Summary: Jesus said - If you love those who love you what reward will you get? In our sermon today we explore Christian loves higher calling as we see: 1. The Rule of Christian Love 2. The Reason For Christian Love 3. The Reward For Christain Love
“A Higher Calling”
Fr. Christopher M. Nerreau
Introduction: (READ PASSAGE)
• One of the most difficult things about love is that it leaves us vulnerable. When we open our hearts to anyone or anything, when we let something in, we have also opened ourselves to the possibility of great pain and sorrow. For truly, one cannot love without putting the heart in jeopardy.
• Now I suspect most of us have experienced the pain of a broken heart. We have lost the ones we loved to bitter divorce, illness or even death. Each time making it more difficult to open our hearts the next.
• And over time we find ourselves very cautious about who we allow into our hearts. Usually those who find our hearts are those who love us first, those whom we find little reason to think will hurt us, those who go out of their way to give us great reason to love them.
Proposition: But to be a Christian we are called to love at a higher level. We are to love not only those who love us but those who hate us.
Interrogative sentence: Today I want to ask you a question – “from who are you withholding your love today?”
Sermon Preview: In our passage today Jesus, teaching on personal relationships, does what He does best, goes after the heart over the issue of love. Today Christ is going to go after your heart as He teaches you:
1. The Rule For Christian Love (v. 44)
2. The Reason For Christian Love (v. 45b, 48)
3. The Reward For Christian Love (45a)
Transitional Sentence: Jesus begins by teaching us about …
I. THE RULE FOR CHRISTIAN LOVE (v.44)
Explanation: Jesus makes it clear that it is not only those who do us well that we are to love but those who are not exactly lovely as well.
THE BIBLE SAYS – Mt 5:44 “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
• The Orthodox Study Bible notes the story of a monk who walked in on bandits who were robbing him of what little he had. When the bandits had left the only thing they left behind was his walking stick. The monk pursued them for many days until he caught up with them and then gave them his walking stick as also. Cut to the heart these bandits returned all his possessions and converted to Christ.
• This is what Jesus meant, to love our enemies, to PURSUE those who seek to do us harm and show them kindness.
A. LOVE YOUR ENEMIES?
o Jesus understood that evil is not overcome by more evil and violence is not overcome by violence. Evil is overcome by GOOD and goodness cannot be found apart from love.
o Love – Not a feeling but a choice, a decision of the will. Jesus chooses to pray for His assailants.
• Who are My Enemies - A hostile or antagonistic person who stands either against you or in your way. An enemy is one who seeks your demise, seeks your suffering, and takes pleasure in it.
• To this one Christ calls us to show pity, charity, kindness and long suffering.
B. PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU
• C.S. Lewis wrote, "Do not waste your time bothering whether you ’love’ your neighbor act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
• One of the greatest acts of love one can give is to pray. Praying for our enemies’ changes us, it costs us, it hurts but it refines us and causes us to see in our aggressor the very image of the God we love.
• Just as prayer is a choice, so is the love that drives it. Love is not a feeling it is a decision! It is a choice of the volitional will and the feeling follow it.
• Jesus said – (v. 46-47) “If you love those who love you what reward will you get? Don’t even pagans do that?” Christians are called into an area where we open our hearts to the very people who seek us harm.
• FORGIVE ENEMIES BUT DO WHAT JUSTICE DEMANDS: Because we forgive does not meant that we subvert justice. A person who murders should be forgiven and also should go to jail.
o And so we find that the rule of Christian love moves beyond “ME”, my wants, my needs, my concerns, my fears. Rather the rule of Christian love is to set others apart as more important that even our own selves. As Jesus said Mt. 16:25 – “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”