Connection


Note: The following is adapted from a sermon I gave in Wiston Sask on Valentine’s Day 2010.

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”– Luke 10:30-37

The opposite of love is selfishness, the idea that it’s me vs. the world. No one can be totally self-sufficient, because in the end we all rely on others. The world tries to tell us that people will let you down and so it should be everyman for him self.

However it is self-defeating to alienate those around us. At one point or another we will need the help of another human being.

I recently went to Bakersfield California where there is a high homeless population, talking to many individuals I found that the reason for many of their homelessness is they have no one to support them and help them. One man has been homeless since the early eighties, he told me he came from New York to take care of his dying mother, when she passed away he had no money to get home and no friends or family to help him get home. Another gentleman had a full scholarship, academic as well as for basketball, at a New Orleans university when the hurricane hit. He was left without house or home and the university he attended was destroyed. The government put him on a bus to Bakersfield, well when he arrived the told him all the shelters were full and they had no room for him. He was homeless, without friend or family for help, not only that but he was without a birth certificate so he was unable to get aid. It was just this year that FLOOD (the organization I was working with) was able to help him finally get a birth certificate. So we all need help from time to time.

The true way to live is to affirm others, to love those around us, help one another and receive help. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 5:43-48-

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

The question we must ask is how do we as Christians truly love one another?

The first step is closeness with God.

1 John 1:6 and 7 says: So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin

and 1 John 5:1-5: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

As Christians to love those around us we must first be in good relationship with Christ. All throughout 1 John we see the author talking about living in the light. That is living in Gods truth, living a life where our actions and character are in step with the life God desires for us, which is righteous living. These will bring us closer to Christ.

If we are living in the light of Gods presence, walking in his ways, following his words, worshiping him in all we do then we are in a place where we can truly grow closer to another person and truly love them.
Jesus Christ is the connector; Love is the person and transforming power of Christ Jesus.

All Relationships, all love must be built on our relationship with Christ Jesus.

I find that we as Christians have an easier time showing love to people we see as moral and upright, or more accurately people we get along with and agree with. What about those who we see as our enemies? We often have a hard time with those!

What about the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the homosexuals, the adulators, the thieves, those who hate the church? We are not called to love their sin, however let us not forget we were once sinners not unlike them, until a God of Grace called us to be in relationship with Christ Jesus!

Ephesians 6:12 says: For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

We must love everyone; we must say yes to love all people. Not being indifferent, not in careless friendliness, not blindly accepting their beliefs and practices but accepting them as lost people that Christ loves.

Do we as Christians identify our selves by what we deny? If I call my self a Christian merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Christian: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it! For we have been given a Holy Spirit of Love. We have been given a faith of love. The whole world is our neighbors so we should love each person individually as Gods unique and special creation.

1 John 3: 14-16 says If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Christ died for us while we were still sinners; we are to be Christ’s representatives here on earth. When we love it shows that we have passed from death to life. We are to give of our selves sacrificially. Sacrificial love should be a sign that we are saved.

What does this mean? Remember the story of the Good Samaritan. He was of a different people group, a different religion than the orthodox Jews. He gave of his time, he gave of his money! He sacrificed those things to love someone he didn’t even know.

When I was doing Missionary work in the Philippians, I met many homosexual men. The majority of young men in the Philippians are homosexuals, due to the previous generations mistakes. The fathers of the previous generation have neglected their role as father and provider for their family. Most have left their wives to raise children on their own, or get involved in illegal activity and neglect raising their boys to be men. Because of this young boys she their mothers and being the strong role model in their family unit, so they admire and want to be like their mothers. As a result they seen females as the stronger sex and want to be female and so they grow sexual confused and participate in a homosexual life style, many dressing like women in their daily lives.

We went out for supper with a group of young people, girls and guys and most of the guys were homosexuals. How did we treat them, we laughed with them, we talked with them, we shared our faith with them. We didn’t treat them any different. They are still made by God and are still loved by Jesus. He died for them the same as he died for us.

I find it so heart breaking when Christians fall away from the path God has for them. What are we going to do when a Christian we know goes back to drugs, or commits adultery? We must still love them.

1 John 5:16-17 – If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.
We must lift them up in prayer! Lay hands on them and pray for them in love, not keep them at a distance and yell unclean like they did to the lepers in Jesus’ day. We should try to help our brothers and sisters who fall short. Help get them back on track, into a recovery program, consoling. In verse 16 it says God will give that person life! What a wonderful thing. Do we believe God can restore people? I believe it, because he has restored me, He keeps restoring me in his amazing grace.

1 John 3:10 – So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.

The verse says if we do not love we do not belong to God.
We must love!
We must be in relationship with Christ so we can Love.
We must ask Jesus to give us a heart of love for all people!

1 John 3:17-19 –If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
We must give of our selves, our resources; meeting people’s practical needs with action. That’s the way we are called to love!
Giving of our selves.

We must pray for our enemies.
We must pray and support our fellow Christians who have lost their way.

1 John 4:7- 20-
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 showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his 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. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, 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 Christian brothers and sisters.

and so I pray:

Lord Jesus, give us your love, your perfect love. You are with us always, so we have seen your love. Graft that love to our bones, to our very being Lord Jesus. Help us Lord God to come to you humbly and bow low before you in worship, asking to know you better. Grant us our desire, make us more like you and as a result help us to love more like you. Take away our pride Lord Jesus, or self-righteousness, we are saved by your grace, by your blood, nothing we did, but what you did. Remind us dear Lord of your sacrifice and help us to remember we were once lost. Give us a heart for real evangelisms, a real heart for the lost. Also Lord give us a heart for our brothers and sisters who have lost their way, who have forgotten their identity comes from you Jesus. Help us to be gracious and loving but honest Lord God, not avoiding their sin but encouraging them to tackle it head on by giving it to you and walking forward with you Lord Jesus. Open their hearts Lord Jesus to your correction and conviction of your Holy Spirit. Lord give us strength and protect us against the onslaught of the enemy. Unite us as a church and as believers. Bless and keep us this week, we pray these things in the name of Jesus
Amen.

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