Posts Tagged ‘love’

The title of this post is not click bait, it is however what many American Evangelicals actually believe in practice. The great issues that are so fiercely debated usually come down to this question, “does Jesus really want us to love (blank)?” 

I was pretty taken back by the hostility shown when my community, Grace Church, decided to come alongside Syrian refugee families living in our city. In every conversation I had with people who were against it, I never once heard a biblical objection. Usually it came down to fearing a terrorist was hiding among them and would soon figure a way to commit a terrible atrocity in our own back yard. In the end, fear was the driving force behind the opposition.

A biblical sermon on the Good Samaritan(1), from Luke 10:25-37 will make a room full of American Evangelicals visibly squirm. The message Jesus is delivering in that parable is a brutal critique of our current world and culture. For one, Jesus was teaching that a Samaritan could know God better than a Jew demonstrated by the Samaritan’s love of the injured Jew and the hatred shown by the Jewish characters in that parable. This was a very bold claim to make a claim that alone would instantly make him many enemies in the Jewish leadership. Jesus does not end on that note however, but instead drives the lesson deeper under the skin of his hearers. The Jews and Samaritans were more than neighbors who didn’t get along, they were enemies. In the Jewish mind, the Samaritans would always be the ones who defiled the Temple and attacked them; they were terrorists. Jesus chooses this current conflict with which to answer the question, “who is my neighbor?” So Jesus teaches the Jews that the Samaritans, who may or may not be terrorists, are their neighbors. In fact they may also understand and love God more than they do. The bottom line is, the Samaritans were their neighbors, regardless of their rough history. Taking this teaching into our own world, indeed parables are meant to be teachings with handles so we can carry them away with us, a Syrian family is our neighbor and we are commanded to love them. I can’t see a way out of this one. 

Fearing terror is the opposite of wisdom. Fear is the inseparable fellow of hatred and it seems that biblically it can be argued that fear will become hatred very soon if it is allowed to grow. Perfect love casts out all fear, or rather, the Spirit of God indwelling his people, will make them love, for God is love. Love is the only godly response to neighbors. And the only option apart from love, is hatred. The Christian must make a choice, hate or love? Fear or compassion? (2)

The same parable and teachings should guide us in how we respond to racial injustice as well. When an entire community is crying out for justice, how can the Church ignore them? Or even worse, deny the injustice? Its like a man calling his friend a liar for comaining of a stomach ache, because he himself doesn’t have one. The Gospel of Jesus commands us to be a people of justice. The Christian’s allegiance is to never be given to a ethnic or social group, political party or nation. The Christian is to follow Christ and to pay homage and worship to him alone. Nationalism and racism is a false religion precisely for this reason.

I pray we as a people become fierce in our compassion and active in our casting away of fear. May we be intentional in our refusal of hatred, repenting of our fears until we are a people who love, for God is love.

Jesus actually means it when he commands us to love our neighbors and even our enemies. Indeed it is love that brings the Kingdom of God into this broken world of hate. 
1. This is a link to a sermon by Pastor Heath Watson, whom I serve Grace Church with, on the Good Samaritan. This sermon actually did cause us to squirm. Please take a listen.

2. See I John 3&4. Here are two sermon I preached on these texts that further expound upon my points here.

A New Commandment

God is Love pt.1


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“To arms! To arms! The Christians are attacking!” Prince Valiant (?)

“The Church is not the Church unless it is the Church militant”. R.C. Sproul


It is easy to understand that the Church is an institution ordained and formed by Christ to invade the realm of hell, extinguishing it from the earth. Our Lord himself says that the “gates of hell shall not prevail” against us. Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians, after he has expressed the power and benefits of Christ given to all who have been delivered through his exodus from death and sin, with an appeal to put on the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6. The Church is indeed an army and all who are called by Christ have been commissioned into its service. The vocational callings of the Church such as pastors and teachers are ordained for the dedicated job of equipping the saints for the battle, the labor of the ministry, Ephesians 4. It is important to express that the battle we fight is not with guns and smart bombs, but with the power of the message that Jesus is the victorious King of the nations. In our fight we are ordered to “overcome evil with good”, and to “love our enemies”.

I have heard it said by many, I do not know by who originally, that the Church is the only army that shoots its own soldiers. This is a sad reality. I myself have seen this done. The Church is not only an institution called for battle, it is also a community formed for service and renewal. I would actually go so far as to suggest that the Church cannot succeed in the battle if it does not also fully embrace its calling to be a hospital, caring for the wounded and broken, regardless of who they are or how they got there. The same Apostle who calls us to gird our loins for the battle also calls us to be a people that gently and humbly restore our fallen brethren, Galatians 6.

The ability to fight the good fight, while caring for the wounded is a mark of maturity and wisdom according to the New testament. Jesus was a master of this. Dispelling evil and humiliating it, while restoring the woman caught in adultery so that she would “sin no more”.

So is the Church an Army or a hospital? According to Scripture it is both, and this is part of its practical strength. May we who are called to serve the Kingdom of God, fight the good fight as we serve and renew our world.

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law of god love pic

God’s Law is perfect. The Law of God is the foundation and source, as well as the preserver, of life, liberty, justice and love. This Sermon, given at Grace Church of Dunedin, presents a survey of the Biblical Narrative as the Story of God’s Law. This Story is of a God who creates and redeems a people for his own precious possession. He is a jealous husband and and good King.


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This is a really great talk from Pastor Tim Keller on the Jealousy of God. God’s law, his creation of man and woman and the sending of his Son all reveal a God who is passionately in love with his people. Hos doesn’t just want us to serve him out of obligation, he declares to us, “Love me with all you are as I love you.”


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Embracing An Imperfect Jesus

Mr. Hanna makes some great points here on his blog site, ‘Of Dust and Kings’, “In the Christian paradigm, perfection is defined by love.” Grace and Peace

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Whenever forgiveness comes up there are usually reasons put forth as to why one should practice forgiveness. I hear it said that one should forgive so they can be free from bitterness and so they can find healing. I believe forgiveness does these things, brings personal and internal healing as well as a freedom from resentment and therefore stress and anger. As a Christian however, I believe Jesus put forth reasons to forgive beyond those of our own personal benefit. Forgiveness authenticates discipleship and defeats evil.

Jesus tells his disciples that if they are to be authentic in their discipleship then they are to follow him to suffering and death. He was going to a very real and literal Golgotha and was going to hang and die on a very real and gruesome cross, the penalty for sedition against Rome and the Emperor. Jesus says and accomplishes much by his death and in the hours leading to his final breath. One of these is his forgiveness of his killers. His prayer, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” is a statement that teaches much about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the acknowledgment that the ones who are hammering the nails and whipping the prisoners back to the texture of raw hamburger meat are not the actual enemies. It acknowledges that the humans who are abusing and oppressing are mere vessels and themselves victims of something far worse: Evil itself. Evil is real and it has an agenda. The Bible tells of Evil as that which is contrary to God in every way. It is an invader, unwelcome in God’s created world. The entire story of the Bible can be summed up as what God has done in history and is doing to eventually destroy Evil forever, delivering the universe from its terrible and abusive reign (see Genesis 3, Romans 5-8, Matthew 5).

Jesus prays for the forgiveness of his enemies out of a deep conviction that God is against Evil, and that his own death was in some way involved in what God was doing about it. To be a disciple of this man is to forgive like him, while dying like him. Forgiveness is where the Gospel becomes real and discipleship is authenticated. Those who claim to be a follower of Jesus, yet fail in forgiveness, are members of a popular religion that boast big ideas, yet is only just man made hot air and has NOTHING to do with the teachings, example or work of Jesus. How can they follow Jesus when they refuse to go where he leads or do what he says? Those who sit in church and never actually do forgiveness will never know forgiveness themselves, will never see victory over the sin in their life or the evil in their hearts and communities. Forgiveness is how the Kingdom of God moves into this miserable and broken one. It is the way the people of God obey a great commission to make disciples and be the means through which healing and restoration comes to the Cosmos.

To Jesus, and many who have followed after him, forgiveness is the most powerful thing a person can do in the struggle against Evil. During one of the first ever press conferences, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the nation regarding the disappearance of three young male college students in Mississippi who were there participating in the Freedom Rides. Dr. King and other organizers were certain that the students were dead, murdered by those who desired to see Jim Crow law maintained in the South. Dr. King said, “Its not about who killed these men. We know what killed them”. Dr. King believed that Evil was bigger than the hands it used to do its bidding and he was focused on Evil as the true enemy to be fought at all cost. This meant not operating according to the rules of a world ruled and infected with Evil. His dedication to non-violence was a strategy: defeat Evil with peace and love. Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount reveals this strategy  as well, “Do not resist evil with evil”.

Forgiveness is for the retaking of the Earth and humanity from the clutches of Evil. Forgiveness is how the people of God empowered by His Spirit, resist and defeat Evil. There are many benefits to living a life of forgiveness, but luxury and ease are not included in these. A life of forgiveness is only possible when one is dedicated to the Mission of God to see the world put back to rights. It can only be a reality for us when we believe that we are called to die. We must die to ourselves and to the principles of this word that say smart bombs and violent action are effective in making this world better. We must die to a religion that would sing praises to Yahweh, remember the Messiah at the table, join his movement through Baptism, yet refuse to live the new life is represents. When we hold grudges and refuse to forgive we are refusing to be a disciple of Jesus. “Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “Your Kingdom come…on Earth as in Heaven”.

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Our society has become a safe haven for boys to stay boys for as long as they like. A recent study shows that the number one video gaming demographic is not teenagers, but men age 20-32. It is no wonder why this same group are also much less likely to marry or even move out of their parents house.

As a father I find this cultural characteristic terrifying. I want my son to become a man one day and hopefully before he is 30. I am about a week away from being a stay at home Dad while my wife goes back to the work she loves. This also is a bit unnerving for me. But one thing good to come out of this is a lot of quality daddy and son time.

We have a few things to do together:

Potty training (for for him not me, I’m pretty good most of the time).
fort building
zoo trips

…and many more. But in all this I cant shake the fear in the back of my mind. I want my son to become a good man one day. I want him to marry and make a living doing what he loves. I want him to lead others and be an example for all to admire…I want him to fear God and to enjoy him forever.

This is really where the rubber meets the road I think. If I want all this for my now two year old son, then I must myself be an example of a God fearing man. I must be dedicated to my sons discipleship. I must pray and fast and teach and obey… I must be a man who worships and trust my King.

I Corinthians 16:13&14 seems to directly address this:

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”

Act like men. Paul has in a brief statement defined manhood here to the Corinthians. Standing firm in the faith, being alert, strong and doing all things in love. The human is defined in the Bible as the Image Bearer of the Creator and King of all the universe. A man is a man because he has been liberated from sin and evil so that he can again fulfill his purpose, reflecting the beauty, justice, creativity, mercy, strength and love of his God. This is what I want to be, this is what I want my son to be.

So I pray and praise. I praise God that my son is not in the situation of so many boys in our nation growing up without dads in their homes and lives. I pray I will be a good dad, loving my son with all of me and communicating to him how well pleased I am with him.

Fathers, love your children, love your wives. Honor God and raise a people who fear and love him by loving his creation.

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