As we approach our Annual Church Meeting on 7 May, it’s worthwhile thinking about what kind of community we want to be. You may know that St Andrew’s has five values. We want to be a community that loves Jesus, teaches the Bible, builds community, shares the gospel, and serves the city. Over the next five weeks, we’re going to reflect more deeply on each of these values.
We love Jesus because he is God who has come amongst us. We are commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). To love Jesus is most fitting, as through him, all things were created (Col 1:15-17).
We love Jesus because he first loved us and gave himself for us. On the night before he died, Jesus told his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love… Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:9, 13). Christians are to be identified above anything else by our love for Jesus and his love for us. Our love for Jesus ought to shape everything about our lives.
Our main problem in life is that we don’t love as we ought to. Augustine taught that all people seek happiness, and we look for things to make us happy. That attachment is experienced as love. However, our main problem is that because of our sin, we mistake what will make us truly happy. We either love the things that we shouldn’t love, or we fail to love what we should love, or we love less what we should actually love more. In other words, we have disordered loves. If a man loves his career more than his wife and children, his family relationships will break down. If he loves making money more than he loves justice, he will exploit his employees. What you love most will shape your life, your priorities, desires, and behaviour. Jesus is most glorified when you decide that loving him is what matters most in your life.
Communities are often formed by mutual loves, whether of sport, or music, or art. What binds the community of St Andrew’s together is our common love for Jesus. As a community of Jesus’ disciples, we encourage one another to love Jesus the most. We meet together to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). Left on our own, we find it more difficult to love Jesus. We need a community of Jesus-shaped people to remind ourselves of who he is and what he has done for us, so that we persevere and grow in loving him.
It’s our love for Jesus which fuels our other values. We teach the Bible to know him better. We build community to support one another in loving him more. We share the gospel so that his love is known by others. And we serve the city so that people might turn to him in love.