The Essence of Christianity #6

The Essence of Christianity #6

Why we should love one another in this way?

Because this is the most powerful testimony and witness the church of Jesus could have on this earth: “By this ALL people will KNOW that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

All People – not just inside the church or Christian world, nor just some.

Know –not just hear about it but will be convinced

When you love even in the midst of betrayals and denials’ – people will know that the love you have is not human but super natural and will know who your Father is.

Imagine a community:

  • With so much love for one another
  • With no needs among them, where people are encouraged, affirmed, loved, cared and nurtured

Who would not want to be part of a community like that?

Could loving one another in this way be connected to the fulfilment of Matt 24:14 –“…this gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness…”

I believe loving one another in this way is a critical part in the fulfilment of the great commission.

How can we have such a love for one another?

This kind of love is not possible by trying harder – it is only possible when:

  • We have denied ourselves (Matt 16:24)
  • When we have crucified ourselves (Gal 2:20)
  • When we have died to self (John 12:24)
  • When we abide in Christ (John 15)
  • When we are no longer in love with ourselves (Rev 12:11)

John gives us another key in John 14:15 as to how we can love like this:

If you love me – you will obey my commandments. So the answer is not by trying harder or by rules – but by loving Jesus more. If you love Jesus more – you will have the courage and desire to obey him!

After explaining what loving one another is all about John summarises the Essence of Christianity in Vs 23:“Believe in Jesus Christ and love each other.

That is it; everything else is a fruit of these two things!

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? – if not, why not?

Do you love one another – like we been looking at? What is stopping you?

The Essence of Christianity #5

The Essence of Christianity #5

Who are we to love this way?

Is this just talking about your wife, children or believers just in your local church or in your denomination?

No – it is talking about the global body of Christ.

Because we are one body just different members – Romans 12 and I Cor 12 explains to us how we are connected together – if one member hurts the whole body feels the pain.

Do you feel the pain when other believers are hurt? Persecuted? Did you know that it is estimated that this year more than 160,000 believers will be killed for no other reason than the crime of believing in Jesus? Number of Empart’s workers in some of the places where we work have been killed.

Do you feel the pain? According to the scripture we must! Because we are One body, We have One head and have only One Father and that we are brothers and sisters!

If you don’t feel the pain – you may have leprosy or other health issues – or at worst you may not be connected to the same body or head?

In other words – because of the blood of Christ – we shares the same blood line of Jesus – same eternal DNA! We are more connected than earthly relations who are outside of Christ!

In Matthew 25: 35-40, he further explains this:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me 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.”

When did we see you hungry, when did we see you thirsty? When, When – they asked

In Vs 40 – He says, as you did it to the one of the least of these my brothers – you did it to me.

According to this scripture our obligation is not to all the hungry and needy people of the world but to “my brothers”.

Who is Jesus’s brothers?

In Matthew 12:48 Jesus asks the question: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”

Vs 49, 50 he stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!   For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

According to this scripture obligation to feed, care, clothe, welcome and visit are those who do the will of the father –and if we don’t do that there is eternal consequences.

Many people misuse this scripture to make us guilty to for not caring for every need in the world. Yes we have obligations to the widows, orphans, poor and needy but not based on this passage but others!

I am constantly challenged and emotionally torn as I weave between brothers and sisters who have lost everything because they refuse to deny Jesus, widows, orphans who lost their husbands and fathers because they served Jesus. Thousands of pastor’s children not able to go to school and get an education because their parents decided to reach the unreached in remote locations with no schools and they can’t afford residential schools. Empart has started to build residential schools where we can educate such children. I don’t want the children of gospel workers to be illiterate or disadvantaged because their parents decided to serve Jesus.

I met one pastor who was selling his blood to get money to buy some gospel tracks and others fasting for days – not because they want to but because they have no food.

Just few months ago, we had the hottest summer – hundreds of our workers were hospitalised – not one of them have insurance, 4 of them died – they shouldn’t have died! It only cost just $1.50 a month to get them medical insurance for the entire family. Less than one cup of coffee!

Just from the waste of  western Christians, churches and institutions we can help them, care for their children. Much has been done and I thank you – but I believe much more can be done. But we need the convictions of these scriptures to awaken us from our apathy and comfort.

We are not supposed to be satisfied by giving 10% nor have spiritual pride by giving 12% – if we have the means, we should do all that we can to help.

In 1 Cor 16, Paul gives the instructions to the Corinthian church to help and care for the brothers and sisters in need in Jerusalem – He does not say take up an annual collection or a monthly missions offering rather set aside every week!

The reference to Cain in Vs 12 here is important:

Because not only did he kill Abel, he didn’t have ears to hear Abel’s blood crying out. He was so full of himself in Gen 4:9, When God asked “where is your brother?” his response was: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In the context of the new commandment and I John – we should not have any doubt in this – that we are our brother’s keepers!

The Essence of Christianity #4

The Essence of Christianity #4

1.     We are to love like Jesus (that you love one another: just as I have loved you)

How did he love us?

In John 13 – where he asks to love one another, he was troubled because of betrayal and denial – but he still loved them and asks us to do the same.

Rom 5:8, while we were perfect and a saint, he loved us? No – while we were yet sinners!

I Peter 4:8 ‘Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – so even sin should not allow hate or bitterness to bread in us!

We are to Love – Not because they deserve to love but because the Lord commands us to love.

2.     We are to love not just with words but through actions

Scripture also challenges us not to be just academic and knowledgeable about this love. Not just show love through words, emails, and social media? – Not through empty words – but through actions that is sincere.

I John 3: 18 –“Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – Just as He loved us. He didn’t just send a love letter from heaven!

Vs 17 – But if anyone has the things that another brother needs and yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

If you have two jackets – pray for God to give the other brother one?!

The early church understood the meaning of this much more than we do:

Acts 4:34 & 35

  • There was not a needy person among them…”
  • They sold lands, houses and things and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as they had needs.

The value of this may not be understood in a culture where you have so much help from Govt and NGO’s but when you come to some of the areas where we are working you will know how important such love in action is. Where people are literally thrown out of homes and villages because they became Christians, not allowed to use the community wells for water and treated like someone with an infectious disease. When this happens all that is left to you is other believers and the church! We have been helping and caring for hundreds of people like this!

Action not just out of comfort or convenience but sacrificial – selling and giving!

3.     We are to love by laying down our lives

1 John 3:16 – That he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

The depth of our love for one another is demonstrated by our willingness to give our lives for other believers!

The significance of this can’t be understood in America, you have to go and be with the persecuted believers to understand what it means to lay down our lives for others! Few years ago in one of the areas where we were working persecution broke out and they were beating one of local pastors, seeing this one of the young men got involved and shouting the pastor, please run the whole church need you run, as the young men got involved the pastor was freed and he run into the forest. But that young man was beaten to death.

By visiting such communities I have come to understand the scriptures in a very different light to sitting in an AC room!

When visiting one such community I asked one of our workers, are you not afraid to die? They looked at me like I was a heathen – they said, something so profound that still challenges and shakes me: brother, when we came to Jesus we already died – if we are already dead – how can anyone kill us again? 

Perhaps we are afraid to lay down our life and die because we never died as Christ expected us in the first place?

This does not mean that we have to die foolishly – No but if required are you willing?

 

The Essence of Christianity #3

The Essence of Christianity #3

With what kind of Love are we to love one another?

Love is a funny word – we tell our dog and cat we love them and then turn to our wife and kids – we love them! Are they the same love? – Some of you may think it is the same or worst – you love your dog or cat more?! A friend of mine says – he hopes that he and the dog would never be sick at the same time – because he knows who will get looked after first and better?!!

So with what kind of love are we to love one another?

In this there are 4 clear challenges before us (I say challenges because as I look at them – I am deeply confronted and convicted – I still have a long way to go! Please pray for me.):

1.     God kind of Love

Well since we are God’s children and that He is our Father – we should love like He does. Bible says – God is love – NOT that He has love – but He is love. So we the children of God must love like Him because we are also love – not just have love!

God’s kind of love is explained in 1 Cor 13. We normally read this in the context of a wedding but this scripture was not written for a wedding – but for a church that was deeply divided!

The qualities of God kind of love are explained, so when we love one another these qualities must be evident:

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Generous – not just taking but giving
  • Humility – Not arrogant or rude
  • Courteous – Not rejoice at wrongdoing
  • Not Selfish
  • Not easily angered
  • Thinks no evil
  • Sincerity – Rejoices in the truth
  • Bears, believes, hopes and Endures all things
  • We are to love with a Never failing love

We can see everyone of this is evident in Jesus’s life and ministry – and we are to follow and imitate him. That is why He said – As I have loved you.

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