Summary: Since God is love, we ought to be loving to the world on his behalf. A call to be the instruments of Love to our world in the new year.
As I have reflected this week as to what I think might well be the most important thing for us to know about the faith that we are planning to grow in during the year to come, I have come to the following conclusion: We must realize that we are in fact children of God. Not that we have earned this privilege, far from it, we have instead been chosen to
become children of God. Each one of us here, whether or not we have yet responded to the call of God to faith in Jesus Christ has been chosen to become a child of God. In fact the entire world has been called to faith in Christ, by the very God who created us and yet there are many who have chosen not to respond in faith and obedience to Christ’s call to salvation.
In any case, the reason that we are chosen to become children of God is because we are completely and totally loved by the God that created us and it is by that God that we are called children. Love is the reason that we are children of God. And yet, if the world looked at us as children of God, what would they see? I would hope that they see the love of God reflected in ways that make it completely clear that we
are in fact not only children of God, but also that we are obedient children of God. The way that the world may know that we are Children of God is by the love that we show to the world around us. I am reminded of the song that is perhaps one of the most popular songs around the campfires at church camp, possibly because it is easy to play on the guitar in the dark since it only has two chords, but the simplicity of the message is what I most appreciate. The entire gospel is distilled down to the truth that "They will know we are Christians by our love" . But the song doesn’t end with that verse, instead it gives us some guiding
principles to guide our actions as we seek to manifest the love of God to the world. "We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand." and "We will work with each other, we will work side by side" are the following two verses and the song ends up by offering all praise to the Father son and Holy Spirit who make us one. But... the song begins with love...
So too, the life of faith begins with love. At first it is because we respond to the love of God through Jesus Christ, then we respond to that love by loving God in return and finally that love is carried out into the world that surrounds us each and every day of our lives. How much better the world would be if all of the people who call themselves followers of
Jesus Christ would truly act like it. One of my all time favorite books as I am sure many of you are aware is the Christian classic “In His Steps”, by Charles Sheldon. In this book Sheldon tells the story of a small church where the pastor posed a challenge to the members of the church one Sunday morning and the story goes on to illustrate how each person’s life was changed in that church and how the community around them changed as a result of the actions of these Christians. The challenge that the pastor posed to his
church was this. Before you do anything, anything at all, be it a business transaction, a telephone call, a response to a person who has offended you, anything at all. Pause long enough to ask yourself this question. "If Jesus were standing here facing this situation, what would Jesus do?" The transformation that was wrought by each of these people pausing several times each day to ask themselves this question was profound and earth shaking. The “What would Jesus Do” question is one that has become trendy in recent years, but I wonder if people are really asking themselves this question, or if the phrase just puts forth the facade of spirituality to the world.
But I guess the point of all of this is so that our church can respond to the same challenge. As this new year begins we should be seeking to truly live the life of loving obedience to Christ by acting out that love in the world. When someone offends you, ask yourself what would Jesus do? When you are tempted to compromise your Christian values ask yourself What would Jesus Do? I’ll tell you what Jesus would do! Jesus would always put the feelings and needs of others ahead of his own. Jesus would not set his own agenda ahead of the neds of others and would put his own desires and opinions on a back burner for the same of the good of others and for the common good of the family of God. Jesus would live his life in such a way that people could not help but be drawn to him and to the God that he served. Jesus