Jan 12 2020 - Above All... LOVE

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.

It is love that makes it church.

I want to tell a story – it is about Tim and Alycia Blough… They don’t know I’m telling this story.

Many of you know they bought an old farmhouse – one of the guys came up to me – and asked – can I talk to the men’s group, as Tim and Alycia have done so much for the church – so the past couple weeks, the guys have been going over there – helping them. That is an example of – 1 Peter 4:8

That is what He is talking about. What matters in church.

For love covers a multitude of sins.

Church is a highly relational institution – it provides a great opportunity for hurting people and being hurt – disappointing and disappointed.

Love is the only way to overcome those things. It is the only way. Maintain constant love for one another.

Colossians 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Before this, Paul lists the important characteristics of a Christian – and beyond all of those things – put on love – the perfect bond of unity.

The devil’s strategy is to divide. Our greatest protection and weapon against that tactic – the countermeasure – is love! That is the greatest strategy of the church for the church – a strategy of love – and the church is doing what is above all things – all other strategies – all other ways. We do pretty well – but we could excel still more.

At Christmastime – there are many people who are not fortunate enough to have family who live in the area – and for the past several years – a group has been getting together and having dinner together or going to movies together.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.

Who is hospitable WITH complaining? You tend to be hospitable because you like to be! You invite people over – and that is hospitality – but the word goes beyond that – lover of strangers – not just people who are strange – but foreigners – immigrants – refugees – travelers. There were no McDonalds and Burger King and Panera and Starbucks – so what hospitality was about – was meeting pressing needs of the moment that people had – engaging in that.

Jesus tells the story about a man who knocks on the door at midnight because travelers came. That was the norm! The guy who wouldn’t get up is the bad guy in the story – he wasn’t meeting a pressing need of the moment. He ended up doing it but complained.

James 2:15 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm and eat well," but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.

Here we have it again – love is meeting pressing needs at the moment – making meals when people are sick – visiting those who need to be visited – helping out with projects that are real needs in real time.

John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Often, in the New Testament – this is followed by – just as I have loved you.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

So, when we see this – and it comes up many times – just as Christ loved us. Simple question – how did Jesus love us? So we can love effectively. The greatest way to love was in laying down his life for us.

In our relationships, rarely will we be asked to literally lay down our lives for someone. It MAY. It has never happened for me – maybe if you are a soldier or police officer – but metaphorically – there are many ways we can lay down our lives for one another.

Real sense – but not literal:

Philippians 2:3 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

We can lay down our lives for one another by having an attitude or mindset that puts others first. Now by this – this does not mean to have a lack of self-care or self-protection – of course, it is natural and normal to have our needs met first – but as Christians, we should live focused on meeting others’ needs. Jesus loved us by putting us first – all the way to the cross – and we have other ways of doing it.

Jesus got up and took off His robe and washed the disciples’ feet. I have done this as an example for you to do the same.

Have you ever experienced a foot-washing ceremony? It can be moving and powerful. Wow! That was cool! Powerful! But when Jesus did this – it was not cool. It was powerful in a different way – but what Jesus was doing in washing their feet – it was a humble and humiliating act. It was to be done by the lowest of the lowest servants. The disciples were like – what are you doing washing our feet – you are the Messiah here – the God here! And Jesus is saying – exactly! Doing the lowest job.

Third – Jesus had the incredible ability to accept and forgive people. Now when I say, accept – watch what He does – He welcomes in the worst of the worst – story after story – and forgiving them. We’ll look at forgiveness in a few weeks as another one of the things that matter. He welcomes them as full members of His community – part of His family.

The fourth thing – He corrected people when it was necessary – but He always did it in love.

Blunder after Blunder – Jesus stuck with the disciples and He sticks with us. Who could stick with Peter -one foot in the mouth after the other! Can you imagine coming to church to people arguing about who is greatest.

Jesus calls them His friends – relating as equals! Isn’t that amazing! As friends! If anyone had the right to be superior – He WAS superior.

Jesus met real physical needs. We may not be able to do that like He did. None of us will feed 5000 or heal the blind – but you can take a meal to someone – or you can visit those who are sick – care for those who are sick. Jesus did it in phenomenal ways – and in simple ways as well – we don’t see it all, but I’m sure that Jesus did the simple things of love.

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

What is so new about this commandment? Loving like Jesus loved us! After the cross we could understand.

The effectiveness of our witness is tied to our love for one another in the church.

This is especially true – about the church’s witness to the world. Our personal witness is really important. But the Bible focuses on a corporate witness – it is community oriented – the entire church is a witness to the world – and for that to happen, the church must love one another.

In our culture – there are all kinds of churches that are doing phenomenal things when it comes to missions and outreach – but many of us would say that the impact of the gospel on the culture is going down. We must ask ourselves – why? And – is it possible it is tied to this verse right here? Is it possible that the church in America is not known for this? There may be churches and people who are known as following this verse – but the universal church – is simply not known for this. I think that might be the case myself. Part of the problem – there are some loud public voices that don’t represent many – but are put forth as speaking for the church – that is one big problem.

I think, if you, um, read blogs – podcasts, publications, conferences – Christian stuff – the way they interact with one another is embarrassing – it is simply embarrassing! It is awful!

George Barna is a survey guy who focuses on Christianity – GenZ’s and Millennials – Millennials are turning forty this year – are we old? Some more than others, (Tony) are older than me! Sorry – derailed us here – Welcome to men’s group – let’s bring it back…

If you grew up in the 60’s 70’s or 80’s – the approach – was – is Christianity true? There were a lot of Christian apologetics to convince people that Christianity is true – that is what was needed –

Today, the young people are not asking is it true – they are asking – is it good? Does it work? Are the people who call themselves Christians – are they good or not? I know this to be true because I have heard it from you! I have heard different ones of you say this – as you minister to someone who doesn’t know Christ – “You are not like the other Christians!” – “You’re really different” – “You’re what I thought a Christian SHOULD be like!”

If you hear that – you should thank God that He has given you the opportunity to witness in that way – and to realize – it is not all you – it is God working in you – but then it should disturb us that their experience is not what it should have been.

Sunday Service: 10:00 am
Adult Sunday School: 9:00 am

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