Nov 10th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 51 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 talk about loving others.
OK, so we talk a lot about love around here, and 1 Corinthians 13:13 has become a life mantra for me at this point, “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love— but the greatest of these is love.” Since it’s the greatest, it stands to reason that most of our episodes should focus on love. We know from 1 Corinthians 13 that love is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy, or boast. It’s not arrogant, or rude, it’s not self-seeking, or irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. “Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” A lot of Christians would do good to remember that, “does not keep a record of wrongs,” and “believes all things” stuff when people put their faith in Christ, especially those in the public eye.
When someone has an encounter with The Lord and professes Jesus as Lord the world watches and takes notice how we, as Christians, treat those who have joined our ranks. When we say things like, “well, we’ll just see how they do,” or “I hope it’s real, but… .” We put everyone on notice that Christianity isn’t the life-changing hope that we preach it is, but more along the lines of a social club that requires you to look and act like those in the club to be a part. Or worse, we send the message that only folks from a certain kind of background can become a Christian. None of that is true mind you, but we’re talking about perception, not fact.
I’ve been reading a book called “Faith At The Speed Of Light.” Now, I’m not a speed reader, I’m not even a fast reader. I’m a pretty slow reader, so it takes me a while to get through a book, and I digest piece by piece, so I’ve been in this book for a while. There’s this part where the author tells a story that after graduating from Oral Roberts University, a Christian college, he pursued his Master's degree at a secular institution. One day in class a fellow student said that she felt judged by him because he was a Christian and she worked at an abortion clinic. The thing is that the author grew up in a Christian home, found Christ as a teenager, and yes, went to college at ORU, but during all of this, the question of whether or not abortion violated any Christian standard or value had never come up. He was honestly taken aback by her insinuation because he had never given any thought to what his view on abortion was before or after his conversion to Christianity and had no idea why being a Christian meant he would judge her. The Church and Christians had created a cultural reputation that caused this young lady to have the false perception that she was simply unlovable to any Christian because of her association to abortion. In this case, and with most Christians this simply wasn’t the truth, but it was the perception created that everyone else claiming Christianity was, and by and large still are, stuck with.
The deeper systemic problem here is that people aren’t stupid, they intuitively know whether you are genuine or not and given enough fake interactions with Christians claiming a love they don’t have and they’ll just start shutting Christians down when we reach out to them. Remember Matthew 22:39, “ The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” But not just that, plug-in those explanations from 1 Corinthians 13 to that verse; be patient with others and yourself, don’t envy or boast creating envy in others, don’t have an exaggerated sense of your own importance or expose that someone else does, don’t be rude to others or yourself, look out for others welfare before your own and allow others to look out for you, don’t let yourself get easily angered at yourself or others, don’t keep a record of the things that others, or yourself, have done wrong, don’t find joy when others are treated wrong or embrace the lie that you deserve to be treated poorly, rejoice in the Biblical truth about others and yourself. To sum up; take the weight of others struggles on your own shoulders, believe the best of, and root for the best outcome for, yourself and others, give some leeway for yourself to mess up and extend that mercy to others before you give up on them.
This isn’t all Jesus had to say on commandments and love either. But, specifically concerning this idea of loving others, in John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “ "I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” How we treat fellow believers, especially when the whole world is watching, is how they will know we really are Christians. This is different than the “love your neighbor as yourself” command earlier though. Here Jesus ups the ante and says we should love fellow believers like Jesus loves us. Let’s turn to 1 John to find out what that looks like. Starting in verse seven, “ 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.” And pay attention here, cause I know it’s easy to tune out when I’m reading scripture. Verse ten, “ Love consists in this:” seriously though, pay attention, cause it’s stupid how important this is, and I don’t want you to miss it, “  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.”
Humanity didn’t love God, but despite that; despite our impatience and cruelty, despite our envy of those God had spoken to, despite our boasting to God about our own self declared imaginary righteousness, despite our arrogance and rudeness, despite our care for no one but ourselves, despite our irritability, despite the list we kept of everyone who had wronged us and what they had done, despite the joy we found when others “got theirs” whether it was right or not, despite our disdain for the truth, despite that we didn’t care what broke Gods heart, despite our proclivity to believe in nothing that we couldn’t see, demanding proof for belief, despite our embrace of the existential despair of life as if it were some rite of passage that not all survive, despite that we gave no second chances. Despite all of this, and remember it’s an on or off situation, a yes or no, if you're guilty of one you're guilty of all, if you’ve done it one time then you’re guilty forever. Despite all that, the scripture says that God “loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for” all of that and more. This, this is how we should love our fellow believers. Whether they’ve been a believer for one minute, or fifty years, irregardless of where they’ve come from, or how publicly their sins have been publicized. The world will know we’re believers when we sacrificially love other believers, that is the greatest testimony of our devotion to Christ. While meeting other Christians with doubt and disbelief of their very conversion is the loudest denial of Christ we can publish to the world.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Bear, believe, hope, and endure all things, until next time…”