Nov 17th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 52 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 love bearing all things. As in 1 Corinthians 13:7 CSB, “ (Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This is the first of a four-part series love; bears, believes, hopes, endures.
In the last episode, we talked about loving others using the template of 1 Corinthians 13 to inform our understanding of what loving looks like. Then we talked about Jesus upping the ante, so to speak, when he commanded that we as believers should love each other as He loved us. This idea that this sacrificial love is how the world will know that we are followers of Christ. Not that other believers have to earn that love, as we read from 1 John 4, God’s love didn’t require us to love Him first for Jesus to come and do what He did.
Now, Jesus did a lot when He lived, but in sticking with the message of this episode, “Love Bears,” let’s look at 1 Peter 2:24 CSB, “ (Christ) himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Love bears, and wheh, that’s quite the bear taking on all the sin in the world for all time. This, this is the love we should have for fellow believers, but we can’t exactly take on each-others sin. Right?
Galatians 6:1-2 CSB says, “ Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted.  Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” And then also, Romans 15:1 CSB, “ Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves.” Honest question for you to consider, “Do you see this playing out in The Church today?” Do you see the strong bearing the weaknesses of the weak, carrying each other's burdens, and gently restoring those who have “fallen?”
I think if you’ll take the time to consider and do a little research, you’ll have to answer that, with a few bright shining exceptions, by and large, no, this isn’t how The Church today treats each-other. When it becomes public information that one of us fails to uphold the perceived Christian standard of perfection we tend to flee from and ostracize those, who need us the most. How are we supposed to bear other believer's weaknesses and restore those who have fallen if we behave like they’ve caught some kind of communicable disease that we’ll be infected with if we’re even loosely associated with them? Church, this is the opposite of how we should be living. But, I’ve seen it in widespread practice, across denominational boundaries, from one congregation to another, from the small country church to the megachurch, it seems none of God’s people are exempt from this problem. And unfortunately, it’s true, more than ever, that in today’s culture, if you ally with someone who’s messed up then their guilt is automatically transferred to you in the eyes of the world. But, that’s the world’s standard. As Christians we should be living by a greater, a higher, a God standard.
Who am I kidding? Jesus faced this same problem back in His day. In Matthew 11 and Luke 7 Jesus’ reputation has reached John The Baptist in prison and he sends two of his own disciples to ask Jesus if He is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for, or should they be looking for another. What reputation is it that could have possibly caused the same man who greeted his cousin at the river Jordan with such respect and praise that, you know what let’s just read it. Matthew 3:13-17 CSB “ Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.  But John tried to stop him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?"  Jesus answered him, "Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then John allowed him to be baptized.  When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him.  And a voice from heaven said: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased."” OK, so what took John from that event to questioning if Jesus is even the Messiah at all? Jesus answers the question further down there in Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34 CSB “ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'” Jesus didn’t act like the Messiah that John, the religious leaders of the day, or anyone else was expecting, He was “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” We all know that’s not true, except the friend to tax collectors and sinners, but this the reputation He had on account of His loving on those in need of God’s love, when and where they needed to be loved.
What is this hold that the enemy has on the people of God that plagued even Jesus and still undermines the Gospel today? In one word, hate. Now, I know in today’s terms hate is a very specific action word with overtly hostile connotations, but when talking in Biblical and Theological terms you gotta think differently. It might help to think of Love and Hate the way you think of the gas gauge in a car. F is full and E empty. If that gauge reads half full then what? The car is half full of gas right? And what’s in the other half of the tank? The empty half. Nothing, there is nothing in the empty half of the tank, or you could say there is the lack of gas in the empty half. Love and hate are like this. F on the gauge is love and E hate. If the gauge reads half full then you’re half full of love. The other half of the tank, the half without the love, the half that has nothing in it, that’s hate. Or more specifically, that’s the absence of love.
When we read in the Bible that God hates something like Proverbs 6:16-19 CSB that says, “ The LORD hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to him (or you and I would probably use the word disgusting, or repulsive instead of detestable) :  arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil,  a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.” we have to keep in mind that hate is, in fact, the absence of love.
Now, remember 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.” For God to hate something is simply to then say that the thing in question creates a lack of God’s presence, it repels God or it is repulsive to the very nature of God. The lack of God’s presence is somewhere that you don’t want to be. This is where we find the wrath of God, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
Back on topic, to wrap up, I’m going to leave you with a couple of scriptures to consider given what we’ve covered in this episode.
Proverbs 10:12 CSB, “ Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.”
1 Peter 4:8 CSB, “ Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
And as a bonus go look up Luke 14:26.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”