Our Loving Well value has a third descriptor:
Loving well doesn’t stop within the church family. It has to start there, but it doesn’t stop there. It starts there because unless we learn to love one another well, the credibility of our witness is undermined. In fact, our love for one another is a key to people recognising who it is we follow:
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:35 NIV
Loving one another, apart from anything else, is essential to our mission. But it is not just about what people see us doing; it is about what they experience themselves when they come among us.
By loving well, we create a culture that is a colony of heaven on earth, and when people come into that culture they experience this love in tangible, practical ways. The love of God is made real for them. They are accepted and not judged, they get to be included and to belong even before they believe and behave. At the same time, they experience a hope of personal transformation and a rising faith that they don’t have to stay where they are but can change. This love not only accepts them without judgement but helps, encourages and challenges them to grow to become the people God made them to be. Most of all, it is a culture in which they so experience the love of God through us, that they listen when we tell them about him and they become reconciled to and captivated by the one who is love.
And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God.2 Cor.5:18-19 The Passion
What a privilege! We get the opportunity to create a heavenly culture of love in which we get to partner with God in shepherding the world and opening the door – the gates – to reconciliation with God.
If you are called as a missionary…you are called to love the broken until they understand God’s love—a love that never dies—through you.Heidi Baker
Jesus, thank you for loving us unconditionally and for not counting our sins against us. Help us to love like you do, and to create, with you, a culture in which people experience your love through us. Amen.