Everything you need to know in ten minutes

beach_birdsWhat if you only had ten minutes to show a group of people on a remote island everything they needed to know in order to grow into a vibrant Christian community, and you could only give them four Bible verses (they have no Bibles)? What would you share with them?  To keep it simple, we’ll assume these islanders have heard about Jesus and a few popular Bible stories.

Would you tell them they’re sinners in need of a savior? Remember, only four verses are allowed. The four spiritual laws? Then what? Would you give them Paul’s pastoral verses? Teach them your version of eschatology?

Here’s what I would share. And I believe, if they followed it, I could reasonably expect to come back 2o years later and find a strong authentic Christian community, filled with believers living out a vibrant faith in Christ.

First, here are the four verses I would leave with them. I will explain why I’m going with these verses afterward:

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16 *)

19 We love because he first loved us.  (1 John 4:19 *)

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  (John 15:9 *)

23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23 *)

You’ll notice all four verses are from John. His writing was the latest and arguably the most advanced in the New Testament. But here’s why I chose them:

Beach_Maureen_LaurenThe first verse (1 John 3:16) defines what love is. It’s self-giving, other-centered. It looks like Calvary. It also defines our value. We have unsurpassable worth because God gave Himself for us. And because He loves us this way, we should love others the same way.

The second verse (1 John 4:19) explains where this love comes from. I would stress that we learn to love by learning how to be loved by God. I would spend most of my ten minutes showing them how to open their hearts to God (remember my faucet illustration in my last post), which is as easy as breathing!

The third verse (John 15:9) tells us we’re to sustain our life in this love. Since God loves us like God loves God, we live every moment of every day in the knowledge of His affection toward us, agreeing with His appraisal of our infinite worth (so that we can love others as ourselves). We “remain” in this paradigm by cultivating an awareness of His presence, trusting that everything we need will be found in and through Him.

The fourth verse (John 17:23) tells us about living in community (common-unity), which causes Kingdom growth and advancement. I would explain to my island protégés that we are in the same relationship Jesus has with the Father and Holy Spirit. And from this place, we will find each other. And as we grow in other-centered love for one another, those (on the island) on the outside will see agape in community and want the same for themselves. Thus, we are ever advancing His kingdom on the earth (island).

The initial reaction to my message, like in the New Testament, would likely be that some would faithfully follow my instructions, others would resist (at least, initially). The faithful followers would become the “early church,” if you will. The resistors would be those on the outside of “community.”

Beach_peopleThese resistors would never be shamed into joining this faith community; they would be compelled by love (2 Cor.5:14-15), being convinced of God’s Kingdom as they see it demonstrated in this “New Jerusalem” of other-centered love (John 13:35). And her gates will never be shut to any thirsty soul (see Rev.21:25; 22:17).

You might ask, what about being “born again?” Saved by grace through faith? Adams’ fall, or the verses about our sin nature? Shouldn’t we threaten them with hellfire, warn of false prophets, the antichrist, or anything else they should be afraid of?

First, by opening their heart to Christ, they are saved (believing is a heart issue – Rom.10:10).

Second, perfect love casts out fear, and if I teach them how to be perfectly loved by God, and love each other with His love, I will have given them everything there is to know about Scripture and following Jesus.

Finally, everything else I could teach is only a means to this greater end: God’s eternal purpose, which is to bring us together in Christ, into the dynamic flow of fellowship and love in the Trinitarian Life (Eph.3:9-12).

And remember, we only have ten minutes!

Here’s how Jesus summed up everything:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt.22:37-40 *)

How about you? How would you use your ten minutes? Remember, you can only give them four (single) verses. I would love to hear your comments. 🙂

* NIV Bible translation.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
This entry was posted in Doctrine, Heaven on earth, Love, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Everything you need to know in ten minutes

  1. Lance says:

    Meek, you’re choices were excellent. Maybe I would leave them with the truth that the Christ spirit is in all and all of us so when they have questions, they look within and listen to their true self. You could throw in a couple of verses from Colossians, but then again the truth is within. Like you said they have no bible and neither did the early church. Makes you wonder if they might be better off without millennia of doctrinal dysfunction and dogmatic denigration.

    • Lance says:

      Sorry Mel, auto correct says your name is really Meek. Maybe there is a message in that. Ha ha.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “Like you said they have no bible and neither did the early church. Makes you wonder if they might be better off without millennia of doctrinal dysfunction and dogmatic denigration.”

      Yup, that’s about it. Our theology is like using an old computer that’s needs a serious defrag with lots of junk programs running on it. Slow and inefficient. I realized a while back that most of my learning lately has been having to unlearn so much! So much stuff we think is so important peripheral, at best. I’m jealous of the four year olds in our church that just know they’re loved! 🙂

  2. Mel, this is beautiful. I love it!

  3. Pastor Randy says:

    You are a “Wild” man, aren’t you, you radical rascal! Everything does flow from the core (the heart) of love. In the O.T. those that obeyed God did so mostly out of fear (of course there were exceptions), but fear was the motivator for the most part. Jesus comes to teach us the love, God’s kind of love, is to be our motivator. We do much more when motivated by love than out of legalism and fear. Thanks for the great insights!

    • Mel Wild says:

      You’re right, Pastor Randy. Fear was the main motivator in the Old Testament, mainly because they were relating to God while still eating from the wrong tree (knowledge of good and evil). Their view of God was orphan-based, separated. But when we’re put in Christ, we can now eat from the Tree of Life and experience God as He really is…love! And His love casts out all our orphan fear.

      As Paul said, we are compelled by love not to live for ourselves (2 Cor.5:14-15). Without this motivator, we have nothing at all. It’s just empty religion.

      Thanks for your comments, Blessings, bro!

  4. Pastor Randy says:

    Reblogged this on Kingdom Pastor and commented:
    Here’s another “Wild” blog that inspires and challenges me. How would you, how DO YOU, share the story of Jesus with others? With legalism and its rules? If you have chosen the rules and rituals to tell the story of Jesus, haven’t you ever wondered why we in the good old U.S.A. are living in this Post-Christian Culture and why mainline, established tribes (i.e. denominations) are in decline? Come on folks, get your act together! Let’s change our core, our heart, from centuries of traditions back to what it should be: The Love Of God Perfectly Expressed In Jesus! And remember, love God with all your heart, love others the way HE loves you, and make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Preach it, Pastor Randy! Thanks for the re-blog. 🙂

      • Pastor Randy says:

        Hey Wild Man, it’s worth sharing, and needs to be shared!

        • dawnlizjones says:

          It’s only been in my adulthood that I realized how much I have been living my life for God out of fear. He stopped me in my tracks one day (literally, when I was practicing worship alone on stage at church, not kidding, I remember where I was standing!) and He said, “It pleases Me when you trust My affection for you.” To which I replied, “I didn’t know that I DIDN’T trust Your affection”, but He remained silent. From that time on, He began to show me what He meant. It’s been a long time in coming, at times quite painful, as “surgery” can be, and yet, wholeness happens. Thanks for this, both of you!

  5. The most important thing is that God, the Divine Source of all life, the Creator of all things, is love; and true faith is our inner relationship with him as our abba father.
    My favorite words from the Bible:

    “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

    “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (John 4:7-9)

    “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)

    The Hymn To Love – Apostle Paul (Corinthians First Epistle -Chapter 13)

    “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
    but have not love,
    I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

    And if I have prophetic powers,
    and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
    and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
    but have not love,
    I am nothing.

    If I give away all I have,
    and if I deliver my body to be burned,
    but have not love,
    I gain nothing.

    Love is patient and kind;
    love is not jealous or boastful;
    it is not arrogant or rude.

    Love does not insist on its own way;
    it is not irritable or resentful;
    it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

    Love bears all things,
    believes all things,
    hopes all things,
    endures all things.

    Love never ends;
    as for prophecies, they will pass away;
    as for tongues, they will cease;
    as for knowledge, it will pass away.

    For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
    but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.

    When I was a child,
    I spoke like a child,
    I thought like a child,
    I reasoned like a child;
    when I became a man,
    I gave up childish ways.

    For now we see in a mirror dimly,
    but then face to face.
    Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully,
    even as I have been fully understood.

    So faith,
    hope,
    love
    abide, these three;
    but the greatest of these
    is love.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      Those are some of my favorite passages in the Bible, too. I didn’t include them because of the verse count. Since this goes way over our four verse limit, maybe when we returned to the island we could give them the early church hymn book, as recorded in the New Testament. Besides 1 Cor.13, it would include Rom.11:33-36; Eph.1:3-14; 5:14; Phil.2:5-11; Col.1:15-20; 1 Tim.3:16; 2 Tim.2:11-13; Heb.1:1-3.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “The most important thing is that God, the Divine Source of all life, the Creator of all things, is love; and true faith is our inner relationship with him as our abba father.”

      Love this statement. Amen!

  6. Agent X says:

    I will go to the place of shame, pain, and despair in my community and invite the homeless to come share communion, prayer, song, and sermon (if someone has one). I suppose I would Preach Jesus’s sermon which is summed up in Mark 1:15, and unpack that. But only if I felt sure I needed to use words to preach the Gospel.

  7. Mel, what I like is that you have simplified things. We (me included) tend to complicate. Thank you Mel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks David. I tend to make it complicated too! That’s why I love it when Jesus removes all the religious clutter…love God and love others with His love. Any questions? 🙂

  8. Pingback: Why we should embrace mystery | In My Father's House

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