October 9, 2016
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
The Body of Christ…?
“Love Them Like Jesus”
Who Do You Love…
Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…
I would ask you to rise, as you are able, for the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, verses 34-40…listen to the word from God for you and me, the people of God.
Who in your life do you love? Why do you love them? Do you think they love you back? Why? Now here is a tough question for you…is there anyone who just doesn’t rate on your “love meter”? You know…those people who you can find nothing within them to love. And it may not even be a person you know. It may even be a group of people…race, religion, color, body type, nationality…fill in the blank.
The world in which we live in has really over used the word “love.” We say we love our family, we love our friends, we love our church. But we also say things like we love our car, we love this song, we love food, we love cheesecake…you get the jest of what I am saying. Now I don’t know about you but I do not love my car the same way I love my children or husband…I do not love cheesecake as much as I love my friends…ok at times that may be true…but usually not.
Now we have said that God is the one who defines family. What about love? Do we believe that God defines love? And if so, do we go by God’s definition or our own? Now remember as you think about…ponder this statement…God loves you and I so much that He thinks we are to die for… As a matter of fact…that is exactly what He did…die for sinners like us…He who knew no sin took our sin upon Himself… Now that’s a love story…
We have been trying to define…trying to open our view of…the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I really define “family?” But we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who really defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.” We have come to the realization that in order to become community in the world…in order to continue to be relevant we, as Christ’s followers, need to wake up. Wake from our slumber…wake from our complacency…wake from our numbness and see the world and people around us who are looking for someone to reach out in love, hope and compassion. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Crist followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ. We are called to love one another. We are called to look into the eyes of those in need and help fill that need…
But what are we willing to do to be the hands and feet…to have those open doors. We as United Methodist claim “Open hearts, open minds and open doors”, do we really fulfill that claim or does it look much different than that? We claim we “Follow Jesus Christ, by Making Disciples, For the transformation of the world”, how are we doing with all of that? And it is not just us. It is we as Christ followers…those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior…
In the Matthew scripture I read this morning, the leaders of the synagogue got together to question Jesus. I think that His answer is something we as His followers should really ponder upon. It seems as if we have forgotten who should be at the top of our love meter…
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So if we love God and other we would be able to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets. This a truth of God’s word. If we love God and others we won’t do anything to sin against them. So very simple but we just can’t do it…thank you God that you sent Jesus to do what I couldn’t.
Ok…so who are our neighbors? I am glad you asked that…let’s see wat God says about that in His word. Let’s turn to Luke 10 verses 25-37:
Luke 10:25-37New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Go and do likewise…anyone…anywhere…anytime…who ever we see on the streets…on the television…etc.…is our neighbor. Ok…people of ISIS…are they our neighbor? God says yes they are but…do we have to agree with what they are doing? No…how can we help them as our neighbor? Pray…pray…and pray again… This is the hard part of loving others. Even when they do evil…we are to still love them…not what they do.
Ray and I were talking about this yesterday. We…as humanity…more times than not…don’t even love ourselves. We feel we are worthless or whatever other reason there may be not to love ourselves. So how are we to love others as ourselves if we don’t even love ourselves? We have no gage…no rule…to go by. We just simply don’t know how to truly love.
We figured this…now I think this is an important statement in order to learn to love others. In John 13:34-35, Jesus give us a new command:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We have that litmus test…we now have the rule we need. It has nothing really to do with us but everything to do with Jesus. We are to love as Jesus did and does. We no longer go by love others as yourself but to love one another as Jesus did and does. Jesus had to come and show us because we cannot do it on our own. We can’t pray for our enemies…we can’t unconditional love others…we can’t Fill in the blank…but in and through Jesus Christ we can. I can, you can,we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us…
So questions posed earlier:
v Who in your life do you love? Well we will each answer that differently but we usually love our family and friends…and food of course…
v Why do you love them? Usually it is because they love us back. Also because of how they treat us…take care of us…make sure nothing bad happens…
v Do you think they love you back? Why? We usually will answer yes to that because of how they show their love to us…in various ways…
v Is there anyone who just doesn’t rate on your “love meter”? Chances are…at some point in time…there will be people who may be hard to love in our lives…then again we too may be a “hard to love” person to someone else…
v What would it take for you to love like Jesus did and does? That’s a question that only you can answer but remember…we are to die for in our Fathers eyes…
OK…synopsis…As we open our hearts and our doors to those who are on the outside we become family. As we become family we can work together as the body of Christ…as a family of believers who reach out to those who are looking for someone to grab their hand to pull them out of the vortex they are in. As we come together the word Ohana becomes our battle cry because no one is left out or left behind. As we help others our focus is changed and we begin to think “we” instead of “me”. We begin to see a change happen within our communities when we begin to define…to specify what really matters. As we look into the eyes of others and come up next to them and help them in their need, we will model what Jesus did for you and me. As we open our hands and our doors we begin to create a better world not only for ourselves but in our community…our surrounding communities…and the world. We need to work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body… Then and only then, we will become one as we do all of this in the name the One who is head and shoulders above the rest…who is the head of the church, our hearts and our minds…our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…
What is it going to take for you…for me…for us as Christ followers to love as He did and does? Are you willing to learn to love yourself and in turn love others? If we are so unlovable, why would the Creator of the universe, the same One who created you and me, care enough to send His very best…His own Son so that we could be saved from sin and grafted into the family of God? Why?