The Love of Christ
Announcements: Bible Study tomorrow night...
So…FINALLY!…it seems that it’s been a while since we were walking through this Sermon Series the last time...
We’re finally back into again...
…and i think it might be beneficial if we look back - briefly - to see where we’ve been.
If you recall, we had been answering some questions as we made our way through this series...
1st - What do i believe? (11 core Christian beliefs)
2nd - What should I do?
And all of THAT - pointing to this - DISCIPLESHIP...
4 weeks ago, we finished up the 2nd section of this sermon series...
…finishing off that 2nd question - What Do I Do?
And now we come to the final question of this series: Who Am I Becoming?
*One of the best things about having kids = see parts of yourself in them
(sons BECOME their dads)
(daughters BECOME their moms)
How many of you see YOU in your kids?
How many of you see YOUR mom or dad IN YOU?
You know why that is?
DISCIPLESHIP - - we learn the ways of our parents.
and so we BECOME like them
Today, we’re going to begin answering the question - WHO AM I BECOMING?
And the first trait we’re going to look at is this - The Love of Christ
If we’re BECOMING like Jesus - then we will begin to LOVE like Jesus...
And so I think before we get into HOW Jesus loved…let’s look at how we’re NOT to love...
Scripture shows us MANY examples of how Love can be MISDIRECTED!
SLIDE - Love Not - Self Interest
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
So what the Bible does is - it takes SELF and puts it in the ring with OTHERS...
And it says - OTHERS - WINS
1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
We must look out for the well-being of others, OVER-AND-ABOVE, our desire to:
win an argument
prove a point
Now - there’s a fine line here.
If someone is about to sin - then yes, you should do what you can do persuade them otherwise...
…and that might take you being - blunt with someone.
But it’s going to take us, SURVEYING the situation…and asking ourselves - is this something that ultimately harm this person…?
If not, then - go with the flow.
We know that there is FREEDOM in Christ...
Paul says it this way:
1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
So we know that there is freedom in Christ - to eat anything unto God’s glory...
But Paul makes it clear that EATING food should not be elevated to be something that would cause people to DIVIDE...
Paul says - those who are stronger in their faith, who KNOW it’s ok to eat anything…SHOULD ACTUALLY abstain from eating that CERTAIN food...
WHEN - if it’s going to cause the WEAKER brother to stumble...
And so in that sense - We ought not to LOVE SELF-INTEREST - but instead choose to consider others as more important than ourselves...
SLIDE: LOVE NOT - Prestige
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
Love does not ENVY or BOAST -
If Arrogance or Boasting is the VEHICLE by which your love MOVES....then you’re not loving...
because love is neither of those things
SLIDE: LOVE NOT - the world
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Who in here believes that the WORLD is after your HEART?
Does the world try to tempt you?
every second of every day
the list is never ending
The world takes MORALLY-Neutral things…makes those things your pursuit...
…and makes YOU the point of it all!
The world will take a CAR - the newest - coolest CAR...
and the world will CONVINCE you to pursue THAT CAR...
SO THAT — YOU — will receive the glory of man
So now - take the CAR out of the equation, and replace it with whatever else you want to...
to pursue the WORLD is to pursue SELF-EXALTATION...
and this is CONDEMNED in Scripture...
but what else?
SLIDE: LOVE NOT - Money
We’ve seen this before - we’ve heard this before...
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
Do we believe it’s vanity? This is a HARD thing...
To have money, and to use money…(its like - inside ALL of our pockets lies a TIME-BOMB!
And so if MONEY is the AIM of our LOVE…we’re on the wrong path…a path that leads to destruction.
But what else?
SLIDE: LOVE NOT - Sin
12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
So in this verse we see 2 CONTRASTING sides...
According to this verse:
Someone who TAKES PLEASURE in SIN (unrighteousness)...
DOES NOT believe the truth
Notice that it doesn’t say - “in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but instead believed a lie.
it doesn’t hold up - THIS BELIEF - against - THAT BELIEF
It holds up BELIEF - up against - AFFECTION*
And so we see the Bible CONDEMNS the LOVE of sin...
because to DO SO is to NOT believe the truth...
OK, last one...
SLIDE: LOVE NOT - other Gods
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
So the WISDOM of the WORLD says - the PHYSICAL is WORTHY of worship....
And HOW does that play itself out within these walls?
Of course…just like anywhere else - We worship and pursue what’s been created...
fame / status
See these are dangers, but it also goes deeper than this...
To pursue Money is to PURSUE SECURITY - outside of God
To pursue/elevate men/women above God - is to PURSUE HOPE - outside of God
To pursue FAME or status is to PURSUE GLORY for SELF
To pursue Worldly COMFORT is to ABUSE God’s GRACE - how so?
It’s BY GRACE we are saved.....HOW does Salvation come?
by the CROSS of Christ
And Christ Himself tells us - PICK up your CROSS daily!
to NEGLECT this is to neglect ETERNAL LIFE…unworthy of BEING His disciple…!
And so - to Pursue Worldly comfort is to ABUSE that which saved us - God’s GRACE…and to PURSUE death itself...
Worldly comfort makes a horrible god
And anytime that’s a reality - anytime we find ourselves BOWING down to a FALSE idol - another god
it’s blasphemy…and called EVIL in scripture...
And so as we can see - OUR LOVE can be MISDIRECTED!
the Bible says:
On the flip side - Jesus says this:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
We read this verse, over and over again, and we see a call for us to love our fellow church member...
true…but it’s deeper than that!
IN Ephesians chapter 2 we see the PERFECT STORM for strife and conflict...
The Jewish Nation...and the Gentiles (2 sides of a Perfect Storm)
The Jews looked down upon the Gentiles...in their minds they were pagan and inferior...
But what happens...IN CHRIST? Let's read it...
Ephesians 2:11–22 (ESV)
One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [between Jew and Gentile] 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two [Jew and Gentile], so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both [Jew and Gentile] to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you [Gentile] who were far off and peace to those who were near [Jew]. 18 For through him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [to the Jewish Nation], but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together [Jews and Gentiles], grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together [Jews and Gentiles] into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
And so where there was once HOSTILITY of the HIGHEST sort... ...The Blood of Christ now brings UNITY! - Fellowship
even between Jew and Gentile... NO LONGER STRANGERS...but fellow citizens!
And so when we read John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We read these words...the words of Christ....we see that the ' in these verses...'YOU' are to love one another...
We see that the 'YOU' is referring the Jews AND Gentiles....now together.
We see that BUILT into this NEW - BLOOD-COVERED FELLOWSHIP is a HISTORY of hostility....
Where there was once EXTREME hostility....there is now the CALL to LOVE ONE ANOTHER... WHY?
Because it says - By THIS love for one another, ALL PEOPLE will know that you are my disciples...
OUR Fellowship PROCLAIMS the Gospel of Christ...THAT's THE AIM...!
But that will ONLY happen if we understand all that is shared in Christ
See these are ALL things that we SHARE in Christ... KEY WORD - SHARE
We look at this list - and we know that it's CHRIST who offers...
HE offers US these things... BUT NOW... IN HIM...
We now OFFER these things! We REFLECT Christ to the world...by BEING like Christ
And so ELEVATE in your mind the REALITY of what FELLOWSHIP does...
It's mainly about taking the Gospel to the world... and a primary way we do that is to BE LIKE Jesus!!
And so AS Christians... ..we not only receive GRACE FROM Christ...but now IN CHRIST, we OFFER Grace....even when it's hard...
what is Grace? Undeserved favor... SO - when someone in this community WRONGS you...how are you called to respond? Answer - Grace / mercy
..we not only receive redemption from Christ....but now IN CHRIST, we OFFER redemption...to those in our faith community!
When someone WRONGS you - you don't hold a grudge, continue to remind them of it... You offer them REDEMPTION... BUT what if I'm the wrongdoer?
How do I OFFER redemption if I'm the wrongdoer? answer - repentance!
..we not only receive justification from Christ...but now IN CHRIST, we OFFER justification....to those in our faith community! -
..we not only receive forgiveness FROM Christ....but now IN CHRIST, we offer forgiveness...to those in our faith community! -
We're called to look at our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ...and VIEW them thru the lens of ALL THAT WE SHARE TOGETHER IN CHRIST! When someone wrongs you - you offer FORGIVENESS WHY?
Because that sin is ALREADY a FORGIVEN sin... And so we OFFER forgiveness
And DOING so will allow us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER the way that CHRIST LOVED US!
And when we do that....we'll be living out Phil 1:27 - in that...
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
and THIS RIGHT HERE WILL ONLY HAPPEN when we mimic Acts 2:42
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
The ONLY way that we'll ever STRIVE side-by-side for the faith of the gospel.... ...is if we DEVOTE ourselves...to each other - DISCIPLESHIP
The ONLY way we’ll ever display the LOVE of Christ to each other - is to DEVOTE ourselves TO EACH OTHER...
NOW - to close today, I want to look at a CERTAIN aspect of Christ’s LOVE...
As you know, we’re walk through this DISCIPLESHIP series…now asking the question - WHO AM I BECOMING?
We’ve seen today - the LOVE of Christ
BUT - How did Jesus teach his LOVE to his disciples?
Did they gather once a week and READ about it??
The answer REMINDS me of a movie that came out back in 1997...
Two guys wrote a Screenplay, and they ended up starring in the movie...
Good Will Hunting
Sean: [sitting on a bench in in front of a pond in park] Thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me... fell into a deep peaceful sleep, and haven't thought about you since. Do you know what occurred to me?
Sean: You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.
Will: Why thank you.
Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.
Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable.
You're an orphan right?
Sean: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist?
Now I LOVE this quote - because it points to the NEED for discipleship within Christianity~
And if we really consider how Jesus Himself taught the disciples…we see this.
How did Jesus teach the apostles about His love?
Did they gather together every Sunday in the upper room and read about it?
What we definitely know is this -
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Here we see Christ showing LOVE to this woman...
It’s one thing to talk about what LOVING like Christ looks like...
It’s another thing to actually do it...
According to the Law of Moses, this woman deserved to be stoned...
BUT Jesus wanted to take these Scribes and Pharisees and PLANT them on LOVE...
He wanted to DISPLAY His own LOVE…
HOW ELSE did He teach love...
18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”
So Jesus takes the apostles on a field trip, SO THAT they would be able to listen in on this conversation!
This is how Christ taught the apostles about what it means to LOVE Christ...
That it means to FORSAKE all...
So the apostles heard the RICH man’s arguments..up close and personal...
They EXPERIENCED this conversation...
This was Jesus - DISCIPLING the apostles!
And so relating it back to “Good Will Hunting” - Jesus wasn’t going to just sit down with the apostles and READ about the Sistene Chapel...
NO - He was gonna tell them - LET’S GO - we’re GOING to the Sistene Chapel!!
We’re going to LIVE this out…TOGETHER!!
And so what have we seen today?
We’ve seen that our LOVE can be MISDIRECTED!!
If our LOVE is aiming at these things…then we’re in SIN!
But we have a HIGHER calling!
A CALL to LOVE one another - AND we do that by displaying to the world the things that Christ purchased for us!! on the cross!
So that - If i find Grace IN CHRIST…then i must GIVE Grace...
If I find Forgiveness IN CHRIST - then i must FORGIVE....
THIS is what it means to LOVE like Jesus...
Let’s pray that His love would cause us to display it to those around us, and the world!