Question from a Site Viewer
Today’s church is not doing all that it can to follow Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor as yourself. Is this true or not? Can you explain please?
Thanks for the question. Jesus taught us many things. He taught about the Father, about Himself, and about the Holy Spirit. He taught us about His own purpose for coming to this world, to save us from our sins. He taught us that to accomplish this, He would die for us and that He would rise again on the third day after His death. He taught us that there is eternal life for everyone who trusts in Him. He also taught that there is an eternal hell for those who do not follow Him. He taught us about the church and about our need to be part of the church. He taught us how to live in harmony with God. He taught us that He will come again to take us to be with Him.
He also taught us that the first and great command is to love God with all that we have. He taught us that the second great command is to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love God with all that we have and love our neighbor as we ought, we will be right with God.
You ask whether the church is doing all it can to love its neighbor as itself. Let me ask you a couple of questions first. Are you part of the church? If so, are you doing all you can to love your neighbor as yourself? If you are part of the church and you are not doing all you can do to love your neighbor, then the church is not doing all it can do to love its neighbor. Stated another way, the church is made up of people. To the extent that people love their neighbors, then the church loves its neighbors. The church is not separate from the people.
And, “yes,” in response to your question, the church could be doing more to love its neighbors. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica commending them for the way they loved their neighbors, but then he encouraged them to love even more (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). The Apostle Peter commended his readers for their sincere love of the brethren, but then urged them to love one another fervently (1 Peter 1:22). Part of our spiritual journey is learning to love self less and love God and others more.
But we should not lose sight of the fact that the church has accomplished much in the way of loving our neighbors. Churches feed the homeless, assist the sick, visit prisoners, take care of the infirm, establish hospitals, homeless shelters, inner city schools, encourage those who are discouraged, tell people of the good news of Christ’s salvation, bring hope to people in poverty, assist in caring for the mentally ill, and many other matters. Churches are often the first to respond to disasters, bringing much needed aid both in the United States and around the world. Church organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy Corps, Northwest Medical Teams, Salvation Army, and many other groups risk their lives to carry out the command of loving one’s neighbor. In troubled areas you will find priests and pastors, caregivers and helpers, each seeking to carry out the love-your-neighbor command. While there are many people who go to church that may not be carrying out the love-your-neighbor command very well, there are others and have always been others in the church who have been acting on this command since the church’s earliest days.
Can we do more? The answer is always “yes.” But people who come to church are at different stages of their spiritual journey. Some are still very self-focused, seeing their needs and desires as being the big issue. Such people tend not to love their neighbors very much. There are other people who give of themselves day in and day out for the sake of God and for the sake of other people. These people are loving people.
So, to respond to your question as to whether the church can do more, the answer is “yes.” This is not a criticism, but rather a simple statement. As long as one person in the church can do more, then the church can do more. Thus, if I can do more to love my neighbor, then the church can do more, because I am part of the church. But I make an effort to love my neighbor.
I do not think that the church has failed on this command, although I agree that the church could do more.
Thanks for your question. I trust that your love for Jesus and your love for others will increase and abound.
a servant of Jesus,