TEACHER:  Ken Hicks 

SCRIPTURES: John 13:31-35

BOTTOM LINE: Let’s be a community that lives by our Faith and experience of Christ in us … and known by our LOVE for one another!

QUESTION: As Christians, are  we are more known for what we are against than what we are for?

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Dan Kimball wrote a book called I Like Jesus, But Not the CHURCH, and in it they interviewed literally 100’s of people asking their opinions on Jesus and Christians.

Dan said when we asked people about Jesus and what they thought of Him, their faces would light up. They would say things like ‘Jesus was beautiful.’ ‘I want to be like Jesus.’ ‘Jesus was a liberator of women.’   ‘I’m all about Jesus.’ ‘I want to be a follower of Jesus.’ ‘Jesus was enlightened and had a higher truth.’

However … with the 2nd question … their expressions changed dramatically.  ‘Christians have taken the teachings of Jesus and really messed them up.’ ‘I would want to be a Christian, but I have never met one.’ ‘Christians are dogmatic and close-minded.’ ‘Christians are supposed to be loving, but I’ve never met any who are.’

Christians have a political agenda, they are judgmental and negative … it is male dominated … they are homophobic … arrogant concerning other religions … and often hate-filled.’

I’ve often wondered … how is it possible that Jesus … and the Faith that bears His Name … literally became such polar opposites in the eyes of the world?

In the farewell of Jesus, we have all the elements of a Jewish farewell appear, which was important when we think thru just how pertinent this message was that Jesus would share here.

John 13:34-35 …  “34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

It isn’t that this is a new command that the Disciples had never heard before,this is all over the Gospels.  We see it all throughout the OT even.  What was new is the mode of love we are to have.  Jesus said, love one another in the same way that I have loved you.

N.T. Wright said … This passage is the Badge that the Christian community wears before the watching world.

LOVE … Love One Another!

This is what I think led the Early Church to grow as fast as it did.  They lived in a world a lot like ours.  They had to deal w/ Wars … other Religions … different opinions on Sexuality … it was a pagan culture then, much like we experience today.

But the difference is that we don’t read in the history books about the Church protesting, trying to get the Government to do what they wanted too.  Instead,they infiltrated the world they lived in by their Love for God and each other!

 

APPLICATION:  

We could go join any other Club in the city … a running club … a sports team … a group of stay-at-home moms … a career cohort … you name it … but what Jesus is trying to say here is … There should be something different about THE CHURCH!

ONE AUTHOR puts it like this … Nothing so astonishes a fractured world as a community in which radical, faithful, genuine love is shared among its members. There are many places you can go to find communities of shared interest.

There are many places you can go to find people just like yourself, who live for sports or music or gardening or politics. But it’s the mandate of THE CHURCH to become a community of Love, a circles of Christ’s followers who invest in one another because Christ has invested in them, who exhibit love not based on the mutuality and attractiveness of its members, but on the model of Christ who washed the feet of everyone.

And I’m not sure there’s anything more challenging than learning how to LOVE … How do we LOVE someone when we get no LOVE in return sometimes? Only withdrawal or ingratitude?

How do we LOVE without being trapped or used by the other person? How do we LOVE when we have our own Problems? When do we take care of ourselves?

How do we LOVE with both Compassion & Honesty? When we are compassionate, people use us; but when we are honest, people get angry. So where’s the Balance?

This is how Paul Miller answers that question … We instinctively know that LOVE leads to commitment, so we look away when we see someone on the street corner asking for help. It might cost us some of our resources if we look too closely and care too deeply. Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money and our time. When we LOVE, we cease to be the Master and become the Servant.

Let’s be a community that lives by our Faith and experience of Christ in us … and known by our LOVE for one another!