Love One Another
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
It was a Monday morning, a morning like any other morning, until it wasn’t your typical Monday morning
Once again, I, we, were shocked…but at least we were still shocked, because this is becoming too common
A madman, no, let’s call him what he was, a white terrorist, because he inflicted terror
In a hotel room with guns…lots of guns…lots of modified guns
Well, you know the rest
And I am not here today to condemn guns…I, too, believe that people must pull a trigger for a gun to work
No, I am here to condemn, in some small way, all of us…the collective Christian church
I hold myself partially responsible for these events of last Sunday evening…I really do
You see, as I was driving to work on Monday morning…after my senses had been assaulted once again…
It happened…and it often seems to happen
A song came on the radio during my 10-minute drive to Siena Heights on Monday morning
Arranged so that I could hear all 4 minutes of the song…and I mean I “heard” that song in its entirety
And it hung in my heart…and it still hangs in my heart…because God wants it in my heart
And because I believe God wants it in all of our hearts, you get to hear it now
And I ask you to “hear” it, not to just listen to it…but to really “hear” it
”If We Are the Body” – Casting Crowns
John Hall, the leader of Casting Crowns, asks four important questions in these lyrics
And it is those four questions that cut into my heart on Monday morning
1) Why aren't His arms reaching?
2) Why aren't His hands healing?
3) Why aren't His words teaching?
4) Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
Just let those questions sink in for a minute…but allow me to modify the first three to match the fourth
1) Why aren't His arms reaching them?
2) Why aren't His hands healing them?
3) Why aren't His words teaching them?
4) Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
Adding them just wrecks the rhyming scheme and poetic license allows it for the song to flow
But it begs a question…Who is “them”?
You, of course, know who them is…them are the others, foreigners, one anothers
“Them” is anyone who ain’t us
And the cutting-my-heart question is just why aren’t “them” being reached, healed, taught, or being shown love?
At this point, I am not diving into the Big Ten…the Big Ten of the Old Testament, that is
We might be able to recite them by heart, but we know them well
And psychologists might say that they are poorly written as life objectives…
That these kinds of statements that tell us “NOT” to do something just mess with our brains
That our brains don’t hear the word “NOT”
Besides, our Savior, Jesus Christ, gave us two, simple, positively stated rules to sum these ten up
Love God, and love you neighbor as yourself…love “them” as you love yourself
So that saved you a half hour of preaching…because there is a lot in those ten little rules
And we are not going to dive into the rich imagery of the vineyard parable
The one where all of the messengers are ignored & killed by the renters
Until finally the vineyard owner’s son is also ignored and killed…yes, Jesus
No, I would rather focus on two other passages to help us understand the important to reaching out to “them”
Philippians 3:8-9, the NIV version, for added effect… “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Paul considers “everything a loss” because he came to know Jesus…”consider them garbage”
Paul was an educated man, very different from the Apostles…he knew the 632 laws very well
And Paul’s religious education drove him to persecute the fledgling Christians of his day for the Roman Empire
Paul had to be blinded in order to assess all that he had been taught
And in regaining his sight, Paul saw a new truth…a new reality
Paul saw that everyone he saw was “them”…that each of “them” was worthy of his love…worthy of God’s love
And he dedicated his life…his sighted life with Christ…to teach every “them” who would listen about Jesus
The second passage comes from Matthew 21:43… “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.”
Pastor, I like that, but please tell us…What are the fruits of the kingdom?
I’m glad you asked, Springville!
Pastor Ken Hansen on sermoncentral.com suggests that there are three Fruits of the Kingdom, and I buy these
First, there are the fruits of the Spirit, from Galatians 5:22-23… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…just think about all of the things we should give to our children and you have it!
Second, our relationship with Jesus Christ bears fruit of the kingdom…we will, one day, enter heaven!
Third, there is the fruit of our lips, and I use Galatians 5:26 as our guide… “Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”
But let’s phrase this in a positive way…Let us love God, with all of our soul, and all of our mind, and all of our heart; let us love ourselves immensely, so that we can love “them” as our Father in heaven loves us!