All Christians want to bless the church, witness to the world, and grow in assurance of faith. But did you know that there’s one thing you can do that accomplishes all three of these aims at once?
Love other Christians.
Yes, loving other Christians produces the triple benefit of encouraging believers, evangelizing unbelievers (Jn. 13:35), and assuring ourselves that we are believers (1 Jn. 3:14, 19).
But how do we do this? Yesterday I gave my congregation 10 Love Challenges that translate the sometimes nebulous idea of love into very practical, do-able actions. In some ways each action might not seem very much; each challenge has only one fairly quick and easy action per month. However, when multiplied by 100 or 200 Christians, the cumulative effect on your whole congregation could be huge.
Love Challenge 1: Pray for one family
What better way to love someone than to pray for them? As well as praying generally for your church, pray for specific and special needs in your church family, and for one other family in particular. Use the church directory or membership list to select one family to pray for regularly in the next 30 days.
Love Challenge 2: Speak to one person
We all have our favorite people and our favorite places to sit and stand in church. Why not sit somewhere different, exit through a different door, or stand in a different place and risk meeting a different person! Just once a month, do something different that will make you speak to someone you don’t usually speak to.
Love Challenge 3: Encourage one person
You appreciate many people in your church family, but have you ever told them that? Have you ever highlighted one of their gifts or graces and told them how thankful to God you are for them? Again, not asking for a lot here, but just once a month, go out of your way to find one person and encourage them.
Love Challenge 4: Carry one burden
Speak to someone who is suffering in your church and ask them how they are. It may be someone who is ill, someone struggling with a wayward child, someone who’s struggling financially. As you listen to their story, express concern, and feel sympathy, a strange thing happens – the sufferer’s pain reduces slightly as you take some of it into your own mind, heart, and soul. Although you walk away heavier, they walk away lighter.
Love Challenge 5: Visit one person
Perhaps start with the seniors, the sick, and those with special needs, but select one person in your church to visit once in the next 30 days. If you can’t do it in person, you can “visit” by phone.
Love Challenge 6: Give one gift
Share your abundance with those who lack. There are people and families in your church who cannot afford to buy a book, go out for a meal, go on vacation, or even buy all the groceries. $10 gets them a book, $20 gets a couple a meal at Applebees, $50 gets them a day camping, $100 would make a huge difference to their family grocery budget. Give as the Lord as prospered you.
Love Challenge 7: Forgive one person
Is there someone you’ve fallen out with? A strained relationship? Whether you are the offender, they are, or you both are, make one attempt to reconcile with them. If you can’t make progress in reconciliation, at least speak to them, express interest in them, and show affection towards them.
Love Challenge 8: Welcome one person
Different people visit your church every month – vacationers, friends and family of church members, strangers, seekers, church-hoppers, etc. Don’t leave it to others to welcome them. Take the initiative, go out of your way to show that you’re glad they came, exchange contact details, etc.
Love Challenge 9: Share one meal
Once a month invite someone, a single, a couple, or a family to share a meal with you in your home. Don’t make it fancy or complicated (or you won’t do it again) but simple, informal, and do-able. The focus should be the fellowship not the food.
Love Challenge 10: Relegate one preference
There are some things in church life and the Christian life that are a matter of biblical principle. These things we cannot let go of, we cannot demote, we cannot dismiss. Other things are a matter of personal preference – clothing, hobbies, sports, education choices, etc. When we make our preference equivalent to principles we inevitably erect barriers between us and others, we put others down and puff ourselves up. Search your life for one preference that you’ve turned into a principle, relegate it, let it go, and watch your relationships improve.
If you want to take up The Love Challenge, why not download this checklist, share it at your church, and watch the impact not only on believers, but also on unbelievers, and upon your own heart too.