Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect
One aspect of the church that has always intrigued me is that it is a mixture of people from various walks of life. When I consider the question, “What do ministers do?” I must acknowledge this part of the job. For youngsters, being in a youth group meant being a part of a group of people that was often different from you. They’re not your typical friend group, family members, or sports club. These groups are often incentivized to belong together, with common goals like grades, winning games, or being related/surviving. A church is a group of people united under different intentions. This distinction becomes a crucial element of faith-building; two key aspects mentioned this best.
We don’t know how to love others as well as we should; love takes practice and diligence. In other words, you need a place to learn how to love others. I’ve met many 90-year-olds who haven’t learned how to love others. Therefore, there needs to be a space where we learn how to love in a community filled with grace and authenticity. This is among the most inspiring parts of the Christian faith and Jesus’ instructions. He states that the world will know us because of how we love each other and reflexively love those in the world. A youth group is a microcosm of that environment called church-ekklesia- “The Called Out.”
John 15:12-13 ESV “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. …17 These things I command you so that you will love one another.”
Love others the way that Jesus loved us… simple right? But we all know that this is a challenging thing to do. So, we need a place to learn how to lay our lives down for those around us. It is where we can put others above ourselves and meet their needs while we set ours aside. Remind yourselves that this is a commandment; it’s not optional. It is what Jesus wants, and we should find a way to enact it in our lives. Jesus says when this becomes evident in our lives, the world will recognize us as his disciples.
Therefore, we need a place to learn how to love; if we say we love God but do not love others, we only fool ourselves. John says as much in his first letter.
1 John 4:19-21 “We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
To love others in this manner is what I believe God intended the church to be; when I reflect on what ministry is, it is creating a place and environment where we can learn to love each other in a grace-filled and authentic way. Even when we mess up, and sometimes we mess up big, there must be a place to learn how to show grace and love. And that is precisely what we should be doing. Loving in this manner happens not only on a Sunday morning but every time the body meets together. Whether that is for coffee, sitting at a ball game, men’s dinners, or wherever it may be, learning how to love each other. And I mean really “love” each other, “lay-our-lives-down-for-each-other” kind of love. So that we can better love those around us and emulate the love that God has for us; this is ministry when Practice Makes Perfect.
So, what are you doing to love those within the body of Christ? I used to remind teens that no one can love you if you’re not here, and you can’t love anyone if you’re not here.
I close with two quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been his 95 birthday.
· “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
· “The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.”

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