A Fervent Follower... Loves People
Jesus said that the 2nd greatest commandment is to "love your neighbour as yourself". Jesus joins this commandment with the first because a person cannot love God in isolation from his or her other relationships in life. We are to be known by our love (Jn.13:35) and genuine love is the defining mark of a follower of Jesus Christ (see 1 Jn.3:10-18; 4:7-12, 19-21). Love is to be our supreme value in life (1 Cor.13).Personal Profile: JESUS
When it comes to loving others people, Jesus is our model. Yes, he is the Son of God but let's remember that Jesus "grew in favour with God and people" (Lk.2:52). He developed an ability to love others in a way that they sensed his love and care. We too can do the same. Jesus was a friendly and outgoing person who enjoyed being with people from a wide spectrum of society. He was a true 'people person'.
Becoming a People Person
- Jesus accepted people just as they were.
Jesus didn't require people to change before he loved them. He loved people as they were and his love and acceptance usually became a powerful force resulting in many changed lives (see Lk.19:1-9 and Rom.5:5). He intentionally crossed racial, gender, socio-economic and age barriers. He rejected many of the prejudices of his day and loved all kinds of different people, especially focusing on the outcasts of society.
- Jesus always sought to help people in any way he could.
Jesus chose to adopt a giving stance toward the people he met, always seeking to meet their needs in some way. He saw himself as a servant whose priority was serving others not himself (Mk.10:45).
- Jesus spoke the truth to people.
Because Jesus loved people, he had the courage to tell people what they really needed to hear even if it hurt them initially. He didn't just commend people. He confronted them too (Mk.16:14).
- Jesus understood the frailty of human nature.
Jesus understood that not all people were 'safe' and that many people had agendas for his life. He continued to love them but was careful in who he committed himself to (Jn.2:23-25). Jesus adjusted his expectations to be aligned with the reality of sinful human nature. He realised that people would let him down and he was not thrown by it.
- Jesus never gave up on people.
People didn't always treat Jesus lovingly, even his closest friends. He experienced criticism, disappointment, betrayal and rejection. Yet, he chose to forgive and he never gave up on people (Lk.23:34. Jn.21:15-19).
A fervent follower is a loving person accepts people as they are, seeks to help others, speaks the truth in love, understands the frailty of human nature and doesn't give up on people.
The truth is that just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you're a nice people to be around. How do you become a fervent follower who really loves people? How do you become a 'people person'? Jesus gave us the perfect rule for establishing quality human relationships. We call it the Golden Rule. It says this: "Whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them" (Mt.7:12). We need to decide how we want to be treated, and then begin treating others in the same way. How do you want to be treated?
Getting along with Difficult People
- You want others to accept you.
We should treat people as valuable and important, seeing them through God's eyes as someone who Christ loves and died for. Accept people just as they are. Acceptance does not mean approval of someone's behaviour. Jesus was a 'friend of sinners' without condoning their sin. He reached out in love and acceptance to every person whatever they were like.
- You want others to encourage you.
Most of your best friends are those who encourage you. You don't have many strong relationships with those who pull you down. You avoid these people and seek out those who believe in you and lift you up. Everyone needs and responds to encouragement (Heb.10:24-25).
- You want others to listen to you.
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a passive receiving of a message. Listening involves an active participation in seeking to understand the viewpoint or feelings of the person speaking. Good listening involves concentration, focus and attentiveness (Jas.1:19). Listening conveys love.
- You want others to understand you.
Feeling misunderstood can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment and even resentment. Do all you can to put yourself in the other person's 'shoes'. Try to understand what they are thinking and feeling and what life is like from their perspective.
- You want others to forgive you
Be willing to forgive others when they offend or hurt you. Seek to resolve all conflicts and rebuild relationships (Rom.12:16. Eph.4:3, 32).
Let's face it, not everyone is easy to get along with. It is inevitable that some people will irritate and annoy us. As Christians we are either to put up with this ("forbear" ¨C Eph.4:2) or lovingly confront the issue (Mt.18:15). Jesus tells us to love, bless, pray for and do good to those may be our enemies (Mt.5:43-47).
You are responsible for how you treat other people. You may not be responsible for how they treat you. However, you are responsible for your reaction to those who are difficult. You can't choose how people will treat you but you can choose how you will respond. Ultimately, love is a choice not a feeling.The Source of Love
The Holy Spirit is the unending source of the love that we need for life (Rom.5:5. Gal.5:22). He desires to fill us with God's love so we are 'full' and able to love others deeply. When we know and feel that we are truly loved, we can risk loving others too.Sample Discussion Questions
- Jesus said that we would be known as his disciples by our love for one another. How is the church doing at this? In what ways are we truly different than the world around us and in what ways do we need to be careful that we're not just the same as other non-Christians? This question gets people talking about what relationships in the church are really like compared to what they should be.
- Describe various kinds of prejudice that exist in our world. How can we as Christians work to counter these? Examples include sexism (gender issues), racism, social class barriers, etc.
- Discuss what you think the qualities of a "safe" person are? What are the qualities of an "unsafe" person, whether they're a Christian or not? How should we relate to these types of people and how can we help them? These questions get some good discussion going about relationships.
- Paul tells us to"speak the truth in love&" (Eph.4:12). Why do we sometimes find it difficult to give AND receive honest feedback to one another? This is a good way to encourage more openness to one another.
- Describe a situation when you felt misunderstood? This question could lead to some real insights.
- Discuss the area of communication. What are some of the barriers or hindrances to being a good listener? Examples include poor eye contact, interrupting, judging, jumping to conclusions, etc.
- What are some practical ways we can encourage others? This can help the Life Group lift its 'love level'.