Summary: "When love, acceptance and forgiveness prevail, the church becomes what Jesus was in the world: a center of love, designed for the healing of broken people, and a force for God." (Jerry Cook).
LOVE, ACCEPTANCE AND FORGIVENESS
OPENING: Welcome to church. This morning, I want to share with you the vision that I have for our church family. Who are we? Where are we going? What has the Lord called us to do?
STORY: There is a story about a man who was walking down the street. He passed a used-book store, and in the window he saw a book with the title, "How to Hug." He was taken by the title and, being of a somewhat romantic nature, went in to buy the book. To his dismay, he discovered that it was the seventh volume of an encyclopedia and covered the subjects “how” to “hug.” Everyone knows that the church is a place where love ought to be manifested, and many people have come to church hoping to find a demonstration of love—only to discover an encyclopedia on theology. (illustration from sermoncentral.com)
• IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THAT!
“When love, acceptance and forgiveness prevail, the church becomes what Jesus was in the world: a center of love, designed for the healing of broken people, and a force for God… One of the greatest services a church can offer a community is to provide a place for people to be brought to wholeness – to be healed physically, spiritually and emotionally… People are fragmented. They are torn. Life doesn’t work for them because they are without Jesus... They need a place to be healed.” (Jerry Cook).
This morning, I want to share with you the vision that I have to see:
1. The church become and
2. For all of us as individuals to become!
1. LOVE ONE ANOTHER:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
• Jesus calls us to love each other as He loves us – unconditionally.
• This is a sign that we are true disciples of Jesus!
HOW ARE WE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER?
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
• We can’t keep record of when other people have wronged us!
2. ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER:
“So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.” (Romans 15:7).
• It’s one thing to love one another, God also wants us to ACCEPT one another!
• Notice also that God wants us to accept each other as He accepted us.
• ACCEPT = “to take as one’s companion, to take or receive into one’s home, with kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart, to take into friendship.”
• Acceptance means acknowledging that other people are different than you, and not allowing that to stop you from loving them.
“Jesus said, "Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do… For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:12-13).
QUOTE: “Jesus hung around with sinners, and if we’re too holy to allow people to blow smoke in our faces, then we’re holier than Jesus was… Love acceptance, forgiveness. Those three things are absolutely essential to any ministry that will consistently bring people to maturity and wholeness.” (Jerry Cook).
“The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” (Morton Kelsey).
3. FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER:
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32).
QUOTE: “Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual, but for the wobbly and the weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace… Something is radically wrong when the local church rejects a person who is accepted by Jesus… Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel).
PARABLE ON FORGIVENESS: PARAPHRASE
“Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:21-22).
“23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold…and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ’Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ’Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ’Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ’You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35).