Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
May 9, 2021
- How Great Thou Art
- 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.The Disciples were tempted to focus only on JesusSometimes people want to be the teacher’s pet. It’s less true now than it used to be. But it’s always been true to a certain extent. “If I can get the teacher’s favor I’ll be taken care of.” So the temptation is there to compete with the other disciples. We see that in many places where they debated about who was the greatest or had designs on who would sit on his right or his left. This always leads to bickering and pettiness, something that can really bring us down. We may feel we have to unload, then feel ashamed afterwards. It’s a bad cycle that makes us shy away from being with others. And it makes us unhappy.11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.It’s not just about Jesus correcting the disciples and proving them wrong. He truly wants the best for them as any good teacher does. So he tells them what they need to know to avoid pain. It’s not always what they want to hear. But it’s the truth and it’s a better way to live. That the Joy of Jesus might be in you, disciples. I think that points to two things: it means Jesus will be happier about the whole situation and it means they will be happier too.And I wish I could say that all that struggle ended 2,000 years ago, but maybe each generation has to learn this all over again. And maybe we have to relearn it at each stage of life.We may struggle with “Me and Jesus” SyndromeWe think: church is great, it’s the people I can’t deal with! :)Well, newsflash: the people are the church. It’s about the relationships. Even the ones that rub us the wrong way.There is no individual plan of salvation. Only a family plan. You don’t get to choose your relatives. You are born into it. That’s why church shopping isn’t a great idea. It causes us to keep our distance and focus too much on ourselves.12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.It’s not optional. It doesn’t say a few others. It doesn’t say tolerate. It says, say it with me, love one another.Abide in My LoveAt the very beginning here Jesus uses the phrase “Abide in my love.”That gets back to what I was talking about a couple weeks ago: to truly live in the love of Jesus. To draw your spiritual power from that love. To let Him be the strength of your life. That comes from loving one another.9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.that’s how it was to work for the disciples: they receive the love of Jesus then, they pass it on so they don’t break off the flow.Jesus is saying: this is the good part. Don’t miss it. Love one another.It’s time to get realHere’s an ironic one. People will often say before they leave a church: I’m just not being fed. For reasons that will be clear in a moment, I say “hog wash”. First of all, you’re an adult, so learn to feed yourself. Just like we sing: This is my daily bread, your very Word, spoken to me. This is the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me. Even if the preacher is dumb as a stump or doesn’t care you can feed on the word of God daily. Nobody can keep you from being fed. But if the preacher is asking you to look within and make some changes that’s what true feeding is sometimes. That uncomfortable feeling might be annoying but it might just be the Holy Spirit showing you what needs to change and it might be you. And if you want to be part of the deep things of God, here we are:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.The deep things of God don’t come from a certain style of preaching or music. They come from getting real and loving others. Jesus says: look I’m expecting more of you because you’re not servants, you’re friends. But friends of mine do what I do. So love others. Be advanced. Don’t be petty.Now if someone isn’t preaching from the Bible maybe they aren’t feeding you what they could. But most of the time what people really mean is: something is out of sorts in a relationship and I’m not willing to fix it because I know it will require more from me. It’s easier to blame someone else and walk away with my pride. And hey, if you have the guts to just own that, it would be better than trying to claim it’s about something else. But the best thing would be to do. what. Jesus. said. Say it with me: “Love one another as I have loved you.”Not feeling fed is not an excuse to not love, to not work things out. I learned this lesson when I was 20 years old and for the first time preaching outside my home church. I was filling in for a pastor friend in another town where my wife’s grandparents happened to live. Afterwards a man came up to me and complimented me on the sermon. And I couldn’t believe the next words he said. “I haven’t been fed here for a long time.” Something in me said: oh so this is what it’s like? You can knock yourself out as pastor doing everything right and then someone can compare you to some 20 year old like me and negate your whole ministry? Sure a little part of me was tempted to feel pride in what he said. But I didn’t bite. I said, sir I’m so glad God spoke to you today through the message. But I know you have an excellent pastor. I know God speaks through him also. And then I said a 20 year old version of: keep listening for God to speak and he will always speak. I knew I wasn’t a better preacher. I knew I didn’t know better what this man needed from God. I’d only been there once maybe for Bible quizzing in my whole life. But maybe we do gymnastics in our head to avoid facing the hard stuff sometimes. Now I don’t say this to judge this man. He probably believed it when he said it. And he wasn’t expecting my response and I think it made him rethink it.But Jesus clearly says, there’s nothing more advanced than loving one another. I’ve studied the original languages until I had vocabulary flash cards coming out of my ears. I wrote them out by hand to try to learn better. But that’s no replacement for the love of God flowing from one human life to another. And that hurts sometimes. And that asks something of us. But it’s where the best part of being a Christian is found. Love one another.Now it’s a holy love, because God is holy. But it’s love. And he calls us deeper still into love.The Good StuffI wanna be a good pastor. I want to be a good preacher. I think I try pretty hard at it. But this is the key to you being able to grow. Take what happens in your prayer closet and translate it into loving one another. That’s what I love about TLC on Wednesday nights. It’s been rough dealing with the pandemic. But one thing good about gathering remotely midweek has been we are all in our homes where the rubber meets the road at being a Christian. And yet we are together. And when we pray out loud maybe our neighbors will overhear. And when we rejoice, that floods our home with the joy of the Lord. And we can’t pretend because real life is just inches away. So even in all this we can find ways to keep loving one another. God works it all together for our good.Amen? It’s not a suggestion. It’s a command. Love one another. But it’s not really burden. Jesus said its the best part. So his joy can be in us and our joy can be real, can be complete. Let’s pray...
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