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Take a moment to read the following passage very carefully:

Jesus answered him,The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

I wanted you to read this carefully because there is a powerful lesson in here for you and me. Notice that Jesus said, “First, love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And then love your neighbor as yourself.” His point:

If you will work on the vertical relationship with God, the horizontal part becomes much easier.

If we’ll love God and have a growing relationship with God, it’s much easier to love our neighbor. But if you and I don’t have the vertical relationship sorted, then we’ll never be able to live out the horizontal the way that we should.

You and I can never love our neighbors properly unless we first love God.

And I would suggest that in this day and age when hate seems to be gripping our world as never before, your neighbor needs such love.

Now, I know you might be thinking, Yeah, but my neighbor’s a jerk! He’s a bad person. How am I going to love my neighbor? Or you may have someone at work that you really can’t handle. She’s selfish. Immoral. And you’re thinking, I’m supposed to love that person?

Yes. If we truly love our neighbors, it can change the world.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” This is the heart of our God, urgently seeking to save those who are lost—like your neighbor.

One of the things you and I need to remember is that lost people act like lost people. God loved us when we were lost. People do bad things because they’re lost. The evil in the world happens because people are lost. And Jesus is the answer.

Think about it. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need is forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

That’s why loving the lost is just so powerful. When you love someone when they are “unlovable,” it shatters their preconceptions about God and Christianity and creates a great opening to the Gospel!

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