Saturday, January 31, 2009

Unattractive Gospel 3

The Unattractive Gospel 3 – Love 1 John 2:1-14
Think about it:

A man, a Duke, on a cold, looks out of his window on a cold, snowing winters night and sees a poor man struggling out in the cold snow, looking for firewood. So the Duke goes out of his warm castle, into the cold outside and and goes up to the poor man. The poor man is struggling to stay alive because of the cold - but the Duke told him to follow in his footsteps and he would find those places a little less cold – thus easier to walk in. So the poor man followed the Duke back to the castle where he was given food, shelter and most importantly warmth.

A solider stationed in a POW camp during the Vietnam War who has been physically beaten repeatedly on a number of occasions, one night has his painful rope bindings loosened by his captor.

An innocent man, willingly taking the execution that another deserved, so that the other may have life.

All three are great stories, stories that inspire, storeis of true love. As we come to the end of our three week look at what I have called the “unattractive gospel” we are coming to look at the aspect of LOVE.

Over the last two weeks we have looked at how if we claim to be Christians, that is followers of Jesus and having Jesus the number one in our lives it is no good just saying it, but we need to live it our as well. In week one we looked at how we need to have the same attitude as Christ had, a selfless attitude putting others first, and last week we looked at the need to be forgiving. Just as we have been forgiven by God through Jesus we need to be forgiving. And this week we are looking at how we need to love which binds it all together.

Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If we look back at the three stories we were just thinking about, in the first two stories the motivation for the men to show great acts of love and mercy their love for God and wanting to live His way. The first story was the story behind the famous Christmas Carol – Good King Wencelas. Wencelas, because of his desire to follow Jesus' life riskeds his own life to go out into the cold winters night to save the life of a poor man he saw.

The second story – the POW was former US presidential candidate John McCain. During the Vietnam War McCain, ann officer in the US army became a POW where he was treated harshly, being beaten on many many occassions. But one night one of the guards guarding him loosened the ropes that were holding him. The next time that the guard saw McCain, which happened to be on Christmas Day, the guard drew in the dirt a picture of corss to show that he was a Christian, and that linving and Loving like Jesus was what drove him.

And the third story – well that is the ultimate love story in my book. That Jesus – who in both the eyes of the Roman officials of the day and more importantly in the eyes of God was 100% completely innocent – never sinned at all, completely perfect – would give up is life so that everyone else can live. He gave up his life on the cross to take away the punishment that everyone deserves because of their sins – their ignoring God, their disobeying God. But Jesus didn't stay dead – he rose again to life, life forever!

And it is because of Jesus' great love for us, because cause God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life(John 3:16), that is why John writes with such confidence the first two verses that we read today on page 1371. 1 John 2:1&2 1 I am writing this to you, my children so that you will not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf – Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone.

John has that confidence, the confidence that we all can have, that Jesus has not only died to take away our sins and rose from death, but Jesus, the RIGHTEOUS ONE, also pleads on our behalf with the Father so that we may be forgiven from our sin debt. And it is the same confidence that we all can have, and should have. Yes we should be living sinless, perfect lives for God, but we don't always do that – BUT through Jesus we have a way of forgiveness. It is through our faith in Jesus as the Song of God, the Lord of all that we can have our sins forgiven.

If we can also say with the same confidence as John that we have our sins forgiven through Jesus and if we can say with complete confidence that Jesus is pleading on our behalf, and if we say we live in Jesus – what does that actually look like? It is all good and fair to stand up and boldly say those things, but what does it practically look like?

The second half of verse 5 and verse 6 This is how we can be sure that we are in union with God: 6 if we say that we remain in union with God, we should live just as Jesus Christ did. Yes that is right we - who claim to be joined into new Life with God need to live as Jesus did. That doesn't meant that we all need to become travelling preachers in the way Jesus was, doesn't mean that we all need grow a beard, grow our heair long, and wear a tunic and sandles everywhere – NO – it means we need to share in the same attitude as Jesus – Sharing in his forgivness and Sharing his LOVE.

Last we looked at how sharing in the Forgiveness from Jesus also means that being a FORGIVEN person means that we need to FORGIVING PEOPLE. It may be that we find a little bit easier to forgive those who are close to us, and that we care deeply about, say friends and family, especially when they do stupid little things that annoy us – but if we truly are FORGIVEN people thus FORGIVING PEOPLE we need to be forgiving everyone just us we have been forgiven by God. And that isn't easy at all.

Maybe you are thinking the whole Loving thing is a lot easier. You know what Jesus loves me! God loves me! That is why Jesus came to die for us, and yeah for sure I love Jesus! I like to come to church, I like praying, I like to sing praise songs to Jesus – wow that stuff is so awesome and that is how I show Jesus that I love him.

But that isn't really the way we truly show that we love Jesus. It isn't the real way fo showiing love. Verse 9 If we say that we are in the light, yet hate others, we are in the darkness to this very hour. 10 If we love others, we live in the light, and so there is nothing in us that will make someone else sin. 11 But the if we hate others, we are in the darkness; we walk in it and do not know where we are going. Because the darkness has made us blind. If we truly love – and love in the way Jesus loves not some fuzzy feeling – we love everyone. John rights that if we say that we are folling Jesus – living in the light, yet we still hate people we are actually still living in the darkness. That means we got to be loving to all people.

As John wrote if we are in God we got to live as Jesus did, and Jesus didn't just share his love with only those who were friendly to him, or those that liked him – no he showed his love to the whole world. When he lived on earth he didn't just help out his mates, but he cross the boundaries. And when he showed his love for us – all of humankind – in his ultimate act of love, dying on the cross – he died for the sins of the whole world. His love went out to everyone.

And right through out the New Testement we are told by the leaders fo the early chruch, who are just really echoing the words of Jesus, that we too need to be lving out loving lives. And that means not just loving our friends or our family, but also we need to be loving even to those who hate us, those who are our enemies and try to bring us down. Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Duke Wencelas did that. True the poor peasent man who he helped out probaly wasn't his enemy. But he was nothing to the Duke – he was just a poor man and there were probably plenty of them around, but the Duke showed Christ love to him. Or the Vietnamese POW guard. McCain was his enemy, his was at war with him, but he showed him love. He loosened his ropes, he showed love in a place where humanly you would not expect to see such love. But through God's mercy and grace we too can be shining examples of Jesus' love in any situation.

Jesus himself provided us with the challenge – who do we show our love to?
Lets look at Matthew 25 starting at verse 31
Mt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Mt 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
Mt 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Mt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
Mt 25:44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
Mt 25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

That is the challenge – we if we say we are living for Jesus NEED TO LIVE IT OUT!

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