When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He answered with a very clear statement: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22.37). Loving God involves more than just a general feeling of good will towards a higher being. To love God means to connect with God in our heart and soul, to enjoy the Lord’s character and being, and to engage God with our mind. We love God by expressing our love and devotion through worship, by opening our heart, mind, and soul to God’s voice, and by resting in His presence.
At First Baptist Church of Benbrook, we love God together through our Sunday morning worship services. During these times, the congregation gathers to express our love to God through prayers and songs, and to present our heart and mind to Him to be transformed through His Word. Each service has a distinctive musical style, but both focus on loving God with our heart, mind, and soul.
Beyond the corporate gatherings of worship, each person must also love God through their daily life. This is done by spending time in personal prayer, reading the Bible, and resting in God’s presence.
Where do we begin a faith journey? The first step is to love God by joining the gathered body of Christ in worship and to develop a personal relationship to God through a daily walk with Christ.
Jesus didn’t just stop with the greatest commandment. He followed it up with the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22.39). We cannot say that we love God, whom we cannot see, if we do not love our neighbor whom we can see. In the Bible, there are over more than two dozen “one another” commands such as “forgive one another,” “encourage one another,” or “be kind to one another.” In other words, an essential element of following Jesus is that we love one another.
These commands can only be carried out in the context of community. Therefore, we believe it to be essential to provide opportunities for our members to develop community among the body of Christ, a community where we can fulfill Jesus’ commands to love one another.
At the First Baptist Church of Benbrook, we encourage each of our members to be part of a community group where the one another commands can be fulfilled. We have two types of community groups: Sunday school classes and small groups.
Sunday School classes are small group Bible studies that meet on Sunday mornings at 10 AM on the church campus. There is a Sunday School class for every age group, from the new born baby to the...well you get the picture. People gather in groups of people close to their own age and stage of life to build friendships around the Bible.
Small groups are groups of three to fifteen people who meet weekly outside the church building to practice evangelism, build community, and grow spiritually with the goal of multiplying the group. Many of these groups meet on Sunday nights at 6 PM, but not all of them. We have youth small groups, college small groups, and family small groups. In these groups, we try to share life together and to learn together what it means to follow Jesus.
Of course, there are many other opportunities to love our neighbor. Loving our neighbor means that we love our spouses, our children, our parents and siblings, those who live on our street, our co-workers, other students at our school, and even those whom we do not yet know. To be a follower of Christ is to grow in the grace of loving one another.
The Bible says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4.10). In other words, to love God and to love our neighbors means that we use whatever gifts, talents, and skills that we have been given to serve both. Some of this service may take place within the confines of the church, but much of it will take place off the church campus.
At the First Baptist Church of Benbrook, serving God and others through the church takes a variety of shapes. It might mean mowing the church lawn, teaching a Sunday School class for children, volunteering with the student ministry, singing in the choir, or working in the sound booth. There are a myriad of ways to serve God and others through the various ministries of the church.
Of course, God and others can be served off the church campus, too. This takes place informally every time we each use our gifts in service among our families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. It also takes place in organized fashions by working with local ministries and agencies to share the love of God in practical ways. Some of these include serving meals at the Presbyterian Night Shelter, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, or helping Refugee Services of Texas relocate a refugee family to Fort Worth. We also serve God and others by participating in short term mission trips to Mexico, Germany, Canada, and beyond. In addition, we serve God and others by financially supporting the International Mission Board as they send missionaries to the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus Christ.