Maybe you have heard people say that they love Jesus, but don’t like the church. These people think they can have a relationship with Jesus apart from his church. There is even a book written entitled “They like Jesus, but not the church” by Dan Kimball. There are so many wrong things with claiming to love Jesus and then not loving his church. If you don’t love the church, then you don’t love God. IF you don’t love your brother and sister, how can the love of God be in you?
Tragedy tends to bring people together very quickly; we are familiar with slogans such as “united we stand” “Boston strong” It is in those moments that we realize that unless we remain united we won’t survive. It is during those times that we stop being selfish and think of others; it is in those times that we see people for who they are and not based on their skin color, political preferences, social status, etc. All of a sudden, people begin to care for each other in ways you never thought possible. The disheartening thing is that this is the only time some people experience unity or benefit from it.
One of the best ways for the church today to understand its mission is to take a closer look at the life of Jesus. Jesus was on a mission when he came and he was all about fulfilling his mission for the glory of God the Father. When we are not sure what our mission as followers of Jesus is in this world, we need to take a closer look at Jesus. Because the church is the incarnation of Jesus in the world.
Followers of Jesus are to imitate his teachings; there are many people who called themselves Christians, but their lives, behavior don’t reflect Jesus. I think people should stop calling themselves Christian if they are not going to love others the way Jesus asked us to love them. Another area in which many Christians misrepresent Jesus in our world, is when it comes to forgiveness. There are followers of Jesus who have a really difficult time forgiving a brother or sister. If you are one of those who really struggle forgiving their brother or sister, I hope you are ready to journey through God’s word so we can see why forgiveness really matters.
There is so much hate in our world, in our country, communities. People need to see love, experience love, the world needs to learn what love is all about.
Jesus once said that the whole law of God and the prophesies are summed up in two commandments. To love God and love people. This world would be a completely different place if we just lived out these two commandments.
Today I would like to talk about another word we Christians throw around a lot and at many times, we don’t quite understand its meaning. It is the word “grace.” We hear things like you are saved by grace and there’s nothing you could have done. Salvation is a gift, that you don’t deserve it. Just as we spent time last week looking at God’s love and what we mean when we say it’s unconditional, today I want us to spend some time looking at God’s grace. What is it? What do we mean when we say we are saved by grace?
One of the most discussed topics in the Bible is the love of God, but I believe it’s one of the most misunderstood when left to our own explanation. To understand God’s love, its nature, we must go to the Scriptures to see how God himself defines his love. Sometimes we talk about God’s love being unconditional, but we fail to expand or explain really what that term means. Today I would like us to spend some time looking at God’s love so we can understand better what we mean when we attach it to words such as unconditional or conditional.
The word Christians was given to the followers of Christ because their lives were Christ-centered. Their lives reflected the teachings of their Lord; their communities were Christ-centered; their love for each other was also evident to outsiders. Sadly, this is no longer the case in our society where the word Christian is thrown so loosely.
Sometimes people wonder why God allows them to go through hardships, storms in life. Sometimes we forget that life on this fallen world guarantees hardships, difficulties. Lots of ups and downs. Scriptures gives us a great outlook to difficulties in life. Jesus told his followers to expect them. (John 16:33) “In this world, you will have trouble, but be brave because I have overcome the world.”
Many attend church, but only a few worship. Worship is one of those things we may hear a lot in church but know so little about. Every Sunday we gather together for a “worship service” or worship experience. Have you ever thought why you come together with other believers to worship God? How would you define worship?
“The Lone Ranger and Tonto; Laurel and Hardy. Batman and Robin. It was Snoopy and Charlie. Friends through thick and thin. Friends to the very end. I think you would agree. That’s how it is for You and me.” Geoff Moore and the distance.
We could add to this list, Woody and Buzz, captain America and Bucky. Frodo and Sam. These characters reflect true friendship. When we read and study the Bible we also find great friendships.
You can be very religious and still not know what you worship. You could be attending church your whole life and still not know Jesus. Not because you go to a church where they talk about Jesus makes you into a Christian. You may attend a church and know the rituals, practices and still not know Jesus.
Jesus himself said that at the end of times, there will be people that have a form of religion, people who thought knew Jesus or had a relationship with him. They will be shocked to find out they will not be with Jesus.