Love One Another
So we pray before we get started this morning. I thank you for our opportunity. Come here and worship you this morning. Thank you for this new year new beginnings and just be with us as we hear the words of love one another for Mike and pray that you will get us listening ears and Open Hearts to hear the message you'd given through him and I named him in.
in the song I think it's on.
Sometimes my secretary who shall remain remain named Angie.
What's commentary in the Proclaim that you see up here in anticipation of me putting the notes in the sermon and I open up this morning and it said love one another. I think it said it's not an option. I think is the commentary that she put in there or it's not a suggestion. That's what it was. Remind me of a cartoon that I'd seen before years ago of the peanuts, you know is Snoopy & Charlie Brown. It's Christmas time and Lucy comes in where Charlie Brown is standing and says in the way that only Lucy can say Merry Christmas Charlie Brown tis. The season of peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men. Therefore. I suggest we forget all of our different since and love one another Charlie Brown whose face lights up says this he says, it's wonderful Lucy. Do we have to love each other only at this season of the year? Why can't we love each other all year long Lucy's response. What are you up for an attic or something?
Sometimes I wonder if we look at this idea of loving one another kind of in that context and I think the last year a couple years is a congregation we've been talking about and thinking about what it means to be the church and particularly the church in a world where God is working and moving and their different ways that we can go about this and sometimes unfortunately throughout history The Church has a way of a kind of looking inward it and thinking about protecting ourselves having that that protectionism mentality that that we have to guard ourselves from that which is in the world. And so then it's all about a matter of Aveeno kind of going out of the world in such a way that were very very cautious. Now, it's important to be cautious in the world. There's a lot of danger Dangerous things out there a lot of things that are are seeking to to draw so if you will away from the truth in the love of Christ But how do we manage this tension that rises up whether we become an inward Focus Church or an outward Focus Church. I think in truth when we focus on either one of these in a way it begins to neglect the other or if we just focus on one we can do that. We become neglectful of the other we can't do either be in work focused well or to be at work Focus. Well unless we're really doing both of them at the same time. So let me put it this way. It's not about balancing our responsibility to one another in the church and our call to reach the Lost instead. I think we need to develop an understanding and a culture where one is it becomes an expression of the other. I think a good example of this is something that we talked about two years ago. They're gone. Now it just just in the last couple of months simply because the sticky things that we use to hang them on the wall kept falling down, but you member the banners We had the nine Arts of of spiritual conversation ways to engage others who look at that God or at life spirituality completely different not from a Biblical worldview those nine Arts really invited us to think about how God is already gifted us the gifts that the abilities the things that we already know and do so well together but to do it in relationship to those who may be don't see or understand its don't we learn to notice others around us? We know that we learn to pray specifically for those that that God brings to our attention that we've noticed we learn to listen well to them listening to their heart. So to speak to ask questions, then in order to learn more about their spiritual journey, or maybe the questions that they're struggling and facing. Then we learn to love them as Christ loves them to welcome them into our lives and into our homes to help create opportunities for them to learn more about God's love and the fullness of his word and then to serve together with them and then finally to share our faith with them. So it's kind of a quick recap of those nine Arts. If you remember the key is learning to be Christ word focused and everything that we do Jesus captured the seamless relationship between Mission and Ministry in John 13:35 and went to talk about John 13 here these last few verses today. He said by this all men will know that you are my disciples. if you love or have love for one another it's our Focus for 2019 is to consider how are care for one? Another within congregational life will help us to expand the Kingdom of Heaven in a broken world to do this by reflecting Christ Light. So to respond to God's call we must be equipped and prepared to care for everyone that God brings into our lives those within the family of God is knows as well as those that God is drawing unto himself and somebody kick off the theme for this new year by this all men will know we've got the little sign here. It's out front reflecting Christ live in or light in a dark world. So thank you Mattias twofer. I'm putting that together for us. The first point kind of sums up our direction for the year. If you have your bulletin outline, it'll be up on the screen God's love is expressed to all people. We could have heard a little bit of that in the opening video this understanding but God truly does love everyone and to be the church. We are called to love is he loved which draws us than out of self and into the lives of other people if we think about our relationship with God and stop and only self I don't know that we ever experience the reality of the fullness of God's love because it's just a matter of making sure that I've Got My Ticket To Heaven Then have we truly known the essence of who God is in. This is part of what we're going to get out here in a few moments as we look at Jesus's words, but even before that we look here at the 1st John 3, very familiar passage between we talk about love in the light of the church and in the light of the body of Christ John says do not be surprised brother missed the world hate you we know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brother he who does not love abides in death everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this that he mean Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brother.
in our world today, it seems like there is an emphasis in a push on trying to determine what the most or the lowest common denominator is in order to make sure that nobody feels left out that nobody feels excluded. But when we look to the scriptures the opposite seems to happen God who is perfect comes to Earth and says, you know, we're going to set the standard here. I can't quite reach that high. And the expectation is that you will meet the standard. The first I might seem quite unfair right? I mean who can be perfect. None of us, but then we understand the reality of God's love because the gospel becomes so true that through Christ we are able to be perfected. The how does this become evidenced in our living? How is this evidence in our life? Is it just worrying about my own salvation or does it mean then that I begin to see a change in my life so that I start to love others as Christ loves them. And part. I think that's what John is getting at in 1st John this invitation that there must be a level of sacrifice in our own lives for the sake of others to hear and know and begin to experience the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus sets the standard the example that we are to follow Aristide she was in early 2nd Century Church author Pastor. They let me backup. Aristide was not an early church father. He was an author in the early 2nd Century and he says this about the church the Christians. He says they Christians love one another they do not Overlook the Widow and they save the orphan. He has Ministries ungrudgingly to him who does not have when they see strangers. They take him under their own roof and rejoice over him as a true brother for they do not call themselves Brothers according to the flesh but according to the soul. This is what the early people in the second century saw when they were talking about the church this morning in Sunday school to the discussion that we had was centered around. The question is Jesus really God? And they're there was an individual that it was a part of the video that we watched who was an artist and and he said this he said I can go into the back stages of place is an end visit with the different artists there whether they be musicians or dancers or actors and he says it's interesting. I can talk about Jesus and nobody nobody pushes back. Nobody gets offended about that, but people seem to get angry when I talk about the church.
So what we had talked about that question, what what's the difference why it why is that and you know, I think we can all understand and recognize some of the issues. They're well, you know the idea of being hypocritical being overly judgmental or all of these different things that come up when we think about the church the bad experiences that people have had that we have had in the body of Christ because the reality is we're all sinful. We're all broken, right? That for me raised a very important question. I can recognize that reality and use that as a way to dismiss others who want to dismiss me. Well, they've got it wrong work if that's all as far they want to go that whatever it is, or I can hold that up more is a mirror. Look at my own self. And say Lord show me the areas where I have been hypocritical. In such a way that maybe has pushed others away from you. Show me in my own life those areas where maybe I have been judgmental of somebody else in such a way that is not allowed your love to come through.
See changes things around just a little bit. So my hope is that weekend using Lucy's take on things truly become Fanatics this year. Amen. Maybe I just this year, but from this time forward loving like Jesus love. So let's talk a little bit about that. The first third of the second point in the outline is this intimacy and honesty with God are Paramount to being included in his work in the world. Intimacy and honesty With God. All right, so we have to be close with him. We have to be honest. Okay. Now I think being honest with God includes being honest with herself, right? Cuz if it's going to happen we have to be honest. So let's remember where we're out here in John 13. Jesus has just washed the 12 disciples feet. the Passover meal And then an interesting thing happens, right Judas is there Judas is already set it in his mind. He's been Tempted By by Satan and then we understand that Satan actually entered into Judas. And then at this point, it's Jesus. It isn't you this is why I got to go now and do what I got to do Jesus dismisses, Judas. Right. It's time for you to go and do what you're going to do. And then reverse 34-31 therefore when he had gone out Jesus said now is the son of man glorified and God is glorified in him know the significance here of that therefore.
Now that he has dismissed Judas we can get to begin to talk about the more intimate things of God. Now that Judas isn't here now before this Judas was President. He was there for the Last Supper. He was present all the way up to this point in Jesus and reveal all kinds of things but it's not until Judas leaves that Jesus begins to get down to the brass tacks. If you will of what is about to happen. If we want to be loving as Christ loved then we must know Christ and his love I know this is a kind of obvious statement isn't what I'm talking about. Not just this head knowledge. I'm talking about a heart knowledge of a life-changing understanding of who God is in the depths of our being why because if we are always stuck at trying to experience the love of Christ for ourselves. Then we will never move beyond our self. You must settle it in your head and your heart that you are loved by the king of kings and Lord of lords. Do you know what I'm saying? If you're constantly working to earn Christ's love. When your focus is still on you, it's not on him. It's not I'm doing his will it's not on pleasing the father. It's making sure that I'm okay.
That puts your salvation in your hands. not in his she has made the way we need to receive this gift not being basing it on anything else that I can or can't do but instead based on the fullness of God's grace. And God's goodness.
You see Judas loved himself and he wasn't listening to the Lord. He already knew what he was supposed to do. Meaning. He wasn't willing to trust God's plan instead. He was going with his plan that he thought would Institute what was good enough. Jesus didn't reveal the fullness of his plan to Judas. He waited until he was gone. To the point is if you want to hear what God is calling you and us to do. Have to be intimate with the Lord for he only shares these intimate things these intimate workings with those who truly love him and listening. So be honest be honest with yourself as he speaks to you because he's going to most likely start with you first in that process of transformation. It's kind of counterintuitive. I want to be thinking so much about ourselves, but at the same time God has to start with self to get it out of the way so that he can really begin to work through you. It's not that we are to be perfect before God will use us. Again. We know if that were the case then nothing could get done but we have to have a willingness to be transformed and changed to be made new every day. And then then God will include us in the process of inviting others along with that journey of transformation.
So what's the goal in this we see this through Jesus is worth. The next point is this the goal is to glorify God in all that we do. No, this next verse pay attention to it as I read this. Tiffany sticks out there for when he had gone out. Jesus said now is the son of man glorified and God is glorified in him. And God is glorified in him. God also glorify him and himself and will glorify him immediately. How many times do we see the word glorify our glorified in that Passage? 5 * Five times. I wonder if maybe we should pay attention to that. What is God? doing I can't help but think right now how in the right hands and with the right fluence influence of Master can make beautiful music with an instrument. Her story of years ago there was this master violinist in Europe and you'd play in concerts and he had a magnificent Stradivarius violin that was extremely expensive beautiful beautiful instrument violin and concerts and everyone Whisper In The Crowd listen to the beautiful sounds of the Stradivarius he play in churches people with same listen, listen to the beautiful sounds of the Stradivarius. Even play before kings and queens and they too would turn to one another and say you don't listen. Listen to the beautiful sounds the Stradivarius. All the glory went to the instrument. Then one day this master violinist was walking by a pawn shop and he noticed this old beat-up worn out violin. He walked in just how much for that violin. Pawn shop guy looked at in Houston at $5. So you pulled out $5 bill and gave it to him. It took that home. And Polished it up Kira find it a little bit he tuned it and then he returned it cuz it kept going out of tune. You put some character into that violin. Then came the day when he was supposed to play one of the greatest performances of his life. Instead of reaching in and grabbing the Stradivarius. He grab that $5 worn out beat up Old Violin. But he had polished and that he'd worked on. He put it up to his chin and he began to play. And everybody in the concert hall whispered. Listen to the beautiful sounds of the Stradivarius.
See Brothers and Sisters in Christ. That's what Jesus has with us. We look to others and think if I only could be as good or if I only had the gift that they had her if I only knew what they knew or if I only hit. Where's the focus? Are you looking to bring glory to self? where to God it's a matter of surrender.
It's a matter of of letting the father take what he created how he created it and begin to tune it and refine it to bring him glory.
Jesus is making it clear that what he is doing is showing the heart of God reflecting God's glory in the world and John 1:14 in the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory glory as of the only begotten from the father full of grace and truth.
Jesus is no broken down $5 violin that you and I are amen. And if we come to him with all openness and sincerity, he is the master that cleans ass up and prepares us to do his will and when we surrender to the will of the father we too can bring him glory This Is Our God given opportunity an invitation. So Jesus makes it clear to the disciples that he is to glorify God. Remember he's preparing them for his crucifixion. He must sacrifice himself and us the next Point Christ leads in love and shows us again this example that we are to follow Vs. 33 little children. I'm with you a little while longer. You will seek me and as I said to the Jews now, I also say to you where I'm going. You cannot come only Jesus can make the way but once the way is made. We're invited father. In John chapter 12 just before this Jesus says the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified truly truly. I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the Earth and dies it remains alone. But if it dies it Bears much fruit, he who loves his life loses it and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal if anyone hears me he must follow me and where I am there. My servant will be also if anyone serves me the father will honor him. So hear Jesus says you can't go or I'm going but then he says we're supposed to follow him. Now it may seem kind of confusing until we begin to understand that Jesus is making the way we cannot make the way only he can do that. But once he is made the way then we are to follow the way that he goes that his our invitation.
The next point the law of Love turns again our Focus from self to God and others. So are you able to love as Christ loved?
John 13:34 a new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved you that you also love one another. Now it says here a new commandment the translation here of new isn't like brand-spanking-new like something poop created new instead like a fresh understanding. It's a summary of the law of God. How do we know what we are supposed to do God's law is to be written on our hearts. What is a litmus test love in Jesus puts a very simply love for one another love God love your neighbor. And then he says even as I have loved you for Taurean in the second century reported the comments again of pagans in his day behold how these Christians love one another how they are ready to die for each other.
Anybody said that about you lately.
We live in a Christian Nation, right? Well, what is it mean for us to live in the way of Christ? Paul says in Galatians 5 for you were called to Freedom brother and only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one. Another for the whole law is fulfilled in one word in the statement. You shall love your neighbor as yourself, but if you buy it and devour one another take care of that you are not consumed by one another. The invitation is clear. The opportunity is sitting right next to you. And so the final point when the church expresses genuine love for each other. We become a beacon that illuminates a dark world and invite others to come safely to the shore of Salvation in Christ Jesus.
Verse 35 by this all men will know that you are my disciples. If you have love for one another remember in the opening remarks. I talked about the tension between being our Focus during work focused. Jesus doesn't even go there. He makes it very very plain. How does the world know that we are his disciples? It's by us loving each other the simple Act of caring for one another in the life of the body of Christ becomes that lights in a dark world making others know of price love and it has the opportunity to draw others into relationship because we love each other that love spills out in our daily lives our cup runneth over, right? Again 1st John 4:7 and 8. I was like you got to sing it, right? 1st John 4:7 and beloved. Let us love one. Another for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God the one who does not love does not know God for God is love. God's glory Portland ice and that's reflected into the church and then end of the world love love one another invite you to start with your neighbor. I mean like right now look to your neighbor and say I love you. Try it.
Okay, summer a little easier than others. I know. I hear they giggles.
As we see with Jesus's example love isn't easy. Amen. Love confronts. Love challenges love is centered in truth. Love can be very difficult. So as I speak of Love here, please. No, I'm not speaking of the whitewash rule a version of passion or simple affection or even just simple affirmation. I'm talking about that which is centered in the fullness of God's truth. God is loving Jesus is the fullest expression of that love and for us to be Earnest and loving like he loved then we must be Earnest and knowing him. There's a story about the Apostle John at the end of his life again. This isn't scriptural, please note but the story goes that the Apostle John was the pastor at the church there in Ephesus and at this point he was so old but he couldn't walk any longer. And so there were disciples around him that Sunday after Sunday would carry him in on a mat and set him down in the middle of the assembly in from this Matt. Then the Gap people would gather around and he would teach At one point he would just mutter the words beloved. Let us love one another. beloved let us love one. Another list went on for several months. And finally one of the elders said to him brother John. That's a great message. Don't you think that we could hear something else? Then the old Pastor John looked at him and said when we learn this lesson will move on to the next. What's playing?
He recognized that is the church. We are to reflect your glory in the world. First week, just confess how overwhelming that can be and feel.
We confess the reality of our own Brokenness and sin.
We can fast it maybe for some that can become such a heavy weight that it paralyzes us.
May your light shine into our lives and into our minds and into our hearts in such a way that we recognize.
That we are to reflect your image into the world.
We're not to have all the answers. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to know everything. We just have to know you. and your love
and then begin to seek you with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. And know that in that seeking we will find.
Lord help us to open our hearts door to you today. So that we can receive the fullness of Your Love. And no longer be centered on trying to learn it. But instead. Father help us to begin to understand what it means to direct it. Into a broken and falling while starting with each other or help us to love one another. As you have compelled us and called us to do. In Jesus name amen.