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Who do you love?

 

October 9, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

“Love Them Like Jesus”

Psalm 67

Matthew 22:34-40

Luke 10:25-37

John 13:34-35

 

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?

 

Amen

“Remember…”

November 1, 2015

All Saints Day

Stetson Memorial UMC

Hebrews 10:32-29 NIV

2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

http://www.churchyear.net/allsaints.html

 

“Remember…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

Hebrews 10:32-39

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,

“In just a little while,

    he who is coming will come

    and will not delay.”

38 And,

“But my righteous one will live by faith.

    And I take no pleasure

    in the one who shrinks back.”

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Today we celebrate All Saints Day. It is a day that we celebrate those saints among us and those who have gone before us. Now let me give you a little history about All Saint Day.

“It is when the Catholic Church and some Protestant churches commemorate every saint, known and unknown. The concept of All Saints Day is connected to the doctrine of The Communion of Saints. This is the concept that all of God’s people, on heaven, earth, and in the state of purification (called Purgatory in the West), are spiritually connected and united. In other words, Catholic and Orthodox Christians (and some Protestants) believe that the saints of God are just as alive as you and I, and are constantly interceding on our behalf.

 

Remember, our connection with the saints in heaven is one grounded in a tight-knit communion. The saints are not divine, nor omnipresent or omniscient. However, because of our common communion with and through Jesus Christ, our prayers are joined with the heavenly community of Christians.

 

 

Remembering and honoring the saints are beneficial practices, because to remember the heroes of the faith and follow their examples are good things. Many Christians seem to strongly oppose remembering and celebrating the lives of great Christian men and women, yet have no problem celebrating the lives of secular heroes like George Washington. All Saints Day is kind of like a Christian Memorial Day or Presidents Day, a day to celebrate the lives of all the great heroes of the Christian faith, and to celebrate the deep communion we have with them. While celebrating secular heroes is admirable, how much more admirable is celebrating those who fully dedicated their lives to Christ!”

 

Remembering is good. These are the ones who forged the road before us. Without them where would the church be? These are the ones who are “upstream” for us. As we learn from them we become the faithful saints of God. At this time we are now the ones who are upstream for those who are downstream looking for help along the way. We have become the Saints for those who are not even born yet as were some of those who believed before us. The Scripture from Hebrews I read tells us that we must remember and hold onto that passion and zeal we have for the Gospel of Grace. It is all in the remembering that we can gather strength to move forward for the kingdom of God. We become the light upstream for those who are in the dark downstream…

 

As I think about the saints that have gone ahead of me there is one thing…one theme so to speak that keeps popping up…God reuses the things that are broken to achieve His plan. God is the ultimate recycler. There is nothing that He can’t use.

 

It is within our brokenness that He is able to reform us into a thing of beauty. He reclaims us for a far better purpose than what we can imagine on our own. We all have brokenness within us, it all began in a garden before we were ever born. But God…in His infinite wisdom…when the time was right He made a way for us to have that relationship with Him that brings us from brokenness to wholeness.

 

Now things that are broken need to be fixed right? This includes you and me. But how do we go from brokenness to wholeness? OK…this is how I see it…

Each of us is created a precious vessel of God’s love. But somewhere along the way each of us has experienced hurt in some way, bringing a sense of brokenness. Now in order to begin that “recovery” process we need to realize that moving toward healing is to offer the gift of life and wholeness, not only for ourselves but also for others as we come to see each person as a Holy Vessel and as we come to desire that wholeness for all of creation.

2 Corinthians 4:7 states:

“7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

 

We have that treasure within us…we are the jars of clay that God, even though we are broken, still uses to show His glory through. Remember, even the saints before us were broken. God still used them to bring us to where we are today…

 

Today we celebrate the saints past, present and future. Even though broken, God still uses us to continue to be His light in the world. It is within our brokenness that God repurposes us to be whom He would have us be. Maybe as we realize this we can begin the road to healing and wholeness. Perhaps if we just remember what we have forgotten we would again be strengthened for the journey. We all have cracks and chips but I would rather be a cracked pot for God than anything else in the world…

 

Amen