Summary: Not only does Jesus save us, He then calls us to go, He send us out in His name to be a blessing and invite others to follow Him. This is the 2nd in a series on The Way of Jesus, an initiative of my denomination the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada
Sermon - January 15, 2017
Last week we began this series on the Way of Jesus by looking at the first marker of the Way of Jesus: “I have begun following Jesus and I am Depending on the Spirit of Jesus for my journey”. We talked about the importance of, no matter how long we’ve been in the Lord, no matter how long we’ve been Christ-followers, the importance of circling back to this beginning marker - ‘I have begun and I am depending’. This keeps us humble and realistic. It keeps us open to the Holy Spirit and open to God and others, like children.
We were reminded that Jesus said that we must become like children in order to enter the kingdom of God. We are beginning. Because we acknowledge this, we also give ourselves permission to be nowhere close to perfecting the Christian walk, as if that were ever a thing. We are starting out. We are beginning.
I’m just starting out, in the last year, playing the violin. I don’t expect myself to be very good at it by now. Believe me, I’m not. That gives me lots of room to grow, to not feel bad about where I am. It keeps me open to learning, to studying to improve.
And God gives us gifts to encourage us. Artin, our dear brother, is an accomplished violinist, and we’ve had the great pleasure of having him join us in worship a number of times over the past few months. To all of us, he is a blessing. He is actually incredibly skilled and has an excellent ear. To me, because I listen intently to his playing and am slowly, by osmosis, learning how he approaches the violin, he is a particular blessing. He doesn’t know it, but he is my teacher, because I listen and I’m learning from him.
God gives us gifts in each other to encourage us along the way. When we know we have a lot to learn, when we have some humility, we are open to growth and learning.
And we also know that we’re dependant on the Holy Spirit for our walk with Jesus, our journey with Jesus in this difficult life that holds much anxiety and suffering for many of us.
We’re reminded through this marker that everything is from God and for God. Remove the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, and we’re literally dead in the water. Church minus the Holy Spirit is nothing.
With the Holy Spirit, there is life and joy. With the Holy Spirit all of the promises of God are being made effective in our lives, preparing us for a much better life now, and for an eternity that is too beautiful for words.
So this is last week’s Way of Jesus marker: “I have begun following Jesus and I am Depending on the Spirit of Jesus for my journey”.
And this is this week’s marker: “I Am being Sent By Jesus To Bless Others and to Invite Them to Follow Him”.
To begin to explore this, let’s look at our key Scriptures that were just read for us: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. (John 3:16, 17 NLT)
This is a familiar and powerful Scripture. It declares God’s character and attitude toward us and toward the rest of humanity. God loves.
Why does God love? God loves because He is love: “God is love”. 1 John 4:8
What do we mean by God so loves the world? Let’s look at how the Bible describes love, and then we will see how God loves. Let’s go through this thoughtfully: (One phrase at a time on PPT) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
This is God's description of love, and because God is love (1 John 4:8), this is what He is like. (https://www.gotquestions.org/God-is-love.html)
I thought I would look up the Greek definition for the word for God’s love, Agape, that is used in John 3:16. The definition includes: “Agape: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly”.
I was surprised by that definition, until I thought about it and realized that you can’t love someone dearly without welcoming them, without being willing to engage them, without having actual affection for them.