Love: It’s who I AM (Week 4)

The Modeling Love of Christ

1 John 4:19

Kevin King, Youth Director

We all need models of Christ’s love around us so we see demonstrations of how we are to love others.  As we learn to love like Christ did, we become models to others in our network of friends and family.  They in turn become models of Christ’s love to others.  Let’s look at examples of this process from God’s Word and then talk about Why, To Whom and How to model Christ’s love…

Ephesians 5:12, 1 Timothy 4:12, 1 Timothy 5:1-2

We see this process in the lives of Paul and Timothy.

Timothy saw this model in his grandmother and mother. (2 Timothy 1:5)

1 Corinthians 1:11, 1 Corinthians 4:16-17

We need to be this kind of interconnected group:

  • Fellow believers Modeling His love to us
  • We go out and are sharing this love with others

This leads us to ask three questions:

  1. Why do we model Christ’s love?
  2. To whom should we model Christ’s love?
  3. How do we model Christ’s love?

 

Question 1:  Why do we model Christ’s love?

 

1 John 4:19          He first loved us!

 

Switchfoot sings, “we become what we believe in” in the song Who We Are and in The World You Want:

 

You start to look like what you believe…
What you say is your religion
How you say it’s your religion
Who you love is your religion
How you love is your religion
All your science, your religion
All your hatred, your religion
All your wars are your religion
Every breath is your religion…

 

We are the “diorama” of Christ to this community…

 

Question 2:  To whom should we model Christ’s love?

 
Our brothers and sisters in Christ  (John 13:34)

Our neighbor – that is everyone else who is not a believer.  (Matthew 22:37-40)

Our enemies!  The unworthy…  Even those who have deeply hurt us.  (Matthew 5:43-48)

An act of love changes us.  And God can use it to change them, too.

 

Romans 5:6-8    He died for us while we were yet sinners.

 

Example:  Mike dressed in black and had a blue mohawk haircut.  He went from judged and rejected to youth pastor because someone modeled Christ’s love to him.
 
Question 3:  How do we model Christ’s love?
 

We love others by our actions.  (1 John 3:18)

We love others by serving them.  (John 13:12-17)
Jesus, the creator, washed filth from his disciples’ feet.
Jesus got dirty as he served others in this broken world.    We will get dirty as we serve others!
 

Example:  Kevin’s story about falling into a mucky pond and the love his grandfather showed to help Kevin get cleaned up.

“Loving others is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.”
We are called to lay down our lives for others that God cares about.   (John 15:12-13)
We lose so they can win… we are to die to ourselves so that others can live!
Jesus died for us.  (1 John 3:16, Mark 8:34-35)
 
We die to our desires so we can love others.  So others can experience God’s love.  (Philippians 2:3-5)
 
Do you have a reputation for loving others, for putting them first?

 

“Love one another as I have loved you.”   (John 15:12-13)
There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another.
 
 
Listen to it here.

 


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Love: It’s Who I Am! (Week 3)

“The Boundless Love of Jesus!”

(Luke 1:26-38 & John 19:25-30)

 

Today we are talking about how Jesus redefined love through His life, starting with His very unique birth. Throughout this sermon I am going to attempt to describe the “boundless love of Jesus.” The image I hope to invoke in you is of a love that tears down the boundaries of who is in and who is out. Politically, this would be like us discussing whether or not our nation should have a wall on our southern borders that keeps the ins in and the outs out. But we are not talking about a nation-state and its immigration policies, more importantly we are talking about our human hearts and our willingness to love without boundaries like Jesus first loved us!

 

Read Luke 1:26-38. Jesus’ birth is the beginning of a new way of God relating to His people and how His people were to relate to one another. While I am calling it new, in many ways it is only new in that it is novel to our life experiences. To God it is not new at all, but a return to the beginning of how He designed us to interact with Him and with one another—as Image Bearers who are members of God’s household.

 

Jesus came to reestablish the household of God by tearing down the boundaries between us caused by sin. God tore down the boundary between heaven and earth by taking on flesh and becoming one of us. That is a love that will do anything—the boundless love of Jesus Christ!

 

What was God’s vehicle for this great rescue mission? Family through a teenage mother named Mary! And God continues to use willing vessels of His boundless love to continue the work of this rescue mission!

 

God may have started with Mary, but through her He birthed Jesus whose family is to transform the world by giving the same love God first gave to them. Jesus’ family are not those who can find a genetic connection to Abraham or Moses or King David or Mary or one of the original Apostles. Jesus’ family is founded in FAITH, but made visible by LOVE!

 

Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:46-50,

 

While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”[1]

 

Our family loyalty is to Jesus, but the outflow of our loyalty to Jesus is to how we love one another. As Jesus says of this new family system in Matthew 23:9-12, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”[2]

 

We are BOUND to Jesus, but our love must ABOUND to one another to show it. Mary, the mother of Jesus, made herself available to God as a willing vessel of God’s boundless love in Jesus Christ. But she then made herself available to God’s boundless love while Jesus was dying on the cross. How? Watch what happened in John 19:25-30,

 

Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.[3] (emphasis mine)

 

Just like Jesus’ death on the Cross tore the veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, Jesus’ resurrection tore down all the boundaries of human love so that He could reestablish that which sin had destroyed: the household of God. I want to emphasize in John 19:27 the use of the word ‘household’. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible explains of this important concept: “Biblically, the term ‘family’ is interchangeable with ‘house,’ and ‘founding a house’ can refer to setting up a separate dwelling as well as establishing a family. In his preaching Jesus used the family as a symbol for the relationship of God to his people (Mt 19:14; 23:9; Lk 8:21). From the cross he handed over responsibility for the care of his mother to his disciple John (Jn 19:27).”[4]

 

By receiving John as her new son, Mary’s needs would now be cared for by her new family. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection has made the way for a new human family with Jesus as the head, made possible by a love that does not come from ourselves, but from God in Jesus!

 

Are you willing to take on a new son or a new mother? Are you willing to practically live out the call to be family with others who are of the household of God?

 

What are some practical implications for your daily life if you were to love like Jesus?

 

As disciples of Jesus we are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ into members of God’s household and as members of God’s family we are to “love others as God first loved us.” That is why we have given everyone a red wrist band, children and adults alike. To remind us to love when we don’t feel like. Love is not an emotion; it is a choice based on our identity in Christ!

 

John, the beloved of Jesus, teaches in 1 John 4:19-21, “We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”[5] The very disciple that Jesus gave to His mother as a son, to care for her and provide for her, is now saying to us that we are to love one another in that same way. We are to love one another so that the world will know that we are His disciples. We are following the Way of Jesus, not the ways of the world!

 

Who are you following? This is where our “7:1 Initiative” hits home. It’s a practical application to following Jesus! Are we loving well in relationships –who are your 7 people that you are investing in as family? Are we serving others well in our communities—where is your 1 place of service that you are giving yourself to others in the name of Jesus?

 

We are to give one another the love that Christ first gave us. Give to others as He has already given to you. That’s why Jesus said of the coming judgment in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”[6] When we love one another, we are loving God!

 

God is establishing His household and ultimately we are to love one another with God’s boundless love because that is the way people will see Jesus’ love for them. It is our love for one another and our willingness to welcome others into our faith family that puts on display God’s boundless love. If you create boundaries, your life becomes a wall of God’s love!

 

How are you loving? Are you willing to carry within you the love of God in Jesus Christ?

 

Remember, we are heading towards the greatest family reunion ever. There is a party we are on the way to and our job is to invite others to the party by the way we love them.

 

Who can you invite to into your life, into your home or out for a meal, to an event or activity that you care about, into your small group or class, to church with you?

 

We have a whole community that needs to know the doors have been opened and they are invited. They will feel invited and welcomed into our church family if they already have been welcomed and invited into your family.
 
Listen to it here.
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 12:46–50.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 23:9–12. Bruce Malina writes, “I might point out here, incidentally, that Paul’s solution to the problem posed by such dyadism, much like the solution envisioned in Matt. 23:8-10, is to point out that obligations owed to Jesus have to paid back not to Jesus, but to others in dyadic relation with Jesus, that is, one’s fellow post-Jesus group members. The result is a sort of polyadic relationship (“poly-” means many): a number of people in equivalent social statuses organized around a single interest and mutually obligated in terms of this single interest, much like a guild or Roman burial association” (Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology. Third Edition, Revised and Expanded [Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001], 97).
 

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Jn 19:25–30.

[4] Hazel W. Perkin, “Family Life and Relations,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 768.

[5] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 1 Jn 4:19-21.

 

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 25:40.

 


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Love: It’s Who I Am! (Week 2)

“The Reflective Love”

I John 4:19-21; Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-6; Romans 8:35-37; John 13:34-35

 

Just a little over 14 years ago, on Easter Sunday, the first dramatic musical that we presented to this community was called “What Love Is.”, written by Christy Ragle and using the secular song from the group Foreigner “I Want to Know What Love Is”. It seems only fitting that we are covering this topic once again when our community, our church, our nation, our world is in need of this message of hope.

 

 Take a look at these images:

            1) The Durham Boys

            2) The Kalisch Clan

            3) The Clark Boys

 

Do you see the similarities in each of these families? They reflect the image of their parents because of DNA. I hope you can also see the love that they have for one another. Sure , there might be some sibling rivalry at times, but their love for each other wins over all.

 

 In Genesis 1:26, it is written:

“ Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

From the very beginning, it was God’ desire for us to reflect him. But sin separated us from Him, so He made a way for us to come back into relationship with Him.

 

We find written in 1 John 4:9-10,19-21:

.”God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our

We love each other because he loved us first.  If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”

 

A recent article on Reflecting God’s Love, stated: ”Love for God compels love for others; love for others reflects love for God. The two ideas can neither be separated nor compartmentalized.” We cannot say that we are in relationship with God if we cannot show love to those around us.

 

God’s Word gives a prime example of someone who thought he was doing what he was suppose to in order to get people to honor God’s law. He was enforcing law and not love. The guy’s name was Saul of Tarsus.

 

 Acts:8:1-3 

“Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.  (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)  But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.”

 

Saul was a Roman citizen and a Pharisee who took it upon himself to show his zeal for God in making sure that the followers of Jesus were silenced since they were not following the Jewish laws and customs…all 613! Saul had been raised and taught that it was in following the laws that kept you in relationship with God. He could not have been more wrong. So Jesus got his attention…

 

Acts 9:1-6

“Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest.  He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!  Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 

He had a personal encounter with Jesus! He knocked him off his donkey, he fell to the ground and the Lord talked to him. It wasn’t a long talk, but he was struck blind and had three days to think about it!  Even Ananias, the guy God spoke to about bringing the message of healing and hope to Saul, was fearful to go see him. But in those three days of fasting and prayer, God changed Saul’s heart! He was baptized and began preaching in the synagogue, which did not make the Jewish leaders happy. So they plotted to kill him (does this story sound familiar?) So some of the believers snuck him out of the city in a basket through an opening in the city wall.  Saul returned to Tarsus and spent 3 years in Arabia (See Galatians 1:15-18) During that time, he spent time with the Lord and sharing the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. His name change from Saul to Paul was not part of the protective services plan, but rather Saul was his Roman citizenship name, and Paul was his Greek name, and the Gentiles would have been more familiar with it. I find it interesting that the name PAUL mean “small or humble”, and the Apostle Paul was not one to build himself up, but rather humble himself and make himself small so that God would be shown as his strength and power.  (2 Cor. 12:10)

 

All throughout Paul’s life, he reflected the love of Christ, even to those who persecuted him, stoned him, flogged him, threw him in jail, and he went places with this message, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Like Jesus, it was in Jerusalem that he was arrested. Like Jesus, he was taken before the Roman authorities. And like Jesus, he had false witnesses tell lies about him, but he never stopped sharing the message of love that God had given him to share.

 

In his message to the Romans, we find words of hope and encouragement for us when it comes to God’s love:

Romans 8:35-37

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

 

This past Easter, almost 300 of our brothers and sisters in Christ were killed in Sri Lanka. This past Sunday, an Assembly of God pastor, his two sons and three others in the church were killed in Burkina Faso. Does it mean they were not loved by God because this happened? NO! Then what does it mean? It means the devil is going all out to silence the voices of those who are proclaiming God’s love in areas that are in desperate need of this message. Does this that the devil is victorious here? NO! The news showed interviews of some of the surviving members praying for those who were behind the attacks. Could you do that? We are called to pray for those who spitefully use us…to pray for our enemies! We challenge you each week to pray for the names in our prayer guide, but we also need to add to that the names of those who have hurt you, used you, or have treated you wrongly. For love covers a multitude of sin (1Peter 4:8)! This is where we will find the victory, even if it is not on this side of glory!

 

Therefore, we are to have an outward reflection of an inward reality. If we are to truly reflect the love of Christ in our lives, we have to live it out, demonstrated in EVERYTHING we do. Are we going to always get it right? No…but through God’s grace, we will get better and better at it. Then we will fulfill the words of Jesus that John the beloved wrote in John 13:34-35:

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” 

 

Let’s go out and show to the world that we love not only each other, but those who are lost and dying in our neighborhoods, our community, our nation, our world…. wherever the Lord calls you…so that they can find that hope, grace, mercy and love that we have received in our lives.
 
Listen to it here.
 

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Love: It’s who I AM! (Week 1)

“The Life-Transforming Love of Jesus!”

1 John 4:19 & John 13:34-35

In preparation for my sabbatical (that is only 4 months away) I want to share with you some of my heart-felt desires for us. I have been praying for the church and three big foci keep standing out to me for now and into our future. Let me introduce them by asking three questions:

 

1) Are we a church focused on yoking with Jesus by studying the Bible to learn all that Jesus commanded us?

2) Are we a church focused on praying (communicating with God) as Jesus taught us and modeled for us?

3) Are we a church focused on loving others as God first loved us?

 

Today, right now, if we had a reputation in our community, I would want it to be found in one word: LOVE! To hear from our community, “We may not agree with them on some things or understand their faith in Jesus, but those Christians from FBC sure do love us well.” LOVE!

 

What the community sees is the tip of the iceberg of who we are! How we love others is a visible part of who we are as Jesus’ people. Invisible to most, including to one another, is our time with Jesus—our personal Bible study and prayer times. The good fruit of all that is invisible to our community is love! The Bible calls love a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the collective fruit shows our maturity in Jesus. It’s what we get when we connect with Jesus. Allow me to share a short illustration: Once upon a time, I was an athlete. No one saw how fast I sprinted in practice or how much I lifted in the weight room or how well I rested or practiced or kept my diet. In fact, if someone came bragging to me about how much they benched or squatted, but didn’t compete well, I was far from impressed! What matters to people are game day results, but every successful athlete will tell you it is what happens that is not visible that determines those results! For us, that is LOVE! If you tell people how much you read your Bible and how hard you pray, but you don’t love, they will not be moved![1]

 

We are called as disciples of Jesus, members of God’s household, to “love others as God first loved us.” In fact, the Apostle John, who is called the beloved of Jesus, teaches in 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”[2]

 

We just celebrated Easter and we saw God’s eternal love exemplified for us in Jesus Christ. The night before His death, Jesus gave a new commandment to the Church, in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love [ἀγαπάω] one another, even as I have loved [ἀγαπάω] you, that you also love [ἀγαπάω] one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love [ἀγάπη] for one another.”[3]

 

The Greek word agape is a key focus of this text because we are to love one another with God’s heart, His eternal love, an unconditional love that we cannot produce on our own. We are to give to others that which we first received. Listen to one commentator reflect on John 13:34-35,

 

The point is surely clear: The mutually lived-out heart love of Christians for one another will be the single greatest missionary force in the world. It is important to notice that the power for disciples’ love for one another does not come from the disciples themselves; it comes from the preceding love of Christ for them, a love they already know and experience. So disciples are not being asked to “work up” a love they do not already have at work in them by Jesus’ presence with them and by his prior and continuing love for them. They are more simply asked to let this love (that they already have and are experiencing) enjoy its source (Jesus) and its goal (other people). In teaching settings, in order to catch the full force of the Greek, I have sometimes translated our verse this way: “Keep on loving one another out of the well of my love for you! Come on, keep on loving one another!”[4] (emphasis original)

 

Today, you are being given a wrist band that we want you to wear. If you brought some kids with you today and they are in children’s church they are getting a wrist band too. The kids’ wrist bands simply say “love” and our wrist bands say, “loving others as God first loves us”. We want you to make God’s love visible to our communities. You may have received your wrist band on the way in, if not you will receive it on the way out. Please put it on and wear it for the next 6 weeks as we go through this series. Please memorize it, then remember who you are!

 

While the Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:7-21), it never says “love is God”. There is a big difference and one that begins and ends with Jesus. You don’t become loving focusing on love, but by focusing on the God who is love. Love is the outflow of your relationship with God.

 

How then do we become more loving if not by trying to be loving? Within this question is the key. You can’t become more loving by focusing on being loving. It doesn’t work. You have to set your eyes on becoming more like Jesus, who is love!

 

Disciples of Jesus are to be…

1) Jesus-yoked: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29).We are committed to applying the Bible in relationship with Jesus and people, not as rules, but as people who are “full of grace and truth” like Jesus. Remember, we can be right and wrong at the same time! Right in what we believe and wrong in how we live it and communicate it. The great proof of our relationship with Jesus is how we are like Him!

 

2) Prayer-connected and Spirit-empowered: We are in an ongoing conversation with God, as a way of life. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Without connection to God, we are powerless to love as Jesus loved us! We are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. With 1 & 2 in place, we can then do #3 truly and from the inside-out.

 

3) Loving others like Jesus: We are living out the Father’s Heart that we just spent 8 weeks focusing on in our “Belong” series based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This is where our “7:1 Initiative” hits home. Are we loving well in relationships –who are your 7 people that you are investing in? Are we serving others well in our communities—where is your 1 place of service that you are giving yourself to others in the name of Jesus?

 

Is your love real love (from the Source) or “fish love” (for yourself)? Watch this video to understand the difference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMcHtSjtNBY

 

Counterfeit loves doesn’t work and it doesn’t last! We need the real thing and that can only happen through a relationship with Jesus Christ! How do we learn to be like Jesus?

 

Listen to this book excerpt that illustrates the answer to this question:

 

Many [people] are trapped in brokenness that may not have to do with moral failure, but they really need help in putting their relationship back together. What’s their hope? Their hope, like ours, is the gospel. If the gospel can’t heal the worst situations when people yield, repent and open themselves to the disciplining, restoring grace of God, then the gospel isn’t worth much. But we know the gospel is worth everything because Christ provided it through His death and resurrection. People can sincerely seek healing for brokenness; however, they’ll never find it if the Christian community around them isn’t committed to healing. And that’s one of the tragedies occurring in places where men and women have failed—the Christian community doesn’t have the will to offer healthy healing. Only when the Church commits itself to restorative ministry will men and women stop acting in self-righteousness and, with the tenderness of Galatians 6:1, start being committed to getting every broken player back on the field again to serve in the Kingdom. Then I think we’ll see a revival spirit break out as we begin to act as if we believe restoration is possible and desirable.[5]

 

In response to this quote, one of our elders wrote me, “That’s awesome. And radical love, like the one demonstrated by Jesus, is all that will work. Not the pseudo-love that we often show, which often has as much self-interest and reciprocity baked in as any semblance of real love. No sacrifice, really very little discomfort.”

 

What the elder was talking about is the difference between real love (that comes from God first and is on display for the world to see through Jesus) and the fish love you heard the rabbi speak about earlier. When we love others with a desire for them to love us more or to reciprocate the love, then we are not loving them, we are loving ourselves through them.

 

This sermon is just the beginning of a 6-week series called, “Love: It’s who I AM” and this is not just a 6-Sunday focus on love. To love as God first loved us as Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”[6]

 

What flows in and through you and out of you throughout you days, your circumstances? If there is bad fruit, then get to the root of it—confess, repent, and ask Jesus to transform you from the inside out! You can’t change yourself and you can’t make yourself a loving person and your relationships will suffer if you are peddling a counterfeit version of love. In fact, the testimony of Jesus suffers when His Church deals in counterfeit love!

 

The only way we will become people who love others as God first loved us is to receive the love of the Father by grace, as a gift! Paul said in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”[7] God’s love is a love you don’t clean up to receive and you can’t work to earn it. It’s grace and once received it will fundamentally change who you are! God’s love is a life-transforming love! We have been placed in this area and in this time to be a part of Jesus’ mission to seek and to save the lost. The gospel transforms stories and we have the privilege to make that our focus.

 

How is our love for God and for one another in the church family attracting others to want to belong to the family of God? This is not a task to do. This is not an evangelistic strategy. This is not a church growth campaign. This is not a new class or method. This is who you are when you are in Christ.

 

Love: It’s who I AM! It’s who I AM in Christ Jesus. I am a new creation with a new nature. Behold the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thank you Jesus!

 

If I asked those closest to you to describe you in one word, what would that word be? Would it be ‘love’?  
 
 
Listen to it here.
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] “The formidable Augustine of Hippo believed that all Christian reading of Scripture should be governed by the pursuit of virtue. In his case, he emphasized love (charity) above all else. As far as Augustine was concerned, reading Scripture should encourage the reader’s love for God and for his or her neighbor. ‘So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them’” (E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012], 189–190). In an article on evangelizing Muslims, after great effort to discuss theology and approaches, the Patrick O. Cate writes, “However, no matter what we do or how we look at it, the sine quo non of introducing Muslims to our Savior and Lord is love and prayer” (Patrick O. Cate, “Gospel Communication from Within” (International Journal of Frontier Missions, Vol 11:2 April 1994), 97.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 1 Jn 4:19.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Jn 13:34–35. Emily Hurst, one of our church’s worship leaders, commented on this passage and provided an excellent resource to understand the depth of its language, “This being Jesus’ final command gives it great weight, and the Greek here makes it even more powerful. “Agapate allelous”, Love, here, is the agape love. The unconditional love, the soul-level love with which God loves us. It’s fairly obviously Jesus didn’t command us to “eros” love here; but I believe many have interpreted this verse to be referencing “phileo” love or “storge” love. Especially the latter, which is defined as natural affection or obligation. Instead, Jesus called us to value one another highly, as precious and to place the well-being of others above ourselves. I found this resource that broke down the four kinds well: https://www.mcleanbible.org/sites/default/files/Multiply-Resources/Chap3/GreekWordsforLoveWS_Chapter3.pdf.”

[4] Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans, 2012), 796.

[5] H. B. London Jr., Neil B. Wiseman, and J. F. Dobson, Pastors at Greater Risk (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), Chapter 4.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Jn 3:16.

[7] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Ro 5:8.
 

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