Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where is the Love?

In the fourth night of his series, "The Call", Johnson Bowie reviews our highest calling as Christians Matt 28:19-20

Week 1: Becoming a Disciple
Week 2: GO and make Disciples
Week 3: Making a Disciple through other Disciples

"The thing that's going to enable you to do this on a day to day love." Yesterday, Johnson had a Beef'N Cheddar at Arby's and, on his way out of the restaurant, a guy pulls his car over in the parking lot and looks under the hood. So, Johnson went over to help out. Even though Johnson "is the worst person to ask about cars", it just so happened that Johnson had experienced a leak in his radiator the year before and knew how to advise him on his problem.

"He said something that froze me in my tracks...he said, 'you know, there just aren't people like you anymore.'" Johnson recalls, "It wasn't like I saved his daughter or anything...Why don't people like that exist anymore?....People who just do nice things?...I think we have this wrong idea of Jesus...Jesus made water into wine...doesn't this say something about Him?...He's about loving people."

In John 13:34 Jesus says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Why did He say "a new command"? This wasn't new!! Look in Leviticus 19:18 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."

Remember the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to get into heaven? Jesus told him to love his neighbor. The ruler said that he already did that.

The reason this was a NEW command was because Jesus was telling us to love as He has loved us. He was commanding us to love the world with Agape love or love that is self sacrificing. But we just don't do this, do we? We don't allow our love for others to push us to do something like sharing His love and His service. We have to choose to love.

"How many of you know people who just don't deserve to be loved?...But the truth is that, many times, it is us who don't deserve to be loved." Our love for people is a true reflection of how much we love God. An atheist can say they love God. But Jesus says the way we love people is the way we love God. "I get the impression that Jesus wouldn't pull up in His apartment complex, say 'Yo, what's up' and then go inside and play video games." Jesus would get involved in the lives of and interact with His neighbors. He would love them.

The other reason this was a new command is because it is a badge of discipleship. Jesus basically said that others would know we are disciples by the way we love others. "Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love...that's a song, but it's true!" We're not Christians because we go to church twice a week or because we take part in Community Groups. These things are supposed to do something in us that compels us to go out into the world and to love others.

In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus knew what he was about to say, but He also knew that no one would like what they heard. He knew He was about to rock their world. He said that this is what it means to love others as He has loved us:

Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.

Pray for those who hurt you.

Bless those who curse us.

If someone slaps you on one cheek offer the other cheek also.

If someone demands your coat, offer him your shirt also.

Give to anyone who asks.

When things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back.

"What? Jesus obviously didn't have anything valuable!" jokes Johnson. Scriptures are kind of like a flashlight that shines on the darkest part of our lives. This is an area that is absolutely necessary to demonstrate our Christian walk.

Jesus didn't really standout. There was nothing that told people he was the King of the Universe. People knew who He was because of how He loved people. "It's not that we don't know what we are supposed to do...the problem is, we know exactly what we are supposed to do, we just don't do we fill up our schedules so we don't have to do it..."

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. 'Oh my God', you will say, 'if I do that, my whole life will be ruined. How would I get on in the world? Yes, it is dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.'" Svorin Turkegarde

If we sit down and really start reading the words of Jesus, it would truly change our lives. But we find so many excuses to avoid what it is we know to do. We have to start loving each other.

Johnson has kids and, when he puts his son Jeremiah down to bed, he'll rub his head, then Jeremiah will start rubbing Johnson's head. Johnson will grab his son's hand and his son will then rub his. If Johnson spikes his hair, his son will spike his too. If Johnson says something over and over again, his son will too.

"We went on an "adventure" in our neighborhood...I put on some old ratty camo pants to go down there...he went and put on his Cammie's too...On Monday we were playing tee ball in the neighborhood...I took off my flip flops and when my son noticed I wasn't wearing mine...he ran over to take off his flip flops too...when I hug him, I rub his back and I noticed that when he hugs his friends, he rubs their backs.'" Johnson has simply shown Jeremiah how to love. Jeremiah then imitates him.

This is the same kind of way our Heavenly Father has shown us to love others. If we read the scriptures and learn to accept His love, we can then love others.

"With the guy in the Arby's parking lot, why did I do that?...was it because I have a God who will leave the other 99 to look for the 1...and I know that many times, I have been that 1?...I have held up a sign that says, 'Stay away from me' just so I won't ...I've been the 1 who He came and brought back to restore me..If I can play that role in someone else's life, it would be worth it...That's why I walk around the Home Depot parking lot putting up carts...nobody does that anymore." But Jesus loves us so much more than this! If the love inside of us never finds a way out, then it is useless. What good is our faith, then, in this world?

There's two types of people: 1) Those who say they love people. 2) Those who say they love people and do something about it. We have this idea that Jesus' love for people is just about serving.

1 Corinthians 13 defines love for us: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This scripture says we have to love with the love of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inside of Jesus connected with people as He loved them. If we don't have the Holy Spirit inside of us, we will just sit back.

Acts 1:8 says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." The Holy Spirit gave the disciples power, but it also gave them courage to act out the love that was already inside them. The Holy Spirit will cause us to do things we never thought we could do.

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