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The church my wife, Taffi, and I pastor, World Changers Church International, began with eight members sitting around a table in an elementary school cafeteria discussing plans for the future.

We didn't have much to offer the sixty people who attended our first service. There were no padded pews, only two rows of metal folding chairs. The wooden podium rocked so badly that my sermon notes would often times fall off. And every now and then a rat would appear on stage.

However, in spite of the conditions, I heard the Spirit of God say, "Fill up the cafeteria with chairs. Get the members ready to receive people when I send them." So we made everyone ushers, even though that meant there would be no one left to sit in the pews!

But something very interesting happened. Although we didn't have much to offer in the way of material comfort, there was one thing we could do. We could demonstrate the love of God to each visitor. Whenever someone would come to that run-down cafeteria to attend one of our services, we would make them feel special.

After the service was over, we would ask our guests to come to the front. Then we'd thank them for coming, give them a standing ovation, and hug them to let them know how much they were loved and appreciated.

The change in them was immediate. I mean, the effect of God's love was written all over their faces. Their chins would rise up as if to say, "I'm special in this place. And they don't even know me!" Some were so glad to be there that they even shed tears.

After awhile we began noticing how many of our visitors returned, and it encouraged us. We'd make every effort to speak to them and make them feel welcome. We'd say, "Brother, what's your testimony? If there's anything I can do for you, let me know. I love you, man."

It's amazing to see how much our congregation has grown over the years. Now, instead of just eight members meeting in a school cafeteria, we're more than twenty thousand strong, with our meeting place completely paid for. But that only happened because from the beginning we took the responsibility of showing the love of Jesus to anyone who entered our doors.


Too Busy To Love
God's love is the kind that builds churches, however, most people tend to forget that fact after their congregation has grown larger and the church itself is more established in the community. That's when pastors and members alike become insensitive to the needs of others.

The number one concern in the hearts of people becomes obsolete in the quest to have the right image or reputation. On any given Sunday you may hear excuses like, "I don't have time to stop and pray with this person. I'll miss singing with the choir."

Often times I've watched as hundreds of people pass by a man or woman walking with his or her head down, apparently needing someone to stop long enough and share the love of God with him or her. Those are the same people who, even after sitting in a church service for an hour or two, continue to walk on by wearing the title of Christian, but without the sensitivity required of one.


They Will Know Us by Our Love
Jesus made it very clear in John 13:35 that the world would know us by our love. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." We must make it our goal to love others as God loves them. This is the only thing that draws the lost to Christ and sustains their relationship with Him, not harsh words or self-righteous attitudes.


Declare War on Complacency

I played football for a coach who once pulled me into his office and said, "I'm either going to drive you away from here or make you one of the best linebackers in the league." I replied, "I'm man enough to take whatever you want to dish out." You see, his words challenged me to stretch.

Sometimes we need to be challenged in order to progress to the next level of maturity and spirituality. The key to your reaching that next level is learning how to love. You should not be satisfied with where you are in your walk with Christ. Never think that you have "arrived," at least not until you get to heaven! There is always room for improvement.

It's so easy to compare ourselves to others. We see someone who is struggling in a certain area, and our tendency is to feel superior to him in some way. But that's the wrong attitude to take. There are so many areas in our lives that need improvement. We must do as Paul did in Philippians 3:12-13, "and press on toward a higher level of spirituality and love. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus."

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
Opposition caused Paul to press toward His goal of knowing the fullness of God and His calling. And it was that same opposition that strengthened Paul's resolve and pushed him out of the realm of average into the realm of extraordinary.


Forget the Past
Paul said that we must forget the past, not only those things we are most ashamed of, but also those things that we are proud of. Why? Because dwelling on either one can hinder our spiritual progress and prevent us from pushing ourselves to do better. In other words, we stagnate rather than multiply.

For example, if a football player makes fifteen tackles in one game, he can hardly concentrate on the next game, because in most cases, he is still dwelling on the glory of the previous tackles. Your judgment gets clouded when you don't let go of the past. How? Because it either builds your ego or else it feeds your shame. From that point on, every decision you make will be based on one of those emotions.

Paul said that spiritually mature Christians are like athletes, always pressing toward the finish line, not allowing anything to hinder them from reaching it. Our goal should be to please God in all we do. How can we do this? By showing His love to those around us. In fact, it is absolutely vital that we love with intensity.


Ask God To Fill You With Love
If you are not sure how to begin, begin by asking God to fill your heart with His love. Let Him know that you desire to see others as He does, and then go and win them to Jesus. Taffi and I did this a lot when we were dating.

I remember one day we were supposed to be going to dinner, but the Lord put it on both of our hearts to knock on some apartment doors and win souls to Christ. One guy tried to hit on Taffi. He said, "Yeah, baby, you can talk to me." She said, "You know, that's the devil in you, and that's the reason I'm here. You need to be delivered and set free!" Incredibly enough, not only was that man delivered, he accepted Christ into his heart as well. That was the best non-date Taffi and I ever had!


Don't Be Too Ashamed To Love
Maybe you're ashamed to love others, because you don't want them to think you've gone off the deep end. Or maybe it's because you feel too awkward to witness to people. However, the Bible says, "And hope makes us not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Rom. 5:5)

When you became born again, there was a spark in your eyes that hadn't ever been there before. That was the love, presence, and glory of God inside of you. All you wanted to do was share that feeling with everyone you knew. However, many people lose that sparkle with every passing year. Why? Because they forget to pour that love into the lives of those around them.

You see, God's love is magnified whenever we share it with others. God never intended for us to hoard it or cover it up. By extending that compassion, warmth and unconditional commitment, you become more than just a person with the title of Christian. You are transformed into a true follower of Christ.

Source: Lord, Teach Me How To Love by Creflo A. Dollar, Jr.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Creflo A. Dollar
Web site: World Changers Ministries
 
Creflo Dollar is the founder and senior pastor of World Changers Church International (WCCI) in College Park, Georgia; World Changers Church-New York; and a host of fellowship churches throughout the United States and internationally. WCCI also has offices in Australia (serving the Asia-Pacific region), South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and the Ukraine.
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