February 20, 2022
Here’s the question for today: How can we get a GODLY understanding, of Listening, Learning and Loving GOD and our neighbors? We all know how terrible the divisions in our society have become. In an attempt to support folks to Listen, Learn and Love GOD and our Neighbors, over the last three weeks we’ve offered worship services designed around the messages:
“Listening To GOD,”
“Learning From GOD,” and last week
“Loving GOD,” to lay the foundation for this last message in the series: “Listening, Learning and Loving With Our Neighbors.”
The first 12 chapters of John’s Gospel offers us Jesus’ Words to tell us who He is; calling his disciples, teaching, healing, feeding; and offers his miraculous works to show who he is and what “His Love” is all about.
Chapter 13:1 of John’s Gospel begins this way, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come…”
Friends, this is a big turn in John’s gospel, Jesus’ hour had come, he was heading to the cross to die for our sins. Chapter 13 begins the Last Supper and Jesus’ farewell discourse. He was talking to his 12 disciples at their final meal together.
They had been together in ministry a little more than 3 years; they knew each other through the good times, the bad times, and the ugly times; but nothing prepared them for this night.
Continuing in verse 1, “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.”
“He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
This is the Word of The Lord, Thanks be to GOD! Have you ever thought about how Jesus felt when he knelt down in front of Judas Iscariot and washed his feet; since Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him; and Judas also knew…what was going through their minds?
Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray him, and it sent a shiver through all the disciples, trying to figure out who it would be.
Peter, being Peter, argued with Jesus about getting his feet washed, but finally relented and allowed Jesus to wash his feet.
Now today’s Scripture, Jesus said to the disciples then and to us now in John 13:34&35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is the Word of The Lord, Thanks be to GOD!
So, we all know that Jesus’ Love is different than “Valentine’s day love.” My friends, have you felt totally Loved by Jesus Christ?? It totally changed my life, when I felt the total love of Jesus Christ one Sunday morning after I had become a pastor, back in 1998. From that day on I wanted others to feel that “totally loved” feeling. Only when folks feel totally loved by Jesus can we start to hear what Jesus meant, “just as I have loved you!”
I believe Jesus made it pretty clear: we have to kneel down at each other’s feet, we need to feed one another, we need to heal one another, we need to forgive one another, we need to work with each other, we need to preach God’s kingdom and repentance; and we need to serve each other. That’s showing God’s love to one another. And all of that starts by listening to GOD and our neighbors; learning from GOD and our neighbors; and loving GOD and our neighbors. Listening, learning, and Loving GOD and our neighbors.
Jesus challenges us to Love one another as He has loved us. Folks, I think that’s impossible to love like Jesus loves……
IF we depend on ourselves……….but if we lean on GOD then we can begin to understand how Jesus loves us into loving each other as we Listen, Learn, and Love Jesus.
When we analyze our mass media culture we get a different picture of what “worldly love” is compared to GOD’S love. We can’t look to the world to teach us how to love like Jesus calls us to Love. Our culture tells us a lot of different things about “love” in songs. The Beatles said, “All We Need is Love,” The Jefferson Airplane asked the question, “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love,” Elvis said, “Love Me Tender,” The band Queen ask folks to help them find “Somebody to Love.” I found 582 songs with the word “love” in the title.
So many people are starving for love and they are so confused what kind of love GOD created us for. So, my friends, GOD created us in GOD’S image, gave us creation to steward, but Adam and Eve showed us the way to rebel. And we continue to do such a good job of rebelling, and that causes us to “Look for “love” in all the wrong places.” We need to look to GOD and GOD’S Love!
GOD’S Love is so much bigger than what the world teaches us about love. GOD wired us to love all different kinds of love, but many of us didn’t pay attention to what Jesus wants us to know about love.
That’s why so many pastors use the different Greek words to help people, put different kinds of love into categories. I believe GOD wired each of us with each category; but as unique individuals who all need community.
EROS - is the Greek god of love and sex. Our culture is a mess with sex and human desires. It is more than sexual ecstasy because it also includes embraces, longing, and caring.
STERGO - primarily refers to love between parents and children. It sometimes refers to love between people and their ruler and the love between a dog and their human partner.
PHILEO - This Greek word has the idea of emotional love. PHILEO emphasizes the affection, emotion, a fondness one person has for another; sisterly love, or brotherly love.
AGAPE - This word was used in Greek literature to refer to someone who was generously favored by a “god.” It has the idea of a person giving all his or her love or favor to another. It was used to speak of parents giving “all of their love” to their only child. So in the New Testament “Agape” is used to make the same point. GOD gives each of us “ALL of His love,” His agape love.
An example of agape love is Mamie Mobley’s response regarding those who killed her son Emmet Till; she said, and I quote “I did not wish them dead. I did not wish them in jail. If I had to, I could take their four little children – they each had two – and I could raise those children as if they were my own and I could have loved them...I believe the Lord meant what he said, and try to live according to the way I’ve been taught.” End quote.
Love shaped by Christ Jesus removes bitterness and cynicism and embraces forgiveness. All of us encounter people who are difficult to love. Sometimes WE ARE difficult to love.
The people who love us when we are at our worst
help us see Christ. When we choose to love others, we give what we have received.Sometimes the people who behave the worst are the
ones who need the love the most.
It’s only by opening up to God’s Holy Spirit can we develop a heart for others. Listening, Learning, and Loving our neighbors.
My Friends, we were once strangers to the faith, residing outside the community where we now find rich resources of meaning, grace, hope, friendship, and service. We belong to the Body of Christ because of someone’s hospitality.
Someone invited us, encouraged us, received us, and helped us feel welcome—a parent, a spouse, a friend, a pastor, or even a stranger. By someone’s love, we were engrafted onto the Body of Christ. If we had not felt welcomed and supported in some measure, we would not have stayed.
Someone took the time to listen to you, you all learned together, and through the power of GOD’S Holy Spirit, you came to faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
I believe that the very best way to listen to each other, learn from each other, and grow to love each other, is through a Christian small group. Small groups help people learn about GOD’S agape love. And that’s the message for next week, “Small Groups To GOD’S Glory.”
In John 17 Jesus begins to pray to His Father, for the disciples then and all the disciples through the ages, including us now. Jesus continues his pray to His Father in verse 20, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.
As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to GOD!
Jesus prayed for us to be one, to what goal? Jesus’ words, “…so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
The Community coming together in the Love of Jesus Christ to support the Wright City Community Food Pantry by staging and delivering the Fish Fry every Friday evening during Lent is a great symbol to all the folks in our community of the BODY OF CHRIST AT WORK IN THE WORLD. We need you to sign up!!
GOD’S churches coming together as one, so that the folks in Warren County might know that GOD sent his son Jesus the Christ for the reconciliation of the whole world. That GOD loves them even as GOD loved his only son Jesus the Christ.
As Christians we are called to Love GOD with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all of our strength; and to Love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus said love others the way he loved us.
If we would see every child/student/adult as a beloved child of GOD and helped them know they are a beloved child of GOD there would be less division, harassment, hate, bullying, violence, and killing. (There will always be a few people, that for some reason won't be able to hear the GOOD NEWS.)
The Apostle Paul wrote The 2nd Letter to the Corinthians about 20 years after Jesus died on the cross, rose again from the dead, walked the earth as the Risen Christ and ascended to heaven. Please hear Paul’s seasoned approach to our work in Christ Jesus.
2nd Corinthians 5:17 and following, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Paul is telling us, it’s really “Show and Tell.” We are ambassadors for Christ.
We are to Show people the love of Jesus Christ and later if you have a chance tell them how Jesus has changed your life.
We need to think of ourselves as servants, not volunteers. Volunteers are ones who pick their time and place to spend a little time. As servants of God we are led by the Holy Spirit to serve in ways we have never imagined.
Listening, Learning, and Loving our neighbors is how we follow Jesus as The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Sharing the Love of Jesus Christ is the only way we can unify in this divided world.
PLEASE, LOVE GOD AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR!