Jun 9th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 29 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill, and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to tag onto the three-part series we just ended on Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.” and move on to Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.”
Let’s bottom line this, OK? I’ve named this episode “labels” because we all have these labels we apply to others and have applied to us, either by others or by ourselves. As humans, we let these labels group or divide us into sometimes completely arbitrary categories or worse make us enemies of each other. But, we just read that this isn’t true. “...our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood…”
Just to give you an idea of the labels that I’m talking about here’s a list of some labels that have been applied to me over the years. Poor, too young, too old, underqualified, overqualified, inexperienced, too experienced, short, fat, obese, white - nonHispanic, caucasian, racist, cracker, heretic, liar, homophobe, narrow minded, heterosexual, cisgender male, millennial, nerd, Sci-Fi geek, crazy, dreamer, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, fascist, secessionist, stupid. I’m a proud Texan and like to think of myself as loyal and loving, a Berean Christian, who serves as a Pastor. I am someone’s husband, someone’s father, someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s grandson, someone’s cousin, and someone’s friend.
While some of these labels that have been applied to me may be factual, they’re not all true. The truth is that I am loved, and so are you. The Bible is full of scriptures and an overarching theme of God's love for us. Isaiah 44 tells us that the same God “who made everything; who stretched out the heavens by” Himself; “who alone spread out the earth; who destroys the omens of the false prophets and makes fools of diviners; who confounds the wise and makes their knowledge foolishness; who confirms the message of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers.” This same God formed you in the womb. And Jeremiah 1 tells us that God knew who you would be before you were born.
1 John 4:7-21, reads “ Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is made complete in us.  This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world's Savior.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God-God remains in Him and He in God.  And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.  In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.  We love because He first loved us.  If anyone says, "I love God," and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.”
I have these friends who own a little burger shop that honestly has become my favorite place to eat. They have a young elementary school age son who recently had to spend a week at the shop due to early school release every day that week and his parent's schedule. Several times that week he went outside to play with the elementary school age children of the owners from the shop next door. This young man only speaks English and the children of the owners from the shop next door only speak Spanish. This didn’t create the slightest of problems. They played together every day that week.
You see a kind and tender heart is a kind and tender heart in every language and transcends every culture. A smile is a smile in every language and transcends every culture. A hug is a hug in every language and transcends every culture. These labels we’re talking about that categorize, define, and divide; religion, politics, color of skin, ideologies, sexual orientation. These labels only have the power to divide us because we imagine that they do. However, love puts no stock in labels.
When God looks at you there’s nothing hidden, but He doesn’t see labels. God chooses to see the you that’s done everything perfectly and fully lived up to your potential. You are fully known and fully loved, by God. God is love. We just read that in 1 John 4:8. When we apply that to what we know about Love from 1 Corinthians 13 we find that; God is patient and kind. God doesn’t envy or boast, He’s not arrogant, or rude, not self-seeking, or irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. God finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Our wrongdoings, sins if you will, aren’t what keep us from spending eternity with God, we’re born with that malady. What WILL send people to Hell at the judgment is a lack of faith in Christ as the Son of God. Faith in Christ equals righteousness. Righteousness equals salvation. The remaining requirements of Christianity are found in love; love God, love yourself, love others.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”