LOVE  Pt III

Ps Dermot Cottuli
9 June 2019

Excerpt

A man was driving through an Amish community in North America when he pulled up beside an elderly Amish gentleman and asked him a rather unusual question. Leaning out of his car window he called out, “Are you a Christian?”
To which the old man replied, “You’d have to ask my neighbour.”

Download PDF – Love Pt III

Love Pt III (Transcript)

Ps Dermot Cottuli – Grace Church Rokeby

A man was driving through an Amish community in North America when he pulled up beside an elderly Amish gentleman and asked him a rather unusual question. Leaning out of his car window he called out, “Are you a Christian?”
To which the old man replied, “You’d have to ask my neighbour.”

Last week we looked at what it means to be loved by God. It’s one of the most important messages you need hear and one that every one of us needs to grow in our understanding and experience of. If you missed the message I’ve uploaded it to our church website and you can read it at www.hobart.org.au.

This week we’re looking at OUR response to God’s love for us.

It’s not possible to experience God’s love personally and remain unchanged. The impact of God’s love always brings a response from us. Obviously the first response is the way we feel about Jesus Himself. Then the next thing is a desire to love Him in return through our actions. The big question is how do we demonstrate our love to Jesus who we can’t see, hear or touch with our physical bodies?

Fortunately Jesus didn’t leave us in the dark and made it very clear what he considered the greatest gift we could give to him.

The mission statement of Grace is “Loving everyone as we have been loved and teaching others to do the same.” The driver of that statement is taken from the great commission and John, chapters 13 to 15.

When Jesus was commissioning his disciples he told them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything he had commanded them.

A disciple therefore is someone who has committed their lives to Jesus and who obeys his commands. Which begs the question, what are his commands? Jesus being the brilliant teacher that he was summed up all of the teaching of the law and the prophets into two commandments. Love the Lord your God with everything you have and love your neighbour as yourself. Both of these commandments were taken from the Old Testament and would have been very familiar to his listeners.

Then in John 14 through 15 Jesus in his last conversation with his disciples very clearly tells them repeatedly, that if they loved him they would obey his commandments and then he gave them a new one that built on the first 2 most specifically on the love your neighbour as yourself commandment.

John 14:15

“If you love me, keep my commands.”

John 14:21

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”

John 14:23-24

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

John 15:9-10

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

John 15:12

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Now just before you start freaking out about Jesus’ love appearing conditional here, take a step back and ask yourself, in light of everything we heard last week, how should we be reading this?

How can Jesus show his love for us by dying for us when we were still sinners, before we did anything to deserve it, and then say if we don’t obey his commands we won’t remain in his love?

Is the bible contradicting itself?

Not at all. God never stops loving you, He can’t, it’s His nature to love. God never stops loving. What this passage is saying though is we can remove ourselves from the felt benefits of His love, much in the same way that a young person can remove themselves from their parents home. They’re still loved by their parents even though they’re not living with them and enjoying all of the benefits that come from living under their roof.

By obeying his commands we keep ourselves open and receptive to His love which is being poured out constantly on all of humankind. We stay aligned with him, we remain walking beside him. If you’re engaged in the same task as someone else you’ll obviously be aware of their company and the benefits that hanging out with them brings. The key to remaining under the influence of his love is loving others. Remember our key scripture?

1 John 4:16

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

It’s not rocket science when you think about it. By loving others it’s like I’m engaging in the same sport that Jesus is playing and I’m on his team. Therefore I’ll be much more aware of his presence than if I was out there competing on team selfishness.

At the start of his list of “if you love me you will obey my commandments and I will . . . “ Jesus had said to his disciples that the distinguishing hallmark of a disciple of his would be the love they had for the other disciples.

John 13:34-35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What a startling statement! He didn’t say “Everyone will know you are my disciples by the miracles you do!” Or “Everyone will know you are my disciples by your adherence to the Jewish law.” Or “Everyone will know you are my disciples by the moral stand you take, the number of tassels on your robes, the amount of the Torah you’ve memorised, the synagogue services you attend etc etc” No he said that other people would know they were his disciples by the love they displayed toward each other. And not a single one of his disciples disagreed with him when he said that. Not even Peter.

Which means that for each of the disciples, Jesus’ personal love for them was the most significant factor in their devotion and relationship with him. The way he loved them was the stand-out defining mark of their time spent with him. Not their travels throughout Judea and camping out in the countryside, not their face-offs with religious leaders, not the hairy situations they found themselves in which nearly cost them their lives which Jesus had to rescue them from. It was Jesus’ love for each of them personally which left an indelible mark on all their hearts and was seen by everyone observing Jesus and his friends.

Wow! And this is what Jesus wants us to pursue.

And it has nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with action. It’s all about the way we treat others. It’s the greatest challenge we’ll face in life and the only thing we’ll be judged on, both here on earth and in eternity. It’s the difference between living a life that pleases God and living a life that completely misses the mark.

It starts with the people around you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your school mates, your work colleagues, the shop assistants you purchase your food from, your facebook and instagram friends. Every person you interact with is an opportunity for you to love others as Jesus has loved you.

This type of love steps over boundaries created by racism and selfishness and seeks to lift up the poor and the oppressed. It’s willing to sit with the ostracised and to touch the unlcean. One of the most powerful story arcs woven throughout the gospels was how quick Jesus was to touch the untouchables, to speak to those society considered cast off and of no value, to embrace the broken, the destitute and the morally bankrupt, those who had no hope in the society of their day. He constantly looked for ways to step outside of his closed and insular Jewish world and love everyone he came in contact with. Even when others disagreed with him. And he calls us to do the same. To join him on his crusade. Not a military crusade but a crusade to bring the love of the Father to the world. Jesus came to die for us but he also came to show us something. He came to show us how much the Father loves us.

Have you ever wondered what the hallmark of a mature christian is? How can you tell if a person has a close relationship with God? Better yet, how do you know if your relationship with God is a close and a growing one?

It’s actually quite simple to work out.

1 John 4:7-8, 16-17, 21-22

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

This next week you’ll have countless opportunities to love others. The question you should be asking yourself before you open your mouth, before you act is “What would love do?” Notice I didn’t say, “What would Jesus do?” Why not? Sadly history tells us that people are capable of doing the cruellest of things all in the name of religion, all in the name of their God. Humans have an incredible faculty for twisting the truth and justifying their actions. And if we can stick Jesus’ name to it or find an obscure scripture to back us up, even better. But it’s hard to do that when we’re seeking to love others. When love is our primary goal and not point scoring.

You’re going to need God’s help to love others this week because at times you may not want to so we’re going to pray for you right now.