We Instead of Me - Take Two

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Do we understand how critical love is to the church?
John 13:34–35 ESV
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We NEED TO BE CONNECTED TO ONE ANOTHER. It is about Real Relationships based on Real Love that facilitates Real Change that affects our life in a Real Way!

The Call to love others as Christ loves others is a Call to Self-Sacrifice.

This kind of Self-Sacrifice kind of love takes the initiative. It does not wait for someone to love us like this first—we do it first! And, we continue to love others like this!
This kind of Self-Sacrifice kind of love demonstrates an unreserved trust in God.
Established in the reality of Christ’s resurrection.
Revealed through God’s written Word.
Empowered by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.
This kind of Self-Sacrifice is not about winning an argument, it is about winning the prize.
Philippians 3:14 ESV
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Winning the prize is all the fulness of blessings and rewards in the age to come, most especially being in perfect fellowship with Christ forever.

The Call to Love Others as Christ Loves Others is a Call to Inclusivity.

Racism, arrogance, mockery, and belittling, have no place in the Kingdom of God.
We reach out to people—even those that do not know Christ—even those that do not share your political point of view—even those that you find offensive.
For the most vile, most undeserving human being—Jesus loved!
The love that Christ demonstrates was and is an unconditional love that seeks the greatest good in another.
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We love people because Jesus loved people! He did not stay in heaven. He become one of us! He died for us! For the sinner!
Do we really understand this?
Has this truth reached to the depth of our being?
Does this truth shape our words, our conversations, our attitudes?
Or, have we become comfortable with exclusivity. Looking at our neighbors, our community, our culture with such distain we wouldn’t shed a tear if they all go to hell!

The Call to Love Others as Christ Loves Others is a Call to Generosity.

Generosity speaks of giving our time. It speaks of listening to others with respect. It speaks of forgiveness and not holding grudges. It speaks of compassion for the hurting, the destitute, the disenfranchised, and the poor.
God is calling us to be generous with our love!
This is the NEW COMMAND that Jesus gives His Church—that we love others like He loved others.
It is a choice. We are given a choice whether or not to live by this command.
HOWEVER, when a person lives in the saving grace of God, there is something that so powerfully motivates us to love like Christ!
2,000 years ago, a Christian leader by the name of Paul wrote to a church that needed reminding of who they were in Christ. Paul wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NLT
14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
God has called us to a new way of living. Let us not live like the world. The world hates. The world holds grudges. The world belittles others. The world demeans and tears others apart.
We are not to live like the world.
Jesus told His disciples:
Matthew 5:43–48 NLT
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
God is saying to us—love like Christ. Take your love to the level of a genuine follower of Christ.
In the last book of the Bible—Revelation—Jesus gave a message to the church. It is a message we cannot afford to ignore—or pretend it does not apply.
Revelation 2:2–5 ESV
2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
The vision begins with repentance!
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