Love: It’s who I AM (Week 6)

“The Revealing Love of Jesus!”

(Acts 9:1-19; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

The love of Jesus reveals who we are! It is impossible to know the motives of a person’s life, to know what is in a person’s heart, and we must be warned against guessing or presuming to know the mind of another person. Yet, we make evaluations of one another based on words, body language, dispositions, actions, especially when you walk in relationship with a person over time. Our lifestyles reveal who we are and people are always watching.

 

The reality is that we all have bad days and not a single one of us wants to be defined by our worst day. I have bad days at home and I know that Kimberly has 20 years of marriage to measure me by, not just one day. That does not give me permission to give myself over to a bad attitude which leads to me having a bad day, but I know that she will not measure me by that one day. But when I have a bad day at church, especially if it is a Sunday morning service or a leadership meeting, there is nothing scarier because most people don’t know me personally so one day or one conversation or one divergent thought is how I am measured (or at least that is the fear I live with, whether real or not). We all want to be given the benefit of the doubt. We all want people to think the best of us even when we are not at our best. Are we giving others the benefit of the doubt? Are we thinking the best of others, especially when they are having a bad moment?

 

We would be doing what the world can do, on its best day, by giving one another the benefit of the doubt, and trust me, I’ll take that if I can get it from most people on most days. But we are called to do more than give the benefit of the doubt, we are commanded to extend grace – grace that must be extended, not because of a person’s behavior, but despite their behavior. As the church, God intends for us to be a conduit [pull out the garden hose] of His grace to one another (first) and to the world (next). We are to practice and perfect in here who we are called to be out there—love!

 

As one of my friends told me in response to this message, “I can run out of giving ‘the benefit of the doubt’, usually after one or two times, if I base my decisions on other’s performance. The world says, ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’ We have to be committed to being made foolish time and time again, 70 x 7, in our pursuit of extending grace.”

 

Sound scandalous? It is, because this is how Christ first loved us! It is scandalous because the stakes are high! Our love for one another, for our neighbors, and for our enemies is an essential part of how God is revealing His Kingdom plans to the world! Our theme verse for this sermon series has been 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.” This is why for the last 6 weeks we have asked you to wear a red bracelet that proclaims, “Loving others as God first loved us.” Keep wearing this, remember it, memorize it, and most importantly, live it! This is what God is working in you. Through the Holy Spirit, God is working through you to reveal to others the love of Jesus Christ. And as you do this, you will be transformed from the inside out with each act of His love.

 

Our “7:1 Initiative” is an invitation to reveal the love of Jesus in practical ways. It’s a practical application to following Jesus and revealing His love to others! Are we loving well in relationships –who are your 7 people that you are learning to love with a sincere love? 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?

 

[Display the mud-caked sculpture] We have a whole community that needs to know the doors have been opened to God’s love through the church and that they are safe to come be family with us. People who live in our communities will feel invited and welcomed into the church if they already have been welcomed and invited into your family by you revealing the love of Jesus to them in tangible ways. These people, just like you and me, are invited to come to us just the way they are. You don’t need to clean up to come to Jesus, but in order to become a part of Jesus’ plans to transform the world through He love, you must allow His love to change you!

 

We must be transformed by the love of Jesus! Allow me to share a story with you from the Bible that is one of the most famous illustrations of a life transformed by the love of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ: the conversion of Saul, the Jewish Pharisee and persecutor of the church, who became the Apostle Paul, the author of 13 of the books in the New Testament and the great missionary whose missionary work is recorded in the second half of the Book of Acts. Before Paul could reveal the love of Jesus to others, he first had to have his eyes opened by the revealing love of Jesus.

 

Read Acts 9:1-19.

 

[Start water going over sculpture] In this story, who are the 2 primary change agents in Paul’s conversion: 1) Jesus (obviously and very supernaturally!) and 2) Ananias (not so obviously, but instrumental to Paul’s experience). To reinforce what I taught you last week, had Ananias not been obedient to Jesus, especially when it didn’t make sense, we may not have had Paul who played such an essential role in the growth and expansion of the work of Jesus.

 

Your love for another person will reveal to them the truth of who God is and the truth of who they are in God and what God would have them do with their life.

 

Ananias didn’t want to look foolish! He had solid historical reasons to not like Paul because he only knew him as Saul. He didn’t trust him or his intentions and didn’t want to go help him. But when confronted by the revealing love of Jesus, Ananias obeyed Jesus by loving Paul. Ananias is the one who laid hands on Paul to restore his sight. Paul had a power encounter with Jesus that forever opened his eyes (a truth encounter) because Ananias loved Jesus by obeying Him! Ananias was willing to be used as the person who revealed the love of Jesus to Paul. That is both a sincere love and a revealing love!

 

[Reveal the sculpture] After Paul’s eyes are opened by the revealing love of Jesus, Paul goes on to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the known world (Acts 13 – 28). After Paul’s eyes are opened, he makes it his life mission to open the eyes of the world to the love of Jesus. We only have a sketch of his ministry through the books of Acts, and a glimpse of all that he said through the preservation of the 13 letters of Paul in the New Testament. But it is clear that Paul teaches us so many wonderful things about Jesus and how to live as disciples of Jesus. Very directly, one of Paul’s constant themes of being a disciple of Jesus is being a person of love. Because love is the power Jesus uses to transform lives! The love of Jesus in you and then through you will reveal to others who you are in Christ, but also who they can be in Christ. You never know how your consistent steady life of love can change another person’s life and outlook on life.

 

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Can you personalize this scripture to your own life? How is God’s Spirit working in you to love people more and more like Jesus first loved us? What are some areas in your life right now where you need God’s grace to give you a fresh opportunity?

 

Your actions, words, dispositions, attitudes, and life will always reveal something, you are always sending a message. What does your life reveal?
 
 
 
Listen to it here
 
 
 
 
 

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