New Year's Resolution of Loving Other People - As Seen on Sunday

New Year's Resolution of Loving Other People - As Seen on Sunday

Verse of the Week

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
— 1 John 4:20-21

Our Confession

Father, 

We don't keep our promises. 

Our word, which is supposed to be our bond, doesn't mean much either. 

We are fickle, ambivalent, and prone to fail

But we confess, O Lord, that you are never changing. 

Your love, compassion, and mercy for us never changes. 

Help us love one another like you love us, because you love us. 

Amen.

Sermon Recap 

I’m not much on New Year’s Resolutions. It seems like another opportunity to remind us of our failures to lose weight, read more, and become some better version of ourself.


I’ve become convinced that my life doesn’t need to be focused on making myself better as much as it needs to be on learning how to follow Jesus and making those who are around me better. 


Those two things are what I am trying to resolve and implement in my life. I want my life to be defined by those two things. 


I want to follow Jesus because I love him. I love him because since the foundations of the world he has loved me. I have been fickle in my love for Jesus. He has never wavered in his love for me. 


So when I went searching for a sermon this week love and resolutions were on my mind. 
I came across 1 John 4 and the commandment that closes the chapter: 


“Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
This my new year’s resolution - to love God and my brother. 


But who exactly is my brother? 


My Brother, My Familia


Being an only child the concept of siblings is lost on me. 


I will never really be able to grasp the depths of a friend that sticks closer than a brother because I didn’t have a brother to stick to. 


Naturally, I wanted to know who my brother is. If I am supposed to love him I should probably know who he is, right? 


I asked Jesus and he said, “Whoever does the will of God are my brother” 
And this seems to echo what John is saying in his first letter. Those that love God are my brothers and sisters. My familia. 


And if I do not show love to my spiritual family than I do not have the love of God in me. 


How do I love my family?


The first church was known by their extravagant love for each other. 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

— The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 2:42–47). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

It is hard to imagine that possessions, greed, and achievement were at the top of these folks core identity traits. 

Sure there are those who were still in it for the glory (see Ananias and Sapphira), but the Bible describes a group of people whose general characteristics were purposefully lowering their own standard of living so the standard of living around them would be lifted. 

Their daily routine involved:

  • eating together
  • worshipping together 
  • listening to Biblical teaching together
  • praying together

Over the next few chapters in the book of Acts, it is revealed that this was done in light of some heavy opposition towards the church. 

Not even tough times would hinder the collective joy and persistent worship of God in the early community of the church. 

IS this how I am supposed to love my Christian brothers and sisters? 

The answer is yes, but that is not the real question. 

The real question is why don't we treat our fellow Christian brothers and sisters like this? 



What about those who are not Christians? Do I have to love them? 

It can be easy to love those who think like us, worship like us, and hold similar values. 

Jesus says, 

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

— Matthew 5:43–47 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016).

It is an old teaching that we should love our neighbor as ourself. The term "neighbor" to many religious folks are the people that are close, those that belong to the same church and religion. 

"Neighbor" closely equates to our "Brothers and Sisters" that we talked about a before. This seems to be the popular interpretation of Leviticus 19.

While it certainly is a joy and a Christian privilege to love one another, there is a command of Christ that we casually forget: Love your enemies.

In Luke 10, Jesus seemingly settles the debate as to who our neighbor is and how we should treat them. The parable of the Good Samaritan begins with a quasi-religious lawyer getting down to brass tacks about the definition of "neighbor." Let's read it together: 


The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”


— Luke 10:25–37

It was settled that the man who was the enemy was of the mugged man was the one that was fulfilling the law and knew the true definition of the word neighbor. 

He also knew that the correct response was to show mercy. 

Are we aware that Jesus' command was to "do and do the same thing"? 

If we are aware, why do we continually disobey? 



Preparing to Love Others the Way Jesus Does
 

Loving other people they way that Christ loves us demands that we be prepared to do so. We are to be actively looking for opportunities to love one another the way Jesus tells us we should. 

Preparation comes in many forms, so I ask these questions of you: 

Are you financially prepared to help others when the need arises? 

Are you emotionally prepared to love others when it is tough and unrewarding?

Are you spiritually prepared to love in the face of strong opposition?

Are you mentally prepared to look for opportunities to love others?

Are you physically prepared to act when someone needs your strength and abilities?

The truth is we are rarely prepared to extend extravagant love toward others because we are increasingly worried about protecting ourselves.

As we draw to a close, I ask yet another question: Are you prepared to love people the way Jesus expects us to love people?

A New Year's Resolution

I admit that I am not prepared to love others in the extravagant way that Jesus calls me to. 

And I hate New Year's resolutions because I am immediately reminded that I will probably fail at anything I decide to take on. 

But I would rather fail at obeying God than succeed at obeying myself. 

So my resolution this year is to prepare my life in such a way to be able to love others. 

I will prepare:

  • Financially
  • Emotionally
  • Spiritually
  • Mentally 
  • Physically

In 2017, I challenge you to do the same.

 

About the Author | Josh Schaidt TwitterFacebookInstagram
I love cookies and I still buy music one album at a time. @EmptyChurch is one way I live empty, talk faith, and opt in to follow Jesus. Please remember our Rules For Discussion when commenting.
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