*By Dave Zuleger, lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church (south campus)
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”—Matthew 22:37–40
Below is part of a pastoral letter I wrote to our South Campus at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Sometimes, in this broken, messy world of sin and suffering navigating life can be overwhelming. However, Jesus has given us sweet, simple commands that cover all areas of life. We love because God first loved us in Christ. We want to be a people fully embracing that love of God in Christ to us and then embodying that love to the world. Read my letter below and consider building these rhythms into your life as gospel aspirations.
Love the Lord Your God
Read God’s Word every day to see Jesus so that you can see God and love him more.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me (John 5:39)
Find a weekly extended time of prayer (shoot for 30 minutes). It’s good to find time to pray as you read the Word every day, but we all need moments where we pour it all out before God. You can find this time on a car ride, at night, in the morning, or some other unique time.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8)
Find a weekly fast to refocus your heart on God. This could be actual food. It could be social media. It could be anything. The point is to remind yourself that Jesus is better than whatever it is you are giving up and look to him for satisfaction.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:17-18)
Would you consider building these three rhythms into your life to fan the flame of your affections for Jesus?
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
Seek to know and love your church with presence and intentionality. Be with us. Join a small group. Come Sundays. Come Wednesdays. Join a Bible study. Be among us. Listen to each other. Love each other. Pray for each other.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
Seek to get to know your neighbors. Seek to get to know your fellow parents on sports teams, music lessons, school activities, or dance classes. Seek to know your coworkers. How can you love those around you this year to show the love and mercy of Christ?
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)
Pray specifically every day for three unbelievers you know and seek opportunities to interact with them. If they are in your life, it’s for a reason, and certainly one of the reasons is that they might hear about Jesus through you.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Would you consider these three rhythms in your life to spread the flame of your affections for Jesus?