Summary: What are the values that make us Christian?
We have spent the last three Sundays looking at values. The first two Sundays we spoke of 6 values, 6 “A’s” that can help us move toward and hopefully experience a quality family life. They are the values of affirmation, acceptance, appreciation, affection, availability, and accountability.
Last Sunday, Memorial Day Sunday, we remembered and honored our veterans and public servants as we reflected on the values of sacrifice, selflessness, and service and we also were reminded of how the Christian faith, through both the person and work of Jesus Christ as well as the very nature of our faith itself, calls us to live out these values.
In light of the past three Sundays, the question I place before us on this communion Sunday is: What are the values that make us Christian?
I can’t recall where I read this but, I recently read that the gift that Jesus gave to the twelve on that last night before His death was the gift of peace as we read in John 14:27: “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of heart and mind. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Now I have read this verse before, many times, perhaps hundreds of time. But, it was not until the author I read said that Jesus gave them this gift- peace and not another gift, that I took notice and asked why? Why this gift and not something else?
But I also began to look at this segment of John, chapters 14 – 17, commonly called “The Upper Room Discourse,” in a slightly different light as it relates to Jesus’ comments in chapter 15 regarding the issues of bearing fruit and the world’s hatred.
Bearing fruit is about our character and a major component of our character deals with the values we choose to live by because our values help shape our character. In John 15, Jesus says to the twelve, “abide in me, exist in me, adhere to me, cleave to me, cling to me, stick with me, dwell in me, live in me, and reside in/with me.” In other words, don’t leave home without me!
We are to become like Christ. And in doing so, our values must become the values of God. Our character must reflect the character of God. This happens, as Jesus tells the twelve on the final evening, as we abide with and in Christ.
This abiding, this dwelling, this relationship with God through Christ is wonderful. Jesus was telling the twelve some very deep and very wonderful things that the Father wanted them, and us, to not just know but also experience! Abiding in Christ is the primary way that the peace of God becomes operative in our lives.
But, then Jesus tells them something that they already know due to their experiences of the past three years with Him but do not yet fully comprehend – the world’s hatred. At times, Christians are not liked people. That is one of the hardest things to acknowledge sometimes. And one of the main reasons that Christians are not liked is due to the fact they choose to live their lives differently – by a different set of values that run smack dab into the worlds.
The disciples understand this because they have seen Jesus despised over and over again as they have walked with Him. He knows that they too, and subsequent history bears it out, will face the same despising that He faced. This is a challenge because as we abide in Christ and seek to become more and more like Him, we will be increasingly out of sync with what our culture says is important. Why? Our values grow more and more different.
But, there is a paradox here. The very values that are treated with contempt are the very ones that people need to have! People are looking to be affirmed, accepted, appreciated, and loved. They are looking for someone who is available and who asks them the hard questions. That someone is ultimately God but first they must see it in us.
Which leads me back to the question I asked a few moments ago: What are the values that make us Christian? Are we living them out in this place as well the other places and spaces we inhabit?
What are the values that make us Christian? Two answers: 1. There are none. Values do not make us Christian. We speak of Christian values but values do not make a Christian. I want my two sons to have Christian values but more importantly I want them to abide in Christ and my example, as their father will have some influence on their decision.
What makes us Christian is the experience of salvation by faith in Christ alone. The values are a result, a by-product, of which Jesus Christ did on our behalf hours after He spoke these words.