Because we are loved, we love and serve Christ in Community through Commission for His glory
Because we are loved:
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.(1 John 4:10)
What is love?
The biblical definition of love is something we find difficult to grasp because every other expression of love we see in the world is selfish and corrupted. The bible always defines love as committed, costly and sacrificial.
John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Why does the verse say that we haven’t loved God? How can you say that? I’m a loving person and I think I would love God!
To get an accurate picture of ourselves we need to look at the Bible. And the Bible is pretty descriptive about our condition.
Rom 5:8: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:10: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by his death, much more, now that we are reconciled shall we be saved through his life.
It says that we were enemies of God by nature and by our actions. Enemies hate each other. Living in constant rebellion even though we’ve been created and sustained by God. Instead of finding our pleasure, joy and identity in God our Creator…we’ve found it in cheap substitutes. The god we worship is not the One true God but created beings and created things which are not worthy of worship and pleasure. So we find pleasure, purpose, security and identity in our jobs, family, friends, money, technology, entertainment, sensual pleasures and the biggest idol we worship is ourselves. We fail to see how we’re truly bound and worshippers of these idols. The worst part is that we don’t even know that we’re enemies of God. Eg: child and Father.
Now let’s answer the question: Do we really love God?
Because God is Holy and Just. He can’t simply overlook and pardon the sins of people. If He’s a Righteous Judge, he’ll need to punish people for their sins. And the Bible says that “The wages of sin is death”. Eternally we are separated and destined to face God’s wrath because we were enemies of God.
And so this is love….
Even though we were enemies of God deserving nothing else but the righteous judgment of God, God sent His one and only Son – Jesus to rescue us. And this rescue act happened not in great pomp but by dying a horrible death on the cross for your sins and mine. 2000 years ago God executed His righteous judgment on sinners by nailing the sins on the cross. Jesus died for you so that the title of being an “enemy of God” could be removed from you forever and so that you could now find your joy, identity, purpose and security in God and not in the things of the world as we once did!
Was it committed? Yes, he endured a painful, agonizing death on the cross to save us from the wrath of God.
Was it costly? Yes, it cost him his life and dignity….just imagine the Creator of the world dying as a criminal. But because his righteous death was accepted by God, He was raised from the dead three days later demonstrating that we could also experience life with God when we put our trust and faith in Jesus.
Was it sacrificial? Yes, tremendously sacrificial. He died for his enemies….people who don’t deserve such a sacrifice and a gift. But he did it out of love.
Therefore, this committed, costly, sacrificial love of Christ forms the basis and the reason for everything that we do.
We love and serve Christ:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)
Q. What does it mean to love the Lord with all our heart? What does it mean to love the Lord with all our soul? What does it mean to love the Lord with all our mind?
Again this love is a committed, costly, sacrificial love that we are talking about here. And the word Lord is important because it means “we belong to Christ, He owns us, He is our Master, He is supreme in authority and He decides what’s right and wrong in my life”.
Looking at this verse is there any aspect of your life which shouldn’t be surrendered to God? Nothing! All our heart, all our soul and all our mind! The good news about Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins drives us to respond in whole hearted surrender.
And this is what we as humans struggle with. We are okay with people as long as we don’t need to submit to them. Nobody tells us what to do. Nobody tells us what’s right or wrong about my life! And it’s to that….that God says: “Love the Lord……..”
And often people like the idea of a loving God who would do so much for us. But they stumble and stutter at the demand of surrender. Especially what’s being asked out here: whole hearted surrender! What we fail to understand is what was done for us. If we truly knew and understood the depth of the sacrifice of Christ, we would have no other option but to explode in praise, gratitude and self-surrender!
A person who truly sees his sins being nailed on the cross will respond by placing his affections, will and mind completely on the foot of the cross.
Q. Why does God want us that kind of commitment and surrender? Why not half hearted surrender?
Because God is glorified when His people live completely surrendered lives to Him. That kind of obedience, commitment and surrender to God tell about His value. Inevitably what we’re proclaiming through our “surrender” is that God is so valuable, so treasured, so important, so honoured that He deserves my utmost devotion and surrender. And half-hearted devotion won’t communicate that. Half-hearted devotion belittles His glory and diminishes His value. It’s not right and worthy of our King and Lord!
Secondly, we need to understand that whole hearted surrender is for our good. We were created by God for His glory. When we love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind….we will be satisfied! Nothing else and nobody else in the world can give you that satisfaction. Your Creator knows what’s best for you and what will give you the most joy. Whole hearted surrender displays God’s glory and gives you immense pleasure because you’re fulfilling the purpose of your life.
When you hear the words…surrender, devotion, whole hearted commitment, does that ring true of your relationship with Christ? Also, another thing that I believe is critical out here is our loyalty to Scripture.
You can’t love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind apart from Scripture.
The way you treat Scripture in your life often speaks about your devotion. Why? Because God speaks through His Word. And then your obedience to God’s Word speaks a lot about your commitment. In other words, you want to know what your surrender and devotion is like? Look closely at your attitude towards studying and obeying Scripture.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:24, 25)
Another key aspect of our faith is that it is lived out in the context of community. John Piper says “Eternal security is a community project”. What he’s trying to say is that you cannot live your Christian life apart from Christian community. One of the biggest heresies of this age is the heresy of having Jesus as your “personal Savior”. Now let me clarify what I mean by that. I’m not talking about personal faith in Jesus. There needs to be personal faith applied in salvation. Your parents’ faith or friend’s faith cannot save you. You need to personally trust in the finished work of Jesus. Secondly, I affirm that Christ relates with each and every one of us personally and intimately…that’s the joy of the Christian life. However, the heresy that I’m talking about is a personal salvation that’s isolated from other believers where they aren’t involved and they don’t speak into your life and neither do you do the same for them.
And the gospel does address this issue. The gospel in fact fuels our love for our brothers and sisters because it has lifted off the focus from ourselves and cause to think, love and care for others.
I love this verse from Hebrews because it talks about a kind of an intentional thinking and observation about our brothers and sisters…why? Not simply but because we want to encourage them. In fact the word “stir up or spur” actually in the Greek means to trigger, kindle and fan into flame one another to what? Love and good deeds.
When was the last time that was the thought process or reason for coming to a GC? When was the last time that was the mentality you had before you came to a Sunday morning Gathering?
When was the last time you met up with a believer with the intention of fanning into flame his love for Christ and his love for his brothers and sisters? Doesn’t this passage cause you to reflect on your life in the same way?
And that’s why we meet in GC’s each week. Gospel Community allows you to open your life to other believers and have them walk with you as you live out your faith.
And it’s a command….do not neglect to meet together as some are in the habit of doing but strengthen each other and all the more as the Day of the Lord approaches. And it’s a serious question to ask ourselves. What kind of priority do we place on community life? By that I mean the intentional thinking, meeting and acting to encourage your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet 2:9)
It’s just interesting how this verse is framed. It doesn’t start out by stating the task or the mission but by mentioning a description of the identity. The identity defines the action.
Believers are chosen, favourite, picked out ones by God. Have you ever wondered what it must be to be chosen by God? All of us get excited when we’re picked out for a certain privileged task in our college or workplace. Just imagine being chosen by God. It goes on to say that we’ve got kingly responsibilities! We are chosen by the King of Kings to be His representative on earth! Wow.
A multitude selected to be set apart and consecrated for a very important task. We are a people who have been chosen to be His property! This identity, task and privilege should blow our minds. The reason for that is the next half of the verse which says “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
We’ve been chosen to declare the excellencies of God who called us out of ignorance, ungodliness and idolatry leading to hell into the pure, extraordinary presence of God! What a transformation!
What a great privilege! What a wonderful God!
What would it mean for you to look at your co-workers, neighbours, and people of the city and be God’s representative to them declaring His excellencies and telling them of how he called you out of darkness into his marvellous light?
We weren’t supposed to have this privilege. We didn’t deserve it. We deserved hell but God in His mercy though Christ saved us and now appoints us to be His chosen representatives to a lost and dying world! Feel the weight of that grand purpose! Doesn’t every other purpose pale in comparison to this? What other purpose are you living for? Remember this has to do with your identity. If you see yourself as an employee, you’ll do your best to please your boss. But if you see yourself as a rescued and appointed priest of God….what will your job description look like? What will your lifestyle look like? What will your conversations with people look like?
For His glory:
What is the end purpose of all this? Why do we love and serve Christ? Why do we immerse ourselves and serve each other in community? Why do we passionately seek the lost with the gospel?
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom 11:36)
His glory! For Him alone.
It’s from Him (Because we are loved)
And through Him (we love and serve Christ in Community through Commission)
And it’s to Him (For His glory)
It’s not for the Gathering, it’s not for some personal accomplishment of ours…but the end goal is the glory of God. Seeing Him be magnified because we know that He initiated it, He sustains it and He accomplishes it! How does that speak to our hearts that struggle with self-centredness? Let’s evaluate…when we think about all that we spoke today: loving and serving Christ, in community, through Commission, what’s your biggest motivation for doing all this? If we’ve had any other motivation, what would it mean for us to repent of that sin and trust in His purpose of doing everything for His and only His glory!