First John Chapter 4. Last week was a good refresher for our lives. We ended last week with really saying, do nothing. It’s probably the only time you’ll come to church where we’ll say, “The way to apply this is to do nothing.” What we talked about last week is really the perfection of God’s love. We took the identity of the thought that God is love and then we just share in 1 John 4:18, that beautiful phrase, “that perfect love casts out fear.” That if you think about God and you’re afraid of God, you’re probably thinking about him wrong, right? Because his perfect love casts out fear. That God’s desire is to invite you in to all that he is and use his strength for your benefit. And so perfect love casts out fear. And then it reminds us that our response is to love God because of his love.
It’s not to earn his love, but it says in 1 John 4:19 we love him because he first loved us. And so his love is an invitation to our hearts, drawing us in closer to him. And what we notice in that type of love that God gives us is that love fills up our lives. And that’s why we said last week, look, the way to apply this lesson is not to do anything but rather rest in the love that’s communicated to you in Jesus. Because through that God fills you up. And as you’re filled up in his love in your life, then the outflowing from that filled cup of your life in God’s love, flows this response of then reacting in that love. We love because he loves. And so our love then becomes an outflow of God’s love because God’s love has filled us up.
And so that’s where John goes today in this story is he shares with us the overflow of a Jesus filled life. Or maybe if I said it in the form of a question, what does an overflowing Jesus filled life look like? And so as you think about resting in him this morning, worship. I hope the primary thought in your mind as you gather on Sundays, is not coming to church on Sunday because that’s what you do on Sunday. But rather it’s this desire of your heart to connect to God, to let God fill your cup, to outflow from your life. To not only be blessed by him, but then become a blessing because of him. And so John then begins to explain to us what this looks like and what does it look like, an overflowing Jesus filled life? And he starts off with some fairly strong words.
And sometimes I like that. There are times where I’m, I don’t want to read that, you know? But other times I like it. Because I recognize my heart can sometimes become callous, right? Or just indifferent. But there are certain vocabulary words that sometimes in life that when someone says them to you, good or bad, it’ll get your attention. Ahh, did they just say that? It’ll wake you up a little bit, right? And so John does this here. Look what he says. He says, if anyone says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar. That’s not a nice word to say in church, is it?
Are you a liar? Sometimes, right? I would say for this passage of scripture, as I think about this, I want you to know, I look at this section of scripture and I say, okay, I am not where God wants me, but I am on a journey where God is changing me. He’s transforming my life. And the more I sit in him and understand what his love is for me, the greater I am at living out these verses. So I come to this passage saying, look, I’m not perfect. But I want to be who God’s called me to be. And so I look at a passage like this, am I a person that hates? Like, I’m not going to categorize myself like that, but I’ll tell you there, there are times in life where I’m like, oh, I didn’t like how that came out, right? Oh, where did that come from?
If anyone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar. I think about what hate is, and maybe you would say that, you know, I’m not overall a hateful person, but once in a while, right? Rubbed me the wrong way and something comes out. And honestly I don’t necessarily like it. I wish five minutes later I could take it back. But there it is, right? You think about what exactly is hate? Well, I think the primary driving force behind hate is me. And I don’t want to point the finger, but I would say is you, because what drives hate is this desire for self. There’s something I want, I’m not getting. Therefore, in order to make my priority primary here, I’m going to use whatever force I can to get the job accomplished. And so what comes out of my life in order to force people to do what I don’t want or to get what I want, is hate.
And in the end, because people end up hating in a circumstance, not the general idea of your life, but hate comes out, what ends up happening with that as we dishonor others. So it says like this, here’s, hate, if we just explain it in a nutshell, hate is, I am the most important person ever. Therefore to get what I want, because I’m not getting what I want, I’m going to dishonor you to do that. And so in bringing forth hate, what ultimately happens is we diminish the glory of something that God has created beautifully. All you have to do is turn on the news every night, listen to a few people debating a topic, and when they don’t like what they’re getting, all of a sudden it becomes personal, right? You can’t just talk about the issue anymore. We’ve got to attack the individual, and so we dishonor. And what happens? Hate is born.
I want to talk a little bit at the end of this about why all of this is important, but just keep this locked away in our mind that this isn’t rocket science here. An overflowing Jesus filled life, well the opposite of that, is hate. In our lives, when Jesus fills us up, what comes out? And so he goes on and says this, the second half of this verse, for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. What John is saying is this, how do you truly know you love God? What measurement do you have in your life to look at? I love God. Because God is not visibly, he’s not one you can reach out and hug here. So what is the measure of the demonstration of my love for God? The way that I love the things that God loves
And what Does God love? Well, can I tell you? There’s two things you take to heaven. God’s word. And people. Jesus came proclaiming his truth and Jesus came and gave his life for others.
So the tangible measurement of your love for God is demonstrated by what you love according to what God loves. Do you love the things that God loves? Again, I would say we look at this and we say in our lives, I’m a pretty loving person. And I’m glad that most of the time we would categorize ourselves as a pretty loving person. But what I want to move towards today is more of the the places in life where we don’t always recognize that love that we think that we have. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has, has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. What John is saying here is these thoughts are from a negative premise, right? Don’t hate. And how in the world can you say you love God when you don’t love people? Like you can just say that you love God, but those are empty words, if it’s not demonstrating the way you care for other people. And so your love for God is seen by the way that you love other people. So the worship moment or maybe if we reverse this and say if you want a positive fight in order to think about how to respond in this, it’s to say to us that the way you worship God is demonstrated in the way that you love others.
Do you love God? How do you love others? I love in this passage, the way that he expresses this thought is to refer to it as brotherly love. So it’s a more specific way. It’s saying, okay, you’re here this morning. Do you love the Lord with your life? Well, if you say you do, don’t just make it words. Make it action. And here’s how: brotherly love. Now I think it’s not to avoid the sisterly love here, but it’s all inclusively saying body of Christ. Now I know the objection to that is to say, okay wait a minute. What about the world? The Bible tells us for God so loved the world, right? So why is it just limiting to brotherly love here? Those that are in Jesus.
I would say this. God loves the world. Yes. God loves people. God is love and God created people out of an extension of his love, not because he lacks love, but he wants to give his love away. What real love is, love is not about what I get. Love is about what I give. It’s unconditional, sacrificial, laying self down for the benefit of someone else. This is God. This has God expressed to us and the most tangible of ways because he became flesh and gave his life for us. That is love. And now he’s saying to us now, now in your love, if you say you love, it’s got to be tangible. You can’t just use these words as an expression that’s empty, but the way God moves in your life, the outflowing of Jesus should be seen and experienced in how you love others. Because you can’t physically hug God.
You can care for people around you. So brotherly love. What does that mean? Well, it’s not to say God doesn’t care about the people of this world, that God doesn’t love the people of this world, but it’s to say that within the body of Christ, there is something unique. If I were to compare it to my life, I would say it like this. I love people. I think I love you. I do. But I have a special love for my wife. An intimacy in relationship that is not anywhere else. It’s not the same, same love. There’s a depth to that, right? And God’s saying the same thing. He’s not saying that he hates the world because he loves his bride. What he’s saying is there’s a uniqueness to that relationship that he has with the church. It’s prized to him. Because it’s his. The body of Jesus covenants with him because he covenants with us. And so if you want the beauty of God’s love to go forth into this world, it’s got to start with God’s people. And understanding what that relationship looks like before God and how it plays out in our life.
Can I tell you, I think the most powerful evangelistic tool in this world, it’s not you just going out in the street and talking about Jesus, which I think God calls us to share Jesus, but I think it’s the way the body of Christ loves each other. In fact, Acts 2 tells you that the very last verse of Act 2, it says, the Lord added to the number of the body of Christ those that are being saved day by day. Why? It was because the world saw the way that they cared about each other and they longed to experience that kind of love. And so when you think about what John is saying here, he’s not saying despite one another, but he wants to identify a particular way and to love one another. Like if you’re thinking about, okay, how can I place a target in my life to to express this overflowing of Jesus? What John is saying is let it start in the body of Christ. Let it start here as a basis to learn, to really love at the depth that God calls us to love so that we have an a model to emulate in this world.
Because, when you think about God’s love in this world, what he loves the most, right? A depth more intimately, is those that reciprocate back. And it’s not because God’s love is greater, it’s because you can experience that love when you respond back to it. It’s like when I think about my kids, I love my kids, right? But my kids in rebellion versus my kids walking in fellowship with me, there’s a way to experience that love that’s different. You can’t extend that love the way that you would want to when they’re alienated from it. And so it is with the body of Christ. Now in belonging to the Lord, he thinks about you as his bride, and that is the prize of who he is. And so the expression of your love for that is important. I really appreciate that John’s even identifying this, because when you think about the previous verses he’s saying, God is love, God is love.
And he calls us then to love him because he first loved us. And so the question becomes, okay, how does God want us to emulate that love? Does he want us to say I love you and hoard all the love for himself? Like, is that what God wants you to do? I love you. God. Sorry. Can’t love you. I love you, God. Sorry, I got to save my love for him. He’s not saying that. What he’s saying is if you really love him, love is about giving itself away. And so the way that you demonstrate your love for God is not by alienating yourself from other people, but diving into relationship in order to love because of God’s love. God is not being selfish with your love. But rather God sees your love as an expression of worship to him. So we should be hearing this phrase and saying, you know what? I can’t wait to do. I can’t wait for Nathaniel to be quiet so I can turn around and I can love somebody beside me. My worship to Jesus today is going to be listening to his word, but it’s going to be making a cognitive effort within my mind to look at someone and say, you are important, because Christ made you important.
And the way that I love people, especially his bride, is worship before him. Jesus said as much. Listen to this, Matthew 25:35. I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty, you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you a drink? And when do we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you? And when do we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the king will answer them. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you’ve done it unto me.
God’s love demonstrated in a tangible way. And now look at this. Another strong word here, rather than call you a liar, he says this. Or not you, but someone else. And this is the commandment we have from him. Whoever loves God must also, must also, love his brother. Must. You think about the mission of the church. Love God, love others, right? And the foundation of what we live in and loving God is to love others. So the must of the church becomes that we’ve got to care about loving one another, particularly starting with the body of Christ. Love one another.
Love one another. Sometimes when we hear that phrase, I wonder in my mind if what we often think, you know, God calls me to love him and love others, right? Love God, love others. I wonder sometimes we think, think about that word, that what God means is, everyone with my last name, right? Like if we measure our success of love. Do I love? Well, most of the time, and I’m really loving everyone with my last name. So I’m doing what this verse says, right? That’s not what John is saying to us. And what God wants us to recognize is, yeah, if you’ve got a family, you love your family, that’s wonderful, right? But when God created the family, his reason for creating the family was to be a blessing to the world. His reason for creating the church family, any type of family is to be a blessing to the world.
You want to teach your family, your kids, the people with your last name. You certainly want to encourage them to be a blessing to the world. That when you think about love, it’s more than just hunger dam and your group with your last name. But it’s to think about how God has given everyone in that clan the opportunity to do something beyond yourselves. It’s like this, one of the reasons that at the beginning of the school year, we want to bring the kids forward and pray for them. As we understand, there are two ways that you can operate in this world. You can operate out of fear. Or you can operate out of faith, right?
We leave it up to parents to decide the way that you want to educate your children, whether homeschool, private school, public school, whatever, right? But to understand this, however you choose, God wants that child to be nurtured in a way that they become a blessing to this world. And so, as a parent, come Monday, Tuesday morning, if you send your kid out to school, what is guiding the direction of your child? Is it that you’re operating out of faith and just concerned for them? Or are you sending out a light for Jesus? I think the only way to do that is to walk life with them. To help them understand how to live wisely in a world that might be contrary to God. To love when others might respond in hate, because of God’s love for them. And so we think about the idea of family is a great place to start. But if you just hunker around that and that’s all that you think about, you miss the complete opportunity of what John is saying here. We measure the idea of love, is not just saying you can love your family, it is saying love your family, but that’s not all it’s saying.
It’s saying love your family in such a way that they see the love of Jesus modeled in their lives through you and then can demonstrate that in themselves. To walk life with them. So the overflow of a life filled by God’s love is demonstrated in the way you choose to worship by loving others. Not arbitrarily, but tangibly and the begins in the body of Christ. Maybe you can even think about this week. How did the expression of God’s love flow from me as Jesus filled me? Is it a natural outflow of my life? Like one of the things that I definitely don’t want to do is to say, okay, you’re not being loving enough. Feel guilt. Like what I would rather do is say, go back to last week, and if you don’t see the love of God coming through, continue to let Jesus fill you. So it’s not about guilt.
This is about relationship. This is not about trying harder. This is about surrender. It’s about dying to you and letting Jesus work through you. Remember when you are in charge, what happens is hate. Because when I’m in charge and I don’t get what I want, I hate. But this isn’t about what I want. This is about what Christ desires. And what Christ desires is the heart of others. And the way Jesus connects to that heart, he’s already shown us his love and because that’s how he connects to my heart, I love because he first loved me. And so then John starts this reset of her mind. In 1 John ,5 he starts with this reset in our mind. Sort of the beginning of the idea of discipleship. What does this look like in our lives as we live for the Lord?
He says, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. You remember, being a disciple impacts two things in our lives. Two things, what you believe and how you behave. What you believe and how you behave. Because what you believe will ultimately lead to how you behave, right? God gets your heart, he will change your life. And so he’s saying everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. The basis for this Christian living, which we just shared is this connecting to God to allow him to work through us. And so he then says this, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
So what he’s saying is in that love for God, what God does is he creates a team. Individuals that are a part of that team, that are all about themselves, don’t celebrate the success of the team. But when you understand that God wants to work his miracle in the lives of everyone, when you cheer for everyone, as they move forward, we all win. We want to see the success of God’s people together. We don’t walk in jealousy, but we walk in victory celebrating what God has done. Let me give this an a personal way. I almost don’t want to use this illustration, but I’m going to. I sometimes will hear churches compete with other churches, like they’ve got to be better than the church down the road. And they’re not satisfied until they’re better than the church down the road. I think we can look at that verse and see the ungodliness of that.
Our heart at ABC should want to be to see the light of God go forth in this valley, regardless. I don’t care about beating another church. In fact, why would we? It’s the same team. I appreciate the church down the street that wants to be a part of the same team and I want to see their success. I think it’s the reason as a church family a part of our budget includes taking pastors out and just encourage them where they’re at. We want to be victorious here. And God doesn’t call us to be the church down the street. I don’t want to be the church down the street. You know why? The church down the street might be different. They might have different gifts among the body of Christ and God might lean their heart just a little differently. And that’s okay. What God calls us to be is who he’s gifted us to be. Our success isn’t measured by how other people do down the road and whether or not you beat them or don’t beat them. Our success is measured by faithfulness to Jesus. I want to wake up today and be who God’s called me to be. Everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. I care about the success of this church. I care about the success, not of us as whatever that looks like, but you personally. And I care about the success of just the body of Christ in general. Not a contest. It’s not a race of competition against one another, but this is about what Jesus wants to accomplish in this valley and it works as we work together.
So he says in verse two, “By this, we know that we love the children of God. We Love God and obey his commands. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commands.” You think about what John’s doing here. He’s now reversing it. He’s saying, okay, you want to know if you love God? It’s seen in how you love others. You want to know if you love others? It’s seen in how you love God. And that’s what he says in this verse, right? We know that we love others by the way that we love God. It’s this circular thought that the two commandments, they intertwined in the way that they interact with each other. If you love God, you’re gonna love people. If you truly love people, what you’re going to do is you’re going to love the Lord because the best thing that you can do for people is to direct into the thing that helps them understand who they are, where they came from, where they’re going. That’s the Lord.
So if you love others, connect to God. Continue to allow his cup to fill your life. If you think about this thought of love for a moment, the way that John chooses to describe this, a couple of couple important thoughts. He refers to as commandments. So he wants you, I think, to consider the two commandments we live in as, as Christians. Love God. Love others, right? Love God, love others. But then now think about this. He’s making love a commandment. Love is commanded in this passage. Now, let’s go on an imagination train for a minute and I want you to picture yourself as a hippie. Some of you are going to be better than that than others. You think, what would a hippie say to that thought? Love is commanded. They would throw a couple of “dudes” in there, right? Or “bros.” “You can’t command love, bro. You don’t command love. You be love, man.” Love is a command here. Why in the world is John making love of commandment? Can love be commanded?
Why is John giving us that kind of statement in regards to the Christian life? Well, there’s a little bit of truth to the hippy thought of love I just presented. A hippy is giving sort of the expression, at least in the character I made of them, is given this sort of expression that love is a feeling, right? And you just sort of feel the love, until you don’t. Then you go somewhere else and feel the love somewhere else. There is feeling to love, right? But that’s not the primary driver behind love that the Bible is describing for us. In fact, I would go on to say, if love is feeling based, we’re not really talking about love. We’re just describing feelings and masking it behind love. Love is deeper than a feeling. Because faith is deeper than a feeling. There are going to be times in your Christian life where you’re going to wake up and you’re not going to feel like you want to get close to anyone or close to the Lord.
But in those moments, you got a decision to make. Are you going to follow a feeling you’re gonna follow faith? Because what faith is about is understanding that God is deeper than my feeling. And God is more important than feeling. Feelings will come and go, but God is. And God calls me to him. So there’s going to be times in your Christian life where feelings are going to be up and down. But the question isn’t in that where is your faith? Because if your faith is in God, love will be made known. Because love is not driven by feeling. When the Bible talks about love, love is an expression of the will. It’s a decision of the will.
What’s interesting, if you study biblical love, there’s three primary words for love in the New Testament. Phileo which is brotherly love. Eros, which is intimate love shall we say. Sexual love. That then there’s agape. Unconditional sacrificial love. When you study secular Greek writing on love, agape is rarely mentioned. It’s in the Bible that this word is repetitiously brought up. Unconditional, sacrificial love. It’s this decision of your will to say, when things are hard, my life will respond in worship. And that worship will be to love. And I’m going to love God, and the way that I’m going to love God is demonstrated through the way I love you. So when you think in terms of this command, the reason John’s able to describe it as a command is because he saying to us that the biblical form of love is a decision of your will regardless of what anyone around you does. Because love is about giving itself away for the benefit of others. That’s exactly what Jesus did, right? While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And here’s the reality with the church. Church isn’t always perfect. We’re not always the best looking in the way that we present ourselves to the world. But you know what refines us? Do you know what helps us? It’s love. It’s grace. Do you think about in your life when someone messes up, what do you want? Justice. But when you mess up, what do you, what? Grace. Grace.
God’s love transforms life. And when he talks about these commandments, he’s saying to us, look, it’s this decision of your will to live this or not. God’s desire for your life is to make that decision. To live out this love despite what others do. And he says this in the second half of verse three, and his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world. Like you say to yourself, “How in the world can we love like this?” His commandments are not burdensome. Well loving like that seems hard. So how in the world do we love like this? Well his answer for us was in chapter four. We saw that together, right? It’s his perfect love for us. It’s the measure of his greatness over our lives. You think about what makes something burdensome. I think for us, we feel burned when we are sent to fulfill a task of which we don’t have the resources to fulfill. Like beating your head against the wall, right? If you know you’ve been called to do something, your boss sends you to do a job and you are just undermanned under power, there’s no way you can climb that mountain. That is frustrating. That is burdensome.
You realized before you began the journey that it’s an impossibility, right? And so for you, it just weighs on you. Sometimes in life we take the burden of trying to make sure people like us. What you think about me is really important to me. And so we wear that burden of trying to make everyone think great things of us. And you know, before you start that journey, it’s impossible. Right? Or you carry the burden of making other people happy? Good luck.
Or what about the burden of pleasing religion? Carry the burden of trying to be good enough according to religious performance? Scripture tells you you’ll never win, you’re not perfect. Can I tell you, if you feel burdened by Jesus, it’s not really Jesus. I think it can be pressure you put on yourself and you call it up Jesus. But if you feel burdened by Jesus is not Jesus. Because with Jesus, you don’t have anything to prove. Because Jesus has already fulfilled everything for you in him. You’re not trying to earn his love. You get to receive it. In Jesus, you’re greater than what people or religion says about you. You’re what Jesus says about you. You’re wonderfully made. He’s given his life for you. His love is unending for you. You’re a child. You’re a royal priest.
In 1 Peter chapter two, Peter’s writing his epistle on living as a Christian in the midst of people hating him. And when you get to chapter two, he’s trying to encourage the church on how to respond. And I think Peter is thinking about the way we can give others permission to rob ourselves of what we already have in Jesus. And what I mean is, Peter is looking at the world that’s just hateful towards the Christian community. And if they find their identity in what the world thinks about them, they’re giving the people the permission to rob them of the identity they already have in Jesus. Does that make sense? Religious leaders in Jesus’ day would do this continuously. Jesus would even warn them. He gave the seven woes to the Pharisee, but they put a burden on people, even something that they themselves won’t carry.
And Jesus says in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest,” in verse 28. Under religion, they felt taxed. They felt burdened. Jesus is like, I can give you rest. Because it’s not about the identity you achieve. It’s about my identity on you. And so Peter says this, thinking about the pressure people face, 1 Peter 2:1, “Therefore rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, evil, slander of every kind.” So he’s saying, look, when people hate you, our response in our flesh is to hate back. We love when you love us. When you don’t love us, we stop loving. And Peter saying, look, stop finding your identity in what other people think. And here’s how you do it. Put it away.
Get rid of yourselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. That’s hatefulness. When people are hateful towards you and you’re hateful back, you’re breeding the very thing that you hate. And so hate is not the response because hate is about you. And so rather than put that on you get rid of all those things. And he says this like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk. So that by it you may grow up in your salvation. Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. Your identity is in something different altogether. People are going to say things about you and you’re never going to please them. The position of a pastor. I get that every week. Someone, somehow sends me some email about something.
As you think about what Jesus is saying in this passage, he’s saying, look, your identity, what matters should come to us in Christ. I love the way Charles Spurgeon said it. He said this, “If any man thinks ill of you, don’t be angry with him. For you’re worst than they thinks you to be.” That is so great. How do you know in your life you really got to a place where people are just gonna have opinions and they’re all like rear ends and they all stink, right? Like who cares what they think about me doesn’t matter. It’s what Jesus thinks about me. Who does Jesus say that I am?
Spurgeon says, look, we can go around in life and impress people and they think we’re great and we mess up. But truthfully, if you really get behind it, we’re not as great as most people even think that we are. If people knew what we were in private and that ever became public, how much worse would that be? So if someone ever maligns you for being something that’s not great, man, say, you know what? You’re right. I’m actually worse than this, but thank God for Jesus, right? Because of Jesus, I don’t have to worry about what you think. I am already so incredibly loved. Do you know he’s given his life for me? He’s called me his own. He’s called me to so much more in this life. And because of that, even in the hatefulness I might have in my life, I can turn to you in your hate for me and say, “You know what? I love you because I understand love transforms. And I’m here to be a transformational agent for Jesus, because of his transformation being made known in my life. So I join you in that. That’s okay. I don’t think I’m that great either, but Christ sure is right?” And so he gives us this last question. He says this, who is it that overcomes the world, except the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God. And notice he isn’t making this as the proclamation. He’s making this as a question. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God?
On a personal basis, this question is important for everyone to answer, is Jesus that for you? Do you understand that Jesus became flesh to pay for your sin so that you didn’t have to? His love over flowingly lavished on your life and His grace. And he calls you to embrace that, right? If you don’t receive Jesus, one day you’re going to enter eternity, meeting God face to face having told him you rejected him. God doesn’t force you to belong. He invites you, but if you don’t want to be with him, he won’t make you. But he certainly gives the invitation. That’s why it’s in the form of the question. But let me just back off this for a minute and make it bigger for us church. And say this, what about the world? Who is it that overcomes the world? Except the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God.
The world needs to know this Jesus. And how you choose to demonstrate his life matters. So I would say that like this, two ways to think about this. I considered this last night, okay? What for an American church would be the most encouraging way to say this as we talk about love? Because we say that word a lot in our culture. And I would say it like this, sometimes it’s about what you do, right? We talked about that. The way you worship the Lord is demonstrating how you love. Starting with Jesus’s body, Jesus people, right? So there’s something that you do. But consider this for a minute. Sometimes love is about what you don’t do. You think about hate. In our American culture, you get an opinion, right? And you can use your tongue however you want. But you think about the consequences of that as it relates to Christ. Like, I’m not telling you to say things that aren’t true, but I’m saying the way we say things sometimes is toxic to what Jesus wants us to do.
Sometimes we use our platform as “freedom of speech” to not take accountability for the way that we say things according to followers of Jesus. And there’s a problem with that. You think about people in your neighborhood. One of the things that we want to do as a church is be very careful in the way that we communicate the truth that we live for. Because sometime in life, maybe, you’re going to find yourself in a place where you might be one of very few Christians, right? And the words you say carry more weight because people examine that. And you can shoot off at the mouth at things that you don’t like about certain things around you. And in the short term, sure, you grabbed people’s attention, right? I mean, you and your hot shot American way, said exactly what you thought because it’s your freedom.
But here’s the consequence, in the long run. When God starts working on the heart of a person, yeah they knew what opinion was, but the soul is such a precious thing. And to think about now going to that attitude and trusting that attitude with the sacred things of God. There’s a distance there because the negativity. You know how I know that? It’s because the quickest way for me to unfollow you on Facebook is to tell me your opinion in negative ways about things. Like I’m friends with lots of people and I follow very few people on Facebook. I don’t want that garbage. And then when it comes to the things of God, how much more important that is? And when you think about the way that your tongue expresses things, yeah, there may be things that frustrate you, but love sometimes isn’t just doing things. It’s choosing not to say things when you may feel on the inside. The cognitive decision of your will to say, but what Jesus wants to do for you is more important than me expressing an opinion that feels like throw up all over you. Does that make sense?
Church, I want people to come here and people to know that when you invite your neighbors, what we’re going to talk about is not what we’re against. What we’re going to talk about is what we’re for. Because what happens when you talk about what you’re for, the things that you don’t stand for, tend to just fall away anyway. But what’s more important is that people know Jesus. Paul said it like this. Doesn’t mean that you’re not truthful. It just means you’re careful in the way that you talk about truth. He says this, Colossians 4:6 let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Let your conversations be full of grace, seasoned with salt. Paul said it like this in 1 Corinthians. He was going through the debate. He said, you know I can make people think that I’m really wise and people can be really impressed with me. But he said, you know what? I have one pursuit in life. For I resolve to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I mean, how many of us think, you know, our neighbors can name 57 of our opinions, but they really don’t know where I am with Jesus.
Paul says this, the most important thing, the most important thing is your love for Jesus. I realize sometimes in saying that we might feel ashamed because we’re thinking, man, if I were to turn around and talk to my neighbor about Jesus, I was already that rear end we’re talking about. How can I even talk about Jesus? Well, there’s some repair work to do there, right? But here’s what we want to be about. We just want people to know Jesus. The Gospel enough is enough of a stumbling block. Why put anything else in front of them? Die to self, live to Christ. That’s a personal martyrdom of you to become something different than who you were. You give that kind of invitation. What do people need? Not toxicity behind them, but people cheering them on. And that’s what makes our love so important. So you think about this passage, the outflow of a life resting in Jesus. Say two things. It’s about the way you demonstrate your love. An expression of your worship to God is how you love others. But it’s also about what you choose not to do. Lay aside my opinion in these moments. The opinion of Christ to be made known and the truth of Christ to be made known. So that his love can be emulated throughout our community and into our neighborhoods.