“Loving our Neighbors as Ourselves”, from award-winning Christian youth leader, Christopher Witmer (Love, Law, God’s Dance)


This article is written by award-winning 23-year-old Editor-in-Chief of TheRebelution.com, Christopher Witmer. He and another Christian teen created a blog that grew to become an international movement that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for missions and charity, won prestigious film festivals, earned Grammy Award nominations, fought human trafficking around the world, and was invited to speak at the White House on multiple occasions.

Why “Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself” is So Important to Christianity by Christopher Witmer

The dance is beautiful.

One glimpse of the rhythm and movement fills your heart with such wonder that you lose all sense of time and self.

Such power emanates from the dancers moving one around the other that it seems as if shots of electricity surge out of their fingertips wrapping the others in glory and delight.

It doesn’t take long before you find yourself swept into the magic of it all. One step, two steps, circling around.

There is no pretense, no withholding of joy and sheer love. Radiant, glorious, love completely concentrated outward until sparks and thunder burst like little combustion engines in mid-air.

It is the cosmic dance of the Trinity. The eternal rhythm and song set in motion by God himself–Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Like a magnet stronger than a trillion planets drawing the sons of earth into its everlasting dance–its relationship. They beckon to us teaching us the dance a step at a time.

One step–Do to others what you want them to do to you. Two step–Don’t break trust by lying. Three step–Don’t take what isn’t yours.”

And by this we learn how to live and be in relationship–we learn how to love.

Love is the rhythm of the dance. It’s what keeps it all together. Relationship is the dance itself. Without rhythm there is no dance, only confusion. Without love, there is no relationship, only chaos.

Love–the rhythm–defines the dance. It’s the law. Break it, and you fall out of step with God himself–and you hurt others in the process.

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF

Love is important. We know that. Jesus called “loving your neighbor as yourself” the second greatest commandment.

Over the next several days, I’m going to dig into what it really means to “love your neighbor” because if we miss this simple command, everything we do is completely meaningless.

First, though, I should start by simply explaining why I think love is so foundational to Christianity.

For example, if we can’t love, I believe we may as well shut down this entire website and throw away all of our copies of Do Hard Things (1 Corinthians 13).

Why do I believe so strongly that young people should love their neighbors? Why is loving your neighbor as yourself so important to Christianity?

BECAUSE THE WORLD REVOLVES ON LOVE

I like the picture of love being the rhythm in God’s divine dance (inspired by Timothy Keller’s chapter 14 in Reason for God).

Rhythm is so important to a dance that if you break from the rhythm, you cease to be a part of the dance.

It’s the same in relationships. If you break from love, your relationships will splinter and in the process, you’ll quit dancing with God.

If “love thy neighbor” is the rhythm to God’s dance, anyone who doesn’t love their neighbor isn’t dancing with God.

If “love thy neighbor” is the rhythm to God’s dance, anyone who doesn’t love their neighbor isn’t dancing with God.

Let me put it in clearer terms: If love is not a growing theme in your life, you don’t know God (1 John 4:8).

I’m not saying as a Christian, you will love perfectly. We all stumble in the dance because we’re human and imperfect. But if you’re aiming to learn the rhythm of the dance, it will become a theme. There will be stretches where you start to pick it up and your feet begin to move effortlessly in step with God.

LOVE FULFILLS GOD’S MORAL LAW

Earlier, I said love is the “law” of the dance because I wanted to foreshadow the idea that God’s moral law is really just a detailed explanation of what it means to “love your neighbor.”

Jesus said as much when he said the greatest commandments were to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. He concluded by saying “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul actually took it a step further and essentially made these commandments one and the same.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8-10; emphasis mine).

Of course, there are many other verses I could quote, but you get my point.

The Law of God, the rhythm of his dance, love–comes down to this simple idea: Do no wrong to your neighbor.

God’s moral law is just like the laws of physics which he set in place from the very foundation of the world. You can scream that you’re free from the law of gravity as loud as you want, but if you jump off a two-story building you’re still going to break something.

In the same way, you can scream that you’re free in Christ, but if you lie to your friend, you’re still going to break your leg relationally.

It’s a law established from the beginning of time. It’s how relationships work. Obey it or face-plant relationally (stumble in the dance).

What you can’t do is ignore it and expect to have healthy relationships. Rebellion and disobedience to God’s law is death to your relationships. This isn’t about salvation, but simple relational science.

Are you beginning to see why love is so important?

RELATIONSHIP CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT LOVE

The whole point for God creating the world and for Jesus dying on the Cross and for the church’s continued testimony was to expand God’s divine dance–his relationship.

And the rhythm of that dance is love. Therefore, without love, you have no dance–you have no relationship–and that was the whole point from the very beginning.

But here’s the thing. I’ve been stressing the importance of staying in the rhythm of God’s dance (loving your neighbor). Unfortunately, we can’t. We can’t stay in rhythm on our own strength. Yet, there is a way.

Let me put it to you another way.

WITHOUT LOVE, WE ARE NOTHING

If the Trinity were a set of magnets, love would be the everlasting, unbreakable magnetic power holding them together.

In this picture, we are like BB’s around these three strong magnets: having no magnetic power of our own but being magnetized and drawn into this divine relationship.

Without that everlasting, unbreakable, magnetic love, everything falls apart. Without it, churches splinter, families disintegrate, and communities devolve into endless cycles of pain and distrust.

Why? Because we have no power on our own to hold things together. Separate from God’s divine, magnetic love, nothing holds together.

(Just like a dance turns into chaos if no one follows the rhythm.)

But, as we experience God’s magnetic love, he invigorates us and we become magnetized and able to draw others in by the love flowing through us.

And thus, we can love our neighbors and fulfill the entire law of God.

IT’S SERIOUS BUSINESS

“Loving our neighbors” is serious business because it’s the basic physics of relationships. If we hope to develop healthy friendships or marriages, reconcile social injustices, unify churches, or “do hard things,” we absolutely need to take learning to love seriously.

In fact, if we don’t it’s as good as not doing anything at all, because anything good not done with love is totally worthless.

The world literally runs on love.

Source: The Rebulution

CHRISTOPHER WITMER

is the 22-year-old Editor-in-Chief for TheRebelution.com. Originally from Northern Minnesota, he lives with his family in Los Angeles where they moved to plant inner-city churches. He loves sports, travel, and music, but his passion is writing for God and lifting high the name of Jesus through his writing.

The photos, added by L.Willows- sharing the uplift of dance to this inspirational article.
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“We must walk with Love, in Love and for the sake of Love” scriptures on Love ~ The Beloved One; Prayer for Today

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Walking in Love is walking with The Holy Beloved.  We have been given a decree to love one another as we have been loved (John 15:12).  When we live and step forward for the sake of love it means that we make a promise to live with hearts that are devoted, forsaken – given up in surrender to the will of God with a gaze set above what mortal eyes see.

When our own hearts are “forsaken”, it means that we renounce and leave behind whatever we cling to that would separate us from the Love of God. We place whatever must “die to self” (Galations 2:20) with gladness and pray that sacrifice is granted. We cannot move forward while grasping to what is behind us.

When we do something for the “sake” of another means for the benefit of another or on the account of another. In the Bible, the words “for Jesus sake”, refer to the truth that all is done on the merit of Jesus, that we have none of our own.

In the same way, when we long to move forward in Love and walk in The Love of God we need to renew our Hearts. Yet we cannot “see our own hearts” by our own ability. This is one of our greatest obstacles to walking forward. We need the Power of The Holy Spirit that enables the wisdom of God to help us. We ask for revelation in prayer and seek redemption so that we can walk more closely with the Lord. David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23 (Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my concerns) is a perfect example of calling to God for the ability to know one’s, own heart.

It takes courage to encounter this kind of bold truth. Yet how can we live with anything less than truth? We pray for the strength and courage to rise above our dependency on false strength, the kind that pulls us back into a sense of power over circumstances and our own abilities rather than being true warriors of The Spirit, ones that serve God. (Romans 8:5, John 3:30, Deut. 6.5) This servitude is one that lives with hearts “forsaken” to the Truth.

because only The Truth will ever set us Free.

John 8:31-32
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Scripture on Loves’ Decree

John 17:21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Leviticus 19:18,34
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD…

Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:17
This is My command to you: Love one another.

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.

Romans 13:8
Be indebted to no one, except to one another in love, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.

Romans 13:10
Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Galatians 5:14
The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Ephesians 5:2
and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.

1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now about brotherly love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.

Hebrews 13:1
Continue in brotherly love.

1 Peter 1:22
Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart.

A Prayer for Today

Holy Father,
I run to you in worship today with awe.
My heart offers praise that lifts to all of the Heavens that You alone have made.
I cannot fathom the beauty of the worlds that your eyes can see.
or the vastness of life that your heart beholds.
I am small and here, Father and you can see me amidst all Creation.
Your Love is planted within my own heart and promised from the beginning of time.

You are my Redeemer, my Faithful One, my Healer, the Restorer of my Soul.
Your Love is more powerful than all of the tides of the oceans at sea.
It weathers all of the storms of life.
It is my rock and my fortress. You sustain me throughout every season.
I pray that you hold my heart with protection against the forces of this world.
Father that I am safe with you in every hour.

Give me a pure heart, Lord.
I pray that Your Spirit reveal to me the ways that I need to grow;
Show me the impurities of my heart in this hour,
Help me in my need to redeem, to repent,
To return with gladness and rejoicing to your lap.
Renew my faith and give me the perseverance to walk with courage.

I am praising you, Lord for all that will be because of your precious Goodness.
Your generous kindness flows from every corner and doorway that opens;
Life is giving and full because of You.
Lord, we stand only because of you.
We walk forward only with and for the sake of You.
Our hearts beat and breathe because you have given to us first.
I praise and breathe gratitude from all that I am
For the sake of Christ Jesus.
Let Love be. Let it move forward in me.

Amen

The Call to Love ~ 1 John 4:7-8, commentary from David Guzik

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The Call to Love ~ 1 John 4:7-8
by David Guzik

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Beloved, let us love: The ancient Greek sentence begins in a striking way- agapetoi agapomen, “those who are loved, let us love.” We are not commanded to love one another to earn or become worthy of God’s love. We love one another because we are loved by God, and have received that love, and live in light of it.

  1. Let us love one another, for love is of God: John’s emphasis on love among the people of God (shown in passages like 1 John 2:9-11 and 3:10-18) is powerful. Here, he shows why it is so important. If love is of God, then those who claim to be born of God, and claim to know God, must be able to love one another in the body of Christ.

Again, John insists that there is something that is given to the believer when they are born of God; a love is imparted to their life that they did not have before. Christians are not “just forgiven”- they are born anew by God’s Spirit.

  1. And knows God: There are several different words in the ancient Greek language translated “know” into English. This specific word for knows (ginosko) is the word for a knowledge by experience. John is saying when we really experience God it will show by our love for one another.

Of course, this love is not perfected in the life of a Christian on this side of eternity. Though it may not be perfected, it must be present – and it should be growing. You can’t truly grow in your experience of God without also growing love for one another. John can boldly say, He who does not love does not know God. If there isn’t real love for God’s people in your life, then your claim to know God and experience God isn’t true.

  1. Love is of God: The love John speaks of comes from the ancient Greek word agape; it is the concept of a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment- it is the God-kind of love.

Since this is God’s kind of love, it comes into our life through our relationship with Him. If we want to love one another more, we need to draw closer to God.

Every human relationship is like a triangle. The two people in the relationship are at the base of the triangle, and God is at the top. As the two people draw closer to the top of the triangle, closer to God, they will also draw closer to one another. Weak relationships are made strong when both people draw close to the Lord!

  1. Everyone who loves is born of God … He who does not love does not know God: This does not mean that every display of love in the world can only come from a Christian. Those who are not Christians still can display acts of love.

“It is because men are created in the image of God, an image that has been defaced but not destroyed by the Fall, that they still have the capacity to love … Human love, however noble and however highly motivated, falls short if it refuses to include the Father and Son as the supreme objects of its affection.” (Marshall)

  1. For God is love: This is a glorious truth. Love describes the character and heart of God. He is so rich in love and compassion, that it can be used to describe His very being.

When we say God is love, we are not saying everything about God. Love is an essential aspect of His character, and colors every aspect of His nature. But it does not eliminate His holiness, His righteousness, or His perfect justice. Instead, we know the holiness of God is loving, and the righteousness of God is loving, and the justice of God is loving. Everything God does, in one way or another, expresses His love.

“He hates nothing he has made. He cannot hate, because he is love. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust. He has made no human being for perdition, nor ever rendered it impossible, by any necessitating decree, for a fallen soul to find mercy. He has given the fullest proof of his love to the whole human race by the incarnation of his Son, who tasted death for every man. How can a decree of absolute, unconditional reprobation, of the greater part or any part of the human race, stand in the presence of such a text as this?” (Clarke)

“Never let it be thought that any sinner is beyond the reach of divine mercy so long as he is in the land of the living. I stand here to preach illimitable love, unbounded grace, to the vilest of the vile, to those who have nothing in them that can deserve consideration from God, men who ought to be swept into the bottomless pit at once if justice meted out to them their deserts.” (Spurgeon)

Great problems come when we try to say love is God. This is because love does not define everything in the character of God, and because when most people use the term love, they are not thinking of true love, the God-kind of love. Instead, they are thinking of a squishy, namby-pamby, have-a-nice-day kind of love that values being “nice” more than wanting what is really best for the other person.

The Bible also tells us that God is spirit (John 4:24), God is light (1 John 1:5), and that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

  1. God is love: There are few people who really know and really believe that God is love. For whatever reason, they won’t receive His love and let it transform their lives. It transforms our life to know the love of God in this way.

 “There is love in many places, like wandering beams of light; but as for the sun, it is in one part of the heavens, and we look at it, and we say, ‘Herein is light.’ … He did not look at the Church of God, and say of all the myriads who counted not their lives dear unto them, ‘Herein is love,’ for their love was only the reflected brightness of the great sun of love.” (Spurgeon)

© David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible; Study Guide for John 1

“For the Love of Christ”, scripture and devotions offered by The Beloved

Philippians38Beloved1

To gain Christ, in the words of the apostle Paul, is the singular treasure and the most precious gain and honor of a life. He compares anything else to “rubbish”. (all meaninglessness and reduced to nothing) His Love in this passage is like the vow and a declaration of one that has suffered and knows what he speaks of.  He opens the sky and the earth with these words, both in a reconcile to his knowing sacrifice and choice. He has chosen to follow His Master, The Lord Jesus, Son of God. All else is nothing. He has witnessed The Light, The One that was with the Father since the beginning of Time.

To know Jesus in such a holy and sanctified way would mean a transformation of our hearts. We would walk with obedience, gratitude and a deep desire to draw near to Him. We would live “for the Love of Christ”.

Psalm 116:63
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.

1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Jeremiah 32:40
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

John 15:9-17
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.