of Christ. The word gentle is the opposite of anger.

It means you are not holding rights. You’re not fighting for turf. You’re not offended. Your nose out of joint. Your buttons getting pressed. Jesus is gentle in the way he loves people. He’s lowly, the status of the most humble and the most lowly in culture was the word that he uses there. And I think what Jesus is saying when he describes his own heart is I am safe.

I am approachable. He he’s not on the line, his buttons aren’t waiting to get pushed where his own, where he feels offense, he’s free to serve, to give, to be kind, to focus on other, because he’s not on the line. He’s not embarrassed. He’s not personally set off because he’s made to look bad or is disrespected.

I think when we are called to love as a community, it means there is a safety from God’s children towards each other and towards others, that is not found anywhere else where God is not manifested. That God’s children are not triggered. They’re not angry. They’re not defensive. They’re not offended.

They’re not needing to be right, but genuinely are looking out for other’s best. And that best is that others would know ultimately God’s love for them. So for me, when it talks about, when you ask the question, why is love elevated? I think because it’s the very character of God in his relationship within the Godhead and in Jesus’ relationship to us.

So in a faulty way, we’re called to live out the love of Christ to each other and to our community.

Ben Willey: Hmm. I love that. And I love that image of our Christ and the image of the local church as physically living that out to one another. What a beautiful gift. Thank you for that, Mike. This is our wordiest statement.

I’m gonna read it one more time. We love people where they are and hope to lead them where God wants them to be. When we were writing DNA statements, we tried to have less words than more words, because we thought the more words, the less people remember, but this one we couldn’t condense any further down.

We wanted to get both of the, the thoughts that are in that statement to be clear. Explain to us the parts of this and why love can’t function without the whole of this statement.

Mike Candy: Well break it in half the love people, where they are. I think it’s the gospel. The idea that we would come as we are not as some, a better version of ourselves or an acceptable version to God. We know Romans five eight, God demonstrates his own love while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

There’s his invitation in the midst of us being a, what seems like unlovable, he pours out and shows his grace and love to us. I think it’s the same way we enter into other’s lives. We just expect that God will guide us to love people. We don’t make faith in Jesus or conformity in morality or obedience to Jesus, a pre-qualification for loving people.

I think even I don’t make my expectations of what a person should be a pre-qualification for loving them. We just genuinely show love. And that love does not shy away from truth. I think the reality of speaking truth in love is, is an incredible of incredible importance as a follower of Jesus. I think the truth of that is the gospel.

It’s we speak that truth in love especially when possibly their life doesn’t look anything like Jesus. The truth that we need in love is to point to Christ. Second part: we love them where they are and hope to lead them to where God wants them to be. I think it assumes that God does have this trajectory that he wants us to become like Christ in our development as followers of him. I think once a person has received the gospel, we continue pointing them toward Jesus and all that we do. In our conduct, our character, we just keep speaking truth in love. We know the first part of it come as you are, but I think the gospel frees us to be able to say it doesn’t want us to just stay there.

We come, as we are. And we, we move to where God wants us to be. There’s a new boss in town. It’s not me. It’s the spirit of God in me. And so this whole sanctification process becoming like Jesus, all the doors are open to my heart. And so we don’t just stay put, we trust that God’s going to lead in and direct our hearts where we should be.

Ben Willey: I know, thank you, Mike. I know that I sometimes can feel, I don’t know, bothered are frustrated when I see people advertising as, oh, we will love you, or we’re going to love you well. And as we’re doing this statement, is this statements we’re saying as a part of our DNA, I think we have to be asking the honest question.

Are we good at this? Because I think that for this to be a part of our DNA we have to say that we are, these are aspirational as well as descriptive. But we’re hoping to be good at love, believing it is of such importance to our master. But the three of us have each been around fellowship a long time, and there has been times where here at our church with this DNA that we have loved well.

And times when we have not loved well. Times where we felt loved well and times where we haven’t felt loved well, being with people is this mess. But I guess as we’re looking at this, I wanted to ask the question and if you’re listening to this and you’re newer to the fellowship community, it’s a question that I would want to be honestly discussed.

Is your church good at loving people? Or even beyond that, how have you become intentionally better at living out this type of love?

Mike Candy: We’re all looking at each other. Like who’s going to go first, but I think we’re staring at you, mark.

Ben Willey: You inhaled

Mark Willey: the big mistake. I, I only love well, when I am being loved well. When I’m allowing the Lord to love me, when I am finding my joy and who he says I am to him I’m free to love. But when I am on the line, when I’m trying to measure up, be a greater than, feeling inadequate so I got to work harder. I’m I’m not a good lover. I’m self-absorbed. So I think the more we are filled with the reality of God’s love for us as a people, the more we can love. When we know how safe he is, we become safer ourselves. So sometimes we all do that. Well, maybe, and a lot of times we do it very poorly, but I think it’s really tied into how much we’re letting the Lord love us.

Ben Willey: And I hope this is, that we all can feel that add throughout these DNA and understand how that they build on one another. Because here we’re talking just about love, but we believe we love because we have been loved that our loved is a borrowed love is one that has been given to us and why our first DNA statement is not, Hey, we need to love people well.

Our first DNA statement is Jesus is central to everything he does and his word. And then we talk about the spirit of God. And then we talk about all these other statements. That’s building to the place where there is enough love put in us that we can then live it out for other people. And we know if you’re listening to this and you’re a part of our church.

And if you haven’t been, felt loved or been loved that, well, like stay with us. This is part of our journey to seek, to love one another in a way that is honoring and reflective of our Christ only to the extent that we have received from him. Any other words, Mike?

Mike Candy: Yeah. I think kind of what you guys are saying too in this love.

It’s not that we, I don’t think love shies away from hard conversations or even sometimes conflict. It walks into that mess. And again, I think we’re saying we want to grow in love. How do we love in this situation? What does love look like in that situation? And I think when you start to line up, these are the things that are loving.

These are the things that are not, and just kind of stay in those boxes. Maybe we could make church or our church or Christian life about some rules to follow that we’re, we don’t do these things, but we do do these things. Or we, you know, swing the other way and it just becomes tolerant of everything, really not caring about truth at all. And again, I just don’t think that really is honest love. It seeks the, the, the good of the other person. And we do this because of, again, the borrowed love of Christ in us. We, we enter into those difficult spaces and I think that is loving to go there and give us a great chance to learn how to continue to grow in love.

Ben Willey: All right. Thanks for listening. We’ll hear you next time. Or you’ll hear us next time on a podcast. DNA statement, number six, have a good one.