The Gift of Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(I Corinthians 13:13)
     What is the legacy of Jesus Christ? What is the legacy of people who are disciples of Jesus? What is the legacy that you and I leave as Christians?  What is the legacy of the Church?  Paul wrote to the church in Corinth reflecting upon what will last, what is of ultimacy, what is of greatest spiritual value, what is our legacy as Christians. Paul’s conclusion, speaking from his own journey of transformation from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a practitioner of following and serving Christ and His Church, was that “Faith, Hope, and Love” are the essence of the legacy that endures.  Of these, it is the love of God that fills us, transforms us, guides us, and helps us to endure and triumph. The Greek word for “love” that Paul uses here is “Agape”, which connotes love that is unconditional, unselfish, giving, serving, and enduring.
            Upon the upcoming “Homecoming Sunday”, September 19th, we will be celebrating the life and ministry of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles.  The greatest legacy of the church is not the history itself, nor the impressive building, but the ministries that have shared and nurtured God’s love.  Knowledge has developed over time, but the constant thread that has woven the Church community together has been God’s love. People have been honored, celebrated for their service and faithfulness, and their love has been the witness of God’s presence.  Christian community is formed and developed on the foundation of Jesus Christ through faith, hope, and love.
             Today, there are reasons to be concerned about the future of the church, as has been true in the past through various trials and troubles in our world.  Our hope and faith are founded upon the truth of God’s enduring, revealing, and redeeming love. Our story is not finished, our journey continues, because of God’s promises and God’s plan of fulfilling His redemptive purposes in love.  The COVID pandemic continues to be challenging, and attendance in churches around the world has diminished. Still, God’s love is calling us, undergirding our faith and hope. May we grow in patience and kindness. May we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, trusting that in love God will lift us up.
           The Soul Fruit of love will endure, and the message of Jesus, His very Word shall never fade or cease to persuade people to open their hearts to the love of God, and the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit.  In the words of a great hymn:  “Love lifted me, love lifted me. When nothing else could help. Love lifted me.”
          In Christ’s Love,   Pastor Scott Arnold

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