Summary: Fourth in a six part series encouraging believers to do whatever it takes in their relationship with God and others. This message focuses on fellowship.
A “Whatever it Takes” Commitment:
1. Does not hold to convention
2. Is not hemmed in by circumstances
3. Does not heed convenience
4. Is not hampered by criticism
5. Does bring honor to Christ
The last two weeks, we’ve talked about doing “whatever it takes” in our relationship with God – knowing God through discipleship and worshipping God through worship. For the next three weeks, we’re going to discover how to do “whatever it takes” in our relationships with others. This morning we’ll begin by talking about doing whatever it takes to love others. That’s fellowship.
Fellowship is so much more than pot-luck dinners. It’s more than the game night we’ll have next Sunday night or even the “fellowship” time that we include in our worship service each Sunday morning. Those things may all be part of the process, but they are not fellowship in and of themselves. This week, I looked at a number of different passages that could be used to help us learn more about fellowship. I certainly could have used the passage which begins in Acts 2:42 that described the fellowship in the early church. In fact, I’d suggest that you go back and read that passage again this week. And there are a number of Old Testament and New Testament passages that give us some insight into doing whatever it takes to love others. But to me, the essence of fellowship is summed up by Jesus in just two verses – two verses that are probably very familiar to most of us.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:34, 35 (NIV)
When I began to look at this passage this week, the first question that came into my mind was “Why does Jesus call this a new command?” After all, I can go all the way back to Leviticus 19 and find God’s command to love my neighbor as myself. And certainly Jesus had frequently taught his disciples the need to love others. Much of the Sermon on the Mount dealt with the idea of loving others, even our enemies. So in what sense is this a new command?
Remember the context here. Jesus has just finished washing the feet of disciples to show them the “full extent of his love”. And after this humble act of love, he gives his disciples a new standard for the way they are to love others. Jesus tells his disciples to love in a new way – in the way he had demonstrated his love for them. That’s why Jesus said this was a “new command.”
Loving others the way Jesus loves us…that’s the essence of true fellowship. There is not nearly enough time this morning to discuss all the aspects of Jesus’ love for us. At first I thought maybe I’d come up with another acrostic this week – like I did for the word “Worship” last week. But “fellowship” is what, 10 letters. I’m not sure I could come up with 10 points that would fit those 10 letters and I’m not sure you’d keep listening that long anyway. So I’ve chosen just 5 aspects of Christ’s love for us that I think can help us do whatever it takes to love others in that same way.
I love others like Christ loves me when I…
1. Am honest about who I am
Different people wanted Jesus to be different things. Some people were looking for Him to be a political leader who could come and lead them out from under the oppression of the Roman government. Some people came to Jesus merely out of a sense of curiosity or because they thought that Jesus could give them something they wanted. Some people thought he was a lunatic. The religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their influence and power. But Jesus was never swayed by what other people thought of Him or what other people wanted Him to be. And even though some of those who were the very closest to Jesus didn’t fully understand who He was, Jesus was always honest about who He was and why He had come into the world.
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."