This week as we take our excursions into John’s first letter, we are looking at the mark of the Christian, which is Provocative Faith. Last week we saw the foundation is the love of God. As a Christian we are forgiven and have the freedom to obey God and live for him.
This week we are looking at our love for one another.
Our text this week is 1 John 4:9-12
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. –1 John 4:9-12
We are called to love one another, to serve one another.
LOVE IS PRACTICAL
Loving one another takes place in the context of community.,
but it also defines community. Christian community is to be radically different than any other group that comes together.
The earliest picture of this community is seen in Acts.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47
This LOVE and COMMUNITY is different than any other.
One of the values here at Big Creek reflects this picture.
Doing Life Together.
Living our Lives BEFORE one another and WITH one ANOTHER
Yes, we all want this….
We will have buy in to community but are we really achieving it?
Illustration: In Orlando, there was a builder who was building homes to foster community. His homes had front porches. But he realized that no community was being achieved. People bought into the idea of community, but they didn’t want to do what it took to actually cultivate.
Dallas Willard makes the same point in response to the question raised over why are so many young people desirous for community?
“People are lonely and they hurt. They don’t know why that they think community might solve that, but when they look community in the face and realize that it means raw, skin to skin contact with other people for whom you have become responsible…that’s when they back away.” – Dallas Willard, in an interview with Relevant Magazine
What are the lies that we are believing that are keeping us from achieving true, authentic loving community?
What are the barriers we are putting between us and true community?
What are the loves that we love more than loving one another in true community?
I am sure some of you are thinking, community sounds good,
Perhaps you are saying….
I’ve been hurt.
Perhaps the memories are vivid and the wounds you’ve faced are fresh. You’ve been hurt by another’s careless words, perhaps you trusted someone – gave them a confidence and they violated it. Perhaps you have felt hurt because you were not attacked but merely ignored. No one seemed to care to reach out to you.
If you have never been hurt by people, you have never been around people.
“The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
In our relational hurts, we erect walls.We keep people at arms length or we let them only get so close. Not only don’t we want to give love to others, we are not willing to receive their love and relationship.
Perhaps you are saying in your heart, community just isn’t worth it, it is too hard, it asks too much.
Building true community takes time and effort. Are you believing the lie ofwhy bother?
People are going to move away, I’m going to move away.
People are needy, they have needs and I just can’t be bothered, its too inconvenient
Community doesn’t just happen overnight, it isn’t instant- just add water. It takes time, attention and nurture.
The last thing that is what is preventing us from building community is the most INSIDIOUS.
The Zeitgeist-The Spirit of the Age.
Our Hurriedness. We are often chasing the urgent things of life that aren’t always that important. Community, relationships are often never urgent, but very important.
Our busyness allows us to Neglect Community. I’m too busy, I don’t have time, and it’s not a priority.
What is causing us to feel like we need to be so busy?
Are we allowing our busyness to simply numb the need for community?
To the point where we don’t think we need other people?
How do we overcome our hurts,
persevere when it’s hard
and break free of our hurriedness?
We need the healing of the Gospel.
People will disappoint, they will hurt us.
Our spouse will hurt us and disappoint us.
Our parents will hurt us and disappoint us.
Our friends and our fellow Christians with hurt us and disappoint us.
Your pastors will hurt you and disappoint you.
I will hurt you and disappoint you.
And if we are looking for the support, safety and security from other people. If all that we are clinging to are other people.
It is as if we are hanging over a chasm, and if all we are clinging to are other people, when they disappoint, and hurt us it is like people dropped in a chasm. We experience hurt and pain.
Unless we are tethered on belay with Gospel. WE NEED GOSPEL Belay
It is allowing the Gospel to define us, defend us.
When we are on Gospel belay, WE ARE SAFE.
So even though others may disappoint us, with Gospel belay we know that God won’t.
Even though others may reject us, with Gospel belay we are secure that God won’t reject us.
Even though others may withhold love from us, with belay we are able to experience God’s love lavished on us.
With Gospel belay we can risk in entering into relationships.
We need his strength to persevere when it is hard.
Early in his career, Barnum created an exhibit, entitled the Happy Family consisting of a cage housing a lion, a tiger, a panther and a baby lamb. The remarkable display earned Barnum unprecedented publicity and attendance figures. Some time after its opening, Barnum was asked – “How long will you keep doing this.” Barnum answered, “The display will become a permanent feature” he declared “if the supply of lambs holds out.”
We can settle for the superficial facade of community. Of course we can find that anywhere.
But if we want true community it will require hard work.
Hard work in forgiving others
Hard work in serving others
Hard work in persevering with others who are going through tough times
But if we allow the Holy Spirit that indwells us to manifest his power in and through us
And in our hurriedness we need to stop running away, and ask God for the courage to truly love one another in community. Loving one another isn’t an option. We just can’t say it isn’t on our to-do list.
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:20-21
We need the courage to say No to all the other good things in our life and be willing to say Yes to the best, our relationships.
We need the courage to face up to our heart and why we are pushing out relationships in our life.
Where are you today?
Wherever you are you need to take the next step
Doorways into community:
Serving together Discipleship Serving others
Life Groups Hospitality Praying together
Some of you are more connecting and building true community with others – Keep persevering!
While some of us continue to remain of periphery not allowing ourselves to connect with others, you need to take the next step and walk through one of these doorways!
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18
Illustration, Mississippi trip
Additional Resource: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer