Our vision statement contains 3 Action Steps that all come from commands that Jesus gave to His Church. Jesus never gave a command that was not based on His love for us or for His Father. For example, Action Step 1 is “Equipping His Church.” This step indirectly comes from the part of the Great Commission that states we are to “teach them to observe all I have taught you.” Action Step 3 is really a command that we should constantly fulfill “the Great Commission.”
At the same time, we need Action Step 2 to more fully understand the depth and the breath of all the loving commands that Jesus gave us. These commands challenge us to demonstrate our love for Him and His world and His Church in very significant ways.
- The First Command – Sacrificing our own desires and our own lives: Jesus began His ministry by calling individuals to set aside their lives and possessions to follow Him on His sacrificial mission. He did not promise them an easy life, worldly fame, material prosperity, or earthly power. He did promise them that they could have the Greatest Life possible in His Kingdom if they humbled themselves even as He had done. Here is how He said this: “Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. ‘If any of you wants to be my follower,’ he told them, ‘you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.‘” (Mark 8:34 NLT)
- The Great Command – Loving everyone as we love ourselves: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-38 NIV).
- The Last Command – Loving His churches so much that we pay whatever the cost to obey His last command recorded in the Bible: “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22 Holman). We know from Revelation chapters 1 – 3 that Jesus gave this command so that His servants would follow His example and continuously hear and analyze what the Holy Spirit is revealing about every local church. This is the only command in the Bible repeated seven times with exactly the same words. (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22).
Sadly, most Christian leaders from the third century on have failed to even recognize His Last Command, let alone obey His last command. Satan, the great deceiver, has done a masterful job obscuring the truth of Revelation chapters 1 – 3 by numerous deceptions. Rather than studying the deceptions, we should look at the obvious truths to be gleaned from these three chapters. A careful study of Revelation 1 – 3 and a review of the writings of second generation Christian leaders like Ignatius of Antioch will reveal that the early Church clearly understood this was a command to be faithfully obeyed. Our failure to do this and correct the problems revealed by this constant analysis has been one of the most significant reasons why the Christian Church – both Protestant and Catholic – is in decline throughout the Western World.