Sunday, April 03, 2011
SPLASH Showing People Love And Sharing Him SPLASH 2 LOVE
“What do you want in life?” is one of our most basic and important questions. Some of us really don’t know. It isn’t that we are unwilling to try, it’s that we don’t know what we’re after. Some of us spend all of our lives chasing after money, career, power, relationships, sex or health in the hope that if we get what we’re chasing it will turn out to be what we really want. Our list is long but one “want” tops all lists. We all want love. Paul wrote about “Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).Mercedes Benz created a television ad showing one of their cars crashing into a concrete wall. The point is that they have a design that absorbs energy and saves lives in otherwise fatal car crashes. In the ad someone asks a Mercedes representative why the company doesn't use patent law to protect their design from being copied by other auto companies. He answers, "Because some things in life are too important not to share."
That's the way it is with the very good news of Jesus Christ. It's too important not to share.
There is one thing that no other religion, no other philosophy can offer that Christians can offer. And that is LOVE! Romans 5:5.. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
When children were asked what love is they gave some interesting and touching answers:
© “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
© “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
© “Love is when someone hurts you, and you get so mad, but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.”
© “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.”
© “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
© “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
© “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
© “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
© “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”
Jesus started out with a handful of followers. Today there are about two billion people around the world who call themselves Christians. How do you think that happened? The answer is obvious – Christians convinced unbelievers to follow Jesus. That's what Christians do. We tell others about God. We explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We send missionaries. We evangelize. To be a Christian is to act in ways that produce more Christians.
Evangelism is not about prospects, it is about people!
See People first! The question is not “what can they do for us?” but rather, “what Christ can do for them!”
JESUS SEES THE NEED AND POTENTIAL OF EVERYONE.
The Roman historian Tacitus wrote: "I am entering upon the history of a period rich in disaster, gloomy with wars, rent with seditions; nay savage in its very hours of peace. Four emperors perished by the sword; there were three civil wars; there were more with foreigners, and some had the character of both at once ... Rome wasted by fires; its oldest temples burned; the very capitol set in flames by Roman hands; the defilement of sacred rites; adultery in high places; the sea crowded with exiles; island rocks drenched with murder; yet wilder was the frenzy in Rome; nobility, wealth, the refusal of office, its acceptance, everything was a crime, and virtue was the surest way to ruin. Nor were the rewards of the informers less odious than their deeds. One found his spoils in a priesthood or a consulate; another in a provincial governorship, another behind the throne. All was one delirium of hate and terror; slaves were bribed to betray their masters, freedmen their patrons; and he who had no foe was betrayed by his friend." (Tacitus: Histories I, 2)
BUT THERE was something counter cultural about the Christians. Tertullian's "Apology", Chapter 39.7 (circa 200AD)
"Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other" (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).
“In the period following the Apostolic Age, there was an exuberant caring and sharing on the part of Christians that was unique in antiquity. Julian the apostate, an enemy of Christianity, admitted that “the godless Galileans fed not only their (poor) but ours also.” Tertullian wrote that the Christians’ deeds of love were so noble that the pagan world confessed in astonishment, “See how they love one another.’ Exactly what is it that these Christians did which elicited such a response from their enemies?
“There was, first of all, an exceptional freedom to care for the needs of one another in the believing community. The Didache admonished Christians: ‘Thou shalt not turn away from him that is in want, but thou shalt share all things with thy brother, and shalt not say that they are thine own.’ By A.D. 250 Christians in Rome were caring for some fifteen hundred needy people. In fact, their generosity was so profuse that Ignatius could say that they were ‘leading in love,’ and Bishop Dionysus of Corinth could note that they were sending ‘supplies to many churches in every city. . . . ‘ We gain a helpful glimpse into the caring Christian community from I Clement, ‘Let everyone be subject to his neighbor. . . . Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because He hath given him one by whom his needs may be supplied.’ Tertullian catalogued a long list of groups that were cared for by the Christian believers. . . .
“Christians also provided for those who lost their jobs because of their faith in Christ. It was assumed, for example, that an actor who became a Christian, and had to give up his profession because of its involvement in pagan mythology, would be cared for by the church. . . .
But their joyful sharing was not confined to Christians. . . . Bishop John Chrysostom witnessed: ‘ Every day the Church here feeds 3,000 people. besides this, the church daily helps provide food and clothes for prisoners, the hospitalized, pilgrims, cripples, churchmen and others. When epidemics broke out in Carthage and Alexandria, Christians rushed to aid all in need. . . . In fact, it was the way that in times of plague, when everyone else fled the city, that Christians became identified as the ones who would stay behind at the risk of their own loves to care for the sick and to take in those discarded by the road to die.
These Christians genuinely believed that God was the owner and giver of all good gifts. Their generosity was an imitation of God’s generosity. They were free from anxiety because they knew that tomorrow was in God’s hands. They lived in simplicity. Perhaps no one has capture the exuberant spirit of simple caring and sharing better than the Christian philosopher Aristides, whose words (written in A.D. 125) are so moving that they are best quoted in full:
They walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them, and they love one another. They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. He that hath distributeth liberally to him that hath not. If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof, and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother: for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God; but when one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them see him, they he provides for his burial according to his ability; and if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs. . . . And if there is among them a man that is needy and poor, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.”
Why did Christianity conquer the pagan world? Because God is love. And those who love are born of God and know God!
The reason we all have a deep need for love is because we were all created that way by God.
The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love is essential to who God is and what God does. God loves and God wants us to love him.
God created humans in his likeness and that included both the capacity for love and the desire for love. As fish were created for water and birds were created for air, so humans were created for love.
Whenever we lack love there is something missing in our lives. We feel hollow, incomplete and inadequate. We know something is missing even if we can’t quite point to what it is.
The Bible begins with a loving God creating a loving couple and putting them in a safe place called the Garden of Eden. It was a place without worries, threats, diseases or death. It was a place where Adam and Eve could be themselves and totally enjoy the love and goodness of God.
Eden was lost to sin and tragic choices. Ever since, we humans have had a deep yearning to go back—to be safe, to be whole, to be ourselves, to be secure in the love of God and one another. Some of us search for the satisfaction of this basic need in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. We make life worse rather than better. We just want to love and be loved. Deep inside we all want to be safe, appreciated, valued, touched and respected. Love validates us as persons. It is powerful, transforming and affirming to be loved by someone else and to give our love to someone else. It is no wonder that we want love! To satisfy our desire for love we need to understand how love works.
Home and Away. “I am not sure I know what love is.. I thought I had found it in God, but God has abandoned me. “
1. The Definition Of Love
— God is love. 1 John 4:7-9, 16
— “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
In His farewell address Jesus indicates that love will characterize His disciples. John 13:34-35
1 John 4: 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
When We Love We are walking in the Light of God 1 John 2: 9 The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
When We Love We are walking in the Life of God 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.
When We Love We are walking in the Love of God 1 John 4:7,11,12
2. The Demonstration Of God’s Love 1 John 4:9,10
1 John 3:16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.
— The penetrating question – “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Luke 6:32
1John 4:14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
1 John 2:2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
Former President Jimmy Carter wrote a book called Sources of Strength. In it he tells the story of a Cuban pastor named Eloy Cruz. The focus of his ministry has been the poorest of immigrants from Puerto Rico to the United States. Carter asked him the secret of his success. With modesty and embarrassment he replied, "Senor Jimmy, we only need to have two loves in life. For God, and for the person who happens to be in front of us at anytime."
— Jesus treated an outcast woman at the well with respect and tenderness. He touched a leper. He wept over the death of His friend Lazarus and the unbelief of his friends. He went home with a tax collector and allowed a fallen woman to wash His feet with tears.
3. The Demand Of God’s Love
We Are To Love unconditionally
Romans 5:6-10 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, [then how]much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
When the woman taken in adultery was brought to Him, He turned all attention away from her nakedness, restoring her dignity. He then requires that she abandon sin
We Are To Love Sacrificially
1 John 3:16-18 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him? 18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;
How love works: You may already be a really good Christian lover. Or you may just be getting started. You may have lots of ideas of who to love and how to love and don't need much help. Either way, I'd like us to practice right here right now.
• Smile Our first exercise is smiling. A simple smile is an act of love that can wonderfully bless another person's life. There was an old sage farmer in Tamworth who used to greet the new settlers as they arrived to the region. One wagon pulled up, the driver asked the old farmer “Is this a friendly town?” He would ask back “was the last town you lived in a friendly town?” The driver responded “Well no it was a very unfriendly town” “Well you probably find this town similar.” The next day another wagon load pulled up. “Is this a friendly town?” He would ask back “was the last town you lived in a friendly town?” The driver responded “Well yes it was a very friendly town” “Well you probably find this town similar.” He who would have friends must show himself friendly! So says the Proverb. Your smile is important!
Try it with the police officer if you're stopped on your way home. Try it at work. Even try it on the phone. Show Christian love with an intentional smile.
• Give Next we're going to practice giving because giving to others is a fabulous way to love them.
Giving can be habit forming once you get started. You give all kinds of things to benefit others. Jesus said it's actually more blessed to give than to receive. Those who love like Christians get hooked. Giving becomes an addiction.
• Forgive Exercise #3 is to forgive. For this you'll have to come up with your own action. Think of someone who recently offended, hurt, neglected, angered or otherwise antagonized you and decide to let it go. Just release any resentment and move on. Don't start with anything big. If a crime was committed against you, save forgiveness for another time. Right now, begin with the small stuff–like the person who took your golden heart and didn't give one back to you; or, the person who wouldn't smile back no matter how hard you smiled.
Paul Yonggi Cho is founding pastor of the largest church in the world. It is in Seoul, Korea and, last I heard, has around 750,000 members.
Cho travels the world as a speaker but told God he never wanted to go to Japan. The Japanese had done horrible things to the Korean people and to Cho's family during World War II. When he received an invitation to speak to 1,000 pastors in Japan he reluctantly accepted knowing that it was the right thing to do. When he stood to speak he blurted out words that he hadn't prepared: "I hate you. I hate you. I hate you." And then he publicly wept. Not a very good expression of Christian love.
One by one the Japanese pastors stood and walked up to the front where they knelt in front of Cho and asked for his forgiveness. It changed his heart until he said, "I love you. I love you. I love you."
You need to forgive.
• Encourage Exercise #4 is to encourage. Encouragement is one of the very best expressions of Christian love because we are all so hungry to be encouraged. Dan Baber posted encouragement for sale on eBay. He asked people to bid on getting an e-mail from Dan's mom, Sue Hamilton, that he promised would "make you feel like you are the most special person in the world." How many of you think that people would pay money for an encouraging e-mail? Bids started at $1. There were 42,711 hits resulting in 92 cash bids with the winning bid at $610. People want to be encouraged. People need to be encouraged. Here's the challenge: send an e-mail this week that the recipient will not delete. Send a note in the mail that will be saved for years. Leave an encouraging voice mail that will be saved for a long time. Go up to someone and just do whatever you can to encourage as an expression of Christian love.
Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
On March 15, 2004, an announcement was made that five Southern Baptist missionaries in Iraq had been killed. One of them was Karen Watson who had written a letter to the pastors of her home church to be opened and read in case of her death. Near the end of her letter she wrote:
Care more than some think is wise. Risk more than some think is safe.
Dream more than some think is practical. Expect more than some think is possible.
We Are To Love Personally
1 John 4: 19 We love because He first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 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.
Very early on Monday morning, July 29, 2002, nine coal miners were rescued from 240 feet under the earth where they were trapped for 77 hours (Somerset, PA). It was the first time in 30 years where there was such a successful rescue. During their three full days under ground they were in cramped quarters with cold rising water that sometimes was up to their noses. They shared one sandwich between them. They wrote goodbye notes to their families. They thought they were going to die—and they decided they would all die together so that their bodies was be found tied to each other.
At one of the emotional low points in their ordeal, 43-year-old Randy Fogle started to shiver and experienced tightness in his chest. The other nine feared he was suffering from hypothermia. They all surrounded him and took turns hugging him. They hugged each other. Blaine Mayhugh, 31, said, “When we were cold we would snuggle.”2 I doubt that these Pennsylvania coal miners whispered to each other in the dark, “I love you!” but they did love each other—with actions more than with words.
Love bears all hurts, wounds, sins and disappointments. Love believes the best about people, is never cynical, is never suspicious -- in spite of the way it is being wounded. And when love’s believing is betrayed, love turns to hope because God is still God and He can do anything. And even when hope grows thin and all hope seems lost, love endures. It endures deep hurt that seems so final, never losing the triumphant confidence that God who gives His children peace is still on the throne. Love cares too much to give up.
If we are to love the lost we need a similar miracle to take place in our lives in this time of moral degradation as took place in some people’s lives in the 18th Century. England was degraded spiritually. The churches had stopped preaching the gospel and were keen on preaching about anything but the gospel; they’d talk about politics, sports and anything else. But heart religion.. knowing Christ? Loving God? This was absent from the so called Christian pulpit. But God did a miracle in England in those days. He spoke to one or two folks. One put it into words that we sing: “Love Divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down, Fix in us Thy humble dwelling, All Thy faithful mercies crown.
“Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart.” C. Wesley.