Rooted Christians in Grounded Churches
Series Thesis: Christ is for you and for me, together in Christ, we are his church.
Prayer: This morning we pray for a greater measure of your peace and clarity. Would be hunger for your word and the truth within. Would we love our brother and sisters in Christ as you have so loved us. We are creatures who stumble and fall often. But you in your love, hear us and return us to your side. In your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor born in 1906. He came from renowned German theologians, pastors, and historians on his mother’s side. On his Father’s side renowned scientists. Deep thinking was in his bloodstream. He earned his doctorate in theology at the age of 21 asking the question “what is the church?.” Bonhoeffer could not serperate learning from the life of the Church. He was also well respected by the likes of Karl Barth.
“The guiding force in Bonhoeffer’s life, underlying all that he did, worked and suffered for, was his faith and love of God.” Gerhard Leibholz
After the rise of Hitler, Bonhoeffer had a radio broadcast where he called the ideal of the “furhrer” as an idol and that Hitler was not a true leader but a “misleader”. Understandably, the Gestapo ended this broadcast before it finished.
This can be seen that in 1935, during the rise of Nazism in Germany, Bonhoeffer led an illegal Church Training College with the intent of training young pastors. “Young ministers who came from all over the Reich learned here what is so sorely needed to-day—namely, how in the twentieth century a Christian life should be lived in a spirit of genuine brotherhood, and how such a life could naturally and freely grow if there were only men who entirely belonged to the Lord and, therefore, in brotherly love to one another.” Leibholz
Bonhoeffer believed Christians should not only attend Church but be the church together, and live life together.
In 1939 as tensions rose in Germany, and in Bonhoeffer’s words, the idol and misleader Hitler exercised power, he wanted to avoid being inscripted into the army. Bonhoeffer travelled to New York where he planned to stay for 3 years. Feeling great conviction not to be away for too long, he told his hosts he would only be staying a year. He was in the United States a mere 26 days before feeling a great conviction to endure the coming difficulties with his brothers and sisters in Christ. His great love for the Body of Christ in Germany sent him back to endure what would come, together.
He decided to return to Germany to work for the German military intelligence while all the while be a spy to seek the downfall of the Nazis and the assassination of Hitler.
Germany invaded Poland just a few short months later.
What Pastor Ben and I want to communicate in this series is this, “Christ is for you and for me, together in Christ, we are his church”
Week 1 we started with Christ and who he is as the one through whom, by whom, and for whom all things are held together. He is the very substance of grace.
Week 2 we looked at those who are other, God’s grace for the other, or in others words you. But in this case “you” doesn’t mean “me”.
Week 3 we observed the love of God in Christ has for us who are children of God, by the calling and will of God, not by our might.
Today we will be looking at what it means to be “together in Christ”. How do we live as healthy Christians in a healthy Church. Rather than divorcing the Christian and the Church, we will be considering how to live as disciples of Jesus with disciples of Jesus.
The desire is to draw us into the beautiful picture of who are to be as the Church, Christ’s Bride.
What does is mean to be healthy Christians in healthy Churches? Or what does it mean to be rooted Christians in grounded Churches?
Transition: 1 John 4 will aid us tremendously in answering this question.
Please stand for the reading of God’s Word
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
John is addressing issues in the churches of Asia Minor or modern-day Turkey. The main issue is that they do not believe they have sinned. Further, there are divisive people who have claimed that Jesus is not the Christ and did not come in the flesh.
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
“…the overarching theme of 4:7–21, that is, that loving one another is the mark of those who truly know God.”
Transition: It in the presence of those divisions that John is speaking into.
Vv. 7-10 Love others because God loves you
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
V7 “Beloved” John addresses his listeners with affection and care. He is giving an example in the manner of his writing just as he is calling his readers to. That is to love. He has been addressing this theme of love in the rest of the book and in the previous chapter.
My professor would refer to his wife as his beloved and I thought that was such a respectful way of speaking about his wife. I wanted to talk about my wife some day in that same way.
“Let us love one another!”
What a profound and beautiful statement, but how hard it is.
I lament the lack of love in my own heart. Or the refusal to give grace to others merely because it is inconvenient.
Let this be our anthem and our banner, healthy Christians love others, and specifically their brothers and sisters and Christ!
Love of God means love for the people who make up the Church, these CANNOT be separated without a devastating divorce and foolish bifurcation.
The evidence of having been born of God, that is a child of God, and disciple of Jesus is by love.
V. 8 the converse of v. 7 is true, that those who do not love, do not know God.
“ In this context John is saying that to know the love of God is to manifest his love.”
To experience God’s love is to express it, these go hand in hand.
“God is love” this statement tells us that God is the fullness of love and the one from whom all love flows. However, this does not also mean that “love is God”
All expressions that claim to be love are not in themselves truly lovely or loving.
The world does not define what love is, God does.
I googled “What is love?”
One of the first things to pop up was the 90’s song “what is love?” by artist Haddaway
What is love? Oh baby, don't hurt me Don't hurt me No more
Baby, don't hurt me, don't hurt me No more What is love? Yeah
If you’ve ever listened to this wildly popular song, have you ever noticed, he never gives an answer. It is this poignant reality that the world does not know what love is. The closest approximation he makes is the absence of pain or the presence of fidelity.
Another was an article on E-harmony’s website
Effortless Attraction and Passion:
But none of the things listed above mention God and so we know they cannot be true expressions of God’s love without him.
V. 9 the divine expression of God’s love is the incarnation of Jesus
Jesus is the fullness and revelation of the love of God
Note that it does not say “one of many” rather Jesus IS THE expression of God’s love. If you want to know love and the one from whom all love flows, you must know Jesus.
V.10 This love is seen when Christ was sent to save us from the damnation of our sins.
But he did not come because of our love for him, instead, he came in spite of our love. In the midst of our alienation and distance from God, he drew near. He the initiator and we those who respond.
God calls us to this same kind of love...
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
So often we try to twist and make the words of Jesus convenient. But Jesus calls us to no less than he himself has done. He loved us, who were his staunch enemies.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Love is a dangerous affair. C. S. Lewis quote...
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in the casket, safe, dark and motionless and airless it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” The Four Loves, p. 155
Transition: God not only Loves us, but lives in us and this enables us to love others.
Vv. 11-21 Love Others because God lives in you
V. 11 here John brings it full circle and drive the point home a second time, in light of God’s love for us in this profound way, we also ought to love one another.
If God’s love has in any way changed us, we ought to love each other
If we are playing at church and the implications, this statement is easy and benign. But if we mean it. I mean really mean it and are intent on being the church this changes everything.
How many times have you let a petty inconvenience ruin your opinion of someone? How often do we spend our breath on tearing down rather than building up?
Love of God and neighbor is found on the long road of obedience in one-direction. In following Jesus, it is what Bonhoeffer calls “single-minded obedience.”
This is not a light gentle suggestion, it is a requirement for God’s people. It is a part of the covenant, you are obligated to love.
But obligation does not negate affection, don’t you want to? Don’t you want to express familiarity and concern for our brothers and sisters? Does anyone else in all the world get our struggles as much as others who are united to Christ?
As God is in his character, so he calls us to be, “Those who are children of God must show mercy because he shows mercy (Luke 6:36), they must be holy since he is holy (1 Pet 1:15), and they must love since he loves.” Daniel Akin
V.12 The goal of God’s love for us in Christ is completed when we love one another.
How can we love each other? One way is to listen to each other. Bonhoeffer states,
“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them…Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either…We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.”
Bonhoeffer is not talking about the waiting for your turn to talk kind of listening. He is not speaking of listening with half an ear while watching the game. He is also not speaking of listening assuming you know all that the other is going to say. No, he is talking about being present and responsive to the concern and life of those around us. He even goes on to acknowledge that secular therapy has been greatly in the formed with healing that occur when a person is seriously listened to.
This requires that we see our brothers and sisters in Christ as an end in themselves and not a means. Presence with each other is the reward not the byproduct. Conversation is the reward not the vehicle to your desires. To know and to be known we must listen well. To love well, we must listen well.
Transition: The presence of God in our lives has implications spoken of in verses 13-18.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
V. 13 When the Holy Spirit indwells us and unites us to Christ we will testify to who Jesus is.
V. 14 we testify to who Jesus is, sent of the Father, and Savior of the World
Those who deny this are not from God nor are they his children.
These essential truths are not up for debate, they essential for us as a church to confess.
V. 15 Those who confess Jesus is the Son of God, “God abides in him and he in God.”
V. 16 The evidence we abide in God and he abides in us is love. This is the distinguishing mark of a Christian.
V. 17 God’s love is also completed in us when we have confidence and not fear on the coming day of Judgement.
v. 17-18 “These verses contain the third and fourth references to the completeness of love found in 1 John. The first is found in 2:5, where completeness of love for God is said to be expressed in obedience to his word. The second is found in 4:12, where God’s love is said to be made complete in believers when they love one another. Here in 4:17–18 love is said to have completed its work in believers when they can face the day of judgement without fear.”
v. 18 God’s love for his children drives out our fear of the coming judgement, when Jesus will return and judge the world.
Transition: Verses, 19-21 remind us who we are to love and the implications of not doing so.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
V 19 “We love because he first loved us.”
Our motivation and ability to love others, namely the other followers of Jesus, is possible because of how Jesus has loved us.
V. 20 you cannot say you love God and hate your brother!
I don’t know who and how many of us need to hear this today. It is not healthy to harbor hatred and bitterness for those in this Church and say you love God.
Loving God means that we love each other. As God has had Grace for the world and for us in this world, so we are to have love and grace.
Saying you love God and hating your brother makes the first statement untrue.
1 John 3:11–18 (ESV)
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
To hate your brother in this context is the example of Cain and Abel. Cain killed his brother because of his jealousy at Abel’s offering pleasing the lord. Instead of searching his heart or evaluating why his offering was not pleasing to the lord, his jealousy turned to rage and hate of his brother. 1 jn 3:15 even tells us that to hate another is to murder. Cain hated what was good and it led to bloodshed.
Illustration: Are you all familiar with Dr. Seuss? He’s kinda popular. Well he wrote a story about a green fellow whose name was the Grinch. The Grinch is unhappy at the happiness of the Whos in Whoville below him. He lives on a mountaintop unhappy and bitter. The happier the Whos are, the more he hates them for it. By all accounts it seems the joy of whoville is good, but the Grinch hates it all the more.
I’m going to insert some fan fiction. I wonder if the Grinch was a really a who from Whoville who began to hate his brothers and sisters. Instead of being happy with them, he became more embittered and spiteful. That is until one day, he no longer lived with them. He was alone filled with hate.
How do you respond to the good fortune of your brothers and sisters in Christ? When they get a raise do you rejoice with them or does jealousy boil up? When you and your spouse are in a season of waiting for a child and it seems that everyone around you is having kids, how do you respond? When a classmate Aces their test for the 5th time this semester, do you respond well? When those around you are enjoying seemingly endless summer trips are you happy for them or jealous your summer does not look the same?
The hate John is talking about is hate towards a brother or sister because of good and righteousness. To say we love God is to have great joy also for the good that befalls our brother’s and sisters. If the Lord blesses them and not us we ought to respond with joy for them, not hate for what we do not have.
When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is Matthew 22:37–39 (ESV) 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
These 2 commandments are quite unified. To love God is to love others. If you love God you will love others. If you say you love God and hate others, you do not really love God.
v. 21 To love God is to love others, these cannot be separated.
The author’s purpose in picking up this theme here is to reassure his readers who did love their fellow believers that they really knew God, and to show them that the claims of the secessionists to know him were false. 
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Yet obligation to love does not make the love inauthentic. We are taught to believe that if one has to then there can be no desire to do so. So also, we so neatly place obligation and authenticity into separate boxes. Rather, it is far more of a get to! We get to love each because of the great love God has shown us.
You can be obligated and genuine. A spouse is not disingenuous because they are obligated by the nature of convenant. A parent is not fake because they have responsibility to their child. No, in the Christian community, it is a get to sort of paradigm. The command should not rob us of affection for each other. It is reorienting to the reality of living together. We cannot escape the necessity of this love. As we have been loved, so too are we to love.
Transition: This love can be expressed in so many ways. Here are some humble suggestions.
Grace for one another
As we have experienced the love of God so you are to share it.
You are an end not a means. God wants you and he loves you because it is who he is. He did not love you because of what he can get out of you but because he loves. When you interact with others, remember that Jesus died for them too.
“When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer lived this and this makes the claim that much more poignant. After returning to Germany Bonhoeffer, was arrested and put in prison for his crimes. He stayed in prison nearly until the end of the war. But 3 weeks before the allies captured Berlin, he was killed on special orders of Heidrich Himmler. Thus, he became a martyr of the Christian Church.
A Christian is meant to be healthiest inside the Church, not outside of it.
Who are you investing in? Are you investing into the Body of Christ and those who are different than you? “How predictable are your relationships? Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with enjoying people similar to you. But it is a problem, and reveals a lack of Christlikeness, when you relate only or exclusively to the same sorts of people. What Christlikeness calls for, then, is biblical hospitality. But let me hasten to add, it only become biblical when we welcome people into our lives who are different from us—and thus stretch to enfold them into our lives. Pizza and football with the guys is fun, but it’s not biblical hospitality.” Todd Wilson Real Christian, p. 118
1 John 5:2 “2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”
“One cannot love God and keep his commands without loving the children of God, and one cannot love the children of God without loving God and keeping his commands (cf. 2:7–8; 3:22–24; 4:21).” 
the unpayable debt (Dave Ramsey got it wrong)
Romans 13:8–10 (ESV)
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Transition: I’d like to leave with a a picture of what we are to look like as Christians.
Conclusion – are we known by our love?
Stained glass windows a wonderful representation of what I see a healthy Christian’s life looks like. As the intricately shaped puzzle pieces of the window are interconnected, they can depict much. They tell of history of remind us of awe and beauty for the grandeur of creation.
But what they do so beautifully is filter the light from above. As the light shines through the stained glass, its mission is not obscured but fulfilled. You begin to understand what the artist intended.
Is your life marked by God’s light and love shining through you? The text of Scripture is replete with the encouragement to love because of how we have been loved. Saints of God, for this reason let us love not in theory, but as the apostle John commends, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 Jn. 3:18).”
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 23  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 18  Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000), 166.  Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 178.  Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 181.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together, p. 97  Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000), 166.
 Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000), 170.
 Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000), 172.
Grace from one to another
Grace from one to another
Christ to the other
Christ to me/us
Christ to each other “Healthy Christians in Healthy Churches”
Being the church “Healthy Church”