We have had such a full month of fellowship and celebration in April and it is swiftly coming to an end. We have celebrated Resurrection Sunday, our second pastoral anniversary together, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and, on Saturday, Lord willing, we will have another time to come together at the Adult Prom. It is always easy and fun to come together with people that you like, those who are family, friends, and acquaintances. But, when the church comes together, the body of Christ, something else is supposed to be happening. You see, when we come together as church family, it is not supposed to just be with people that we like; it is supposed to be with people that we love.
I love Zion Memorial. I do not love 101 North Dunleith Avenue. No, I love Zion Memorial, my church family...even when I may not always like what I see and hear.
It is the mark of being a Christian that we love not just like.
Our love should supersede our like of other people, Christians, our church family, in particular.
It starts with our church family and then emanates into our homes, our communities, our jobs, wherever we go.
People will see a difference in you because you are different because of who is inside of you, the promised Holy Spirit as a mark that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.
We can sing, "Yes, Jesus loves me, because the Bible tells me so"; but, will we receive the love of Jesus as Savior and reject the charge, the command, of Jesus as Lord?
You see, the love we have received is supposed to be the love that we share. It is supposed to show the world that you are a Christian.
What do I mean?
In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
How did Jesus love you? He left heaven to come to earth for you. He did not stay home and love from afar. He put himself in your shoes by becoming like you in every way, tempted but not yielding temptation. He did not criticize you for not being like Him. He gave all that He had to show you He could do anything but fail and would do anything to help you to succeed. He did not tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and every man, or woman, for themselves. He laid down His life for you on the cross. He did not say I have got mine, you get yours. He sat down beside the Father in Heaven and continues to intercede on your behalf. He did not retire to a life of ease, choosing a reassignment to continue His ministry begun on earth and continuing into Heaven.
Basically, Jesus loved and loves you to becoming your best you, sometimes in spite of you and even when you may feel, think and act as if you could care less about Jesus. He never, ever, gives you reason to doubt that He loves you.
Now, if Jesus can do that for the whole world, can we not do that for our family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, coworkers, whoever God sends along our way?
I cannot love the whole world; but, I can love those in the world who God sends into my life.
Why? I want people to know that I am a Christian and that I want to love the way that I have been loved, am being loved, and will always be loved.
And, the only way that I can show anyone that I am a Christian is to love the way that Jesus loved me.
Is it hard sometimes? Yes. I believe it was hard for Jesus sometimes too.
Is it worth it always? Yes. I believe that Jesus knew that we were more valuable to Him than we could possibly know.
Can we do it? Only with the help of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - who will never leave us or forsake us.
So, how would anyone know that you are a Christian? Only by your love.
So, let us love one another as Jesus loved us, past our faults and failures, let us love. And, then, someone will know that you are a Christian.
Tonight, we continue our journey in learning more about Prayer. We will be discussing Chapter 7 - Rules For Prayer.
Prayer is the key to learning more about God's love, receiving more of God's love, and preparing to share more of God's love.
Come and bring someone with you.
And, remember, God loves you and I love you too.