All You Need Is Love - John 13:34-35 - Nate Heitzig
[MUSIC - PLASTIC ONO BAND, "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE"]
All we are saying--
Peace, celebrities demand it. Pop culture makes it a catchy tune. Activists protest for it. Still, peace seems out of reach. True peace can't be found in or understood by this world.
All we are saying is give him a chance. All we are saying is give peace a chance.
Give peace a chance.
Well, good evening and welcome to Calvary on this dark and stormy night before Snowpocalypse hits us tomorrow. Great to have you guys with us as we continue and give peace a chance. And a special weekend, t Love Bomb weekend. We love Reload Love so much.
And I've personally had an opportunity as my mom and dad said to go with my dad-- actually, my mom to Thailand and Burma. And I've seen firsthand the work that this money goes to and the lives that it impacts. And you need to know you really are making a difference. You are creating life change all across the globe through your gifts to Reload Love and the Love Bomb. So thank you for partnering with us in that.
Right now, would you mark your Bibles to John chapter 13 verse 34 through 35 for a message I've titled All You Need is Love. And this series has been so fun for us to envision and create all the different creative elements for. And we love the way it turned out, the way it looked. But we're talking about peace, and we're talking about the desire for us to come together.
But the song "Give Peace a Chance" when John Lennon wrote it was really an anti-war protest song. This was the era when Vietnam War was happening. And the Beatles, and John Lennon, and a lot of the people of that era were revolting against the war and were protesting and rioting against what was happening around the world, not really any different from what we've seen in 2020, a lot of marches, and protests, and riots.
And I think it really shows something innate to the human nature. And that is all of us want to be a part of something. We want to be a part of a cause. We want to be a part of something bigger than us. And really, when it gets down to it, we want to change the world. We want to change society. And it seems like in our culture, every group has some kind of a revolution or uprising.
You can just pick one. There's a march happening every day for something different. Just in the past several years, think about the ones that we've seen-- the 99% Occupy Wall Street. With all that's going on in 2020, you probably forgot about that one, didn't you? The LGBTQ community has their gay pride days. In 2020, BLM marched in protest of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
And just recently this year, a group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol protesting the election results. And many of you were probably even watching the news trying to figure out what's going to happen today with that. But even the Oscars and Hollywood are all about causes now. Does it drive anyone else nuts to watch the Oscars now? I'm like just shut up and take your award. Get off stage. I don't want to hear your political views and all the things that you think are wrong with the country. Just be happy you got a little golden guy, and go home. Like, why?
As a matter of fact, even NBC News recognized this. And they wrote an article entitled Academy Award winners speeches are all about causes, saying everybody with a statue seems to have a cause. Over and over, the winners of the Academy Award have used their acceptance speeches to call attention to social injustice, mental health, and political debates.
The world is obsessed with making a difference. The problem is they don't know how. The tools that the world has to offer don't make the change in the difference that we really want to see in society. Every celebrity is a part of some charity now. I found a few celebrities and the charities that they were involved with.
Alec Baldwin, Pamela Anderson, Pink, and Woody Harrelson are people for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson, and Nicole Kidman stand for the March of Dimes. Mariah Carey is behind the Fresh Air Fund. Muhammad Ali founded Celebrity Fight Night Foundation Bono and Chuck Norris-- or sorry. Bono and Nicholas Cage are big advocates of Amnesty International. And Chuck Norris founded Kickstart Kids, which let's be honest, it should have been Roundhouse Kickstart Kids, because it's Chuck Norris. And Lance Armstrong obviously founded Livestrong-- or maybe now with everything that's come out Live Stronger With Steroids.
Every celebrity has some cause they're attached to, something that they want to champion. And we are trying to make a difference. But my question is as a society are we really succeeding in changing the world? Have we eliminated poverty? Have we eliminated murder? Have we destroyed hunger? Is disease magically gone? Well, ask COVID. Have wars ceased? As much as we want to change the world, we can't if we're using the world's tools.
And sometimes, I think as Christians we have the tendency to buy into this and believe that the way to change society is through the things the world tells us we should do to change society. And so we get bought in to boycotts and protests. Let me ask you. As a church, should our focus be on bringing about social change? Is that the role of the church today? In 2020, we've had a lot of people who think that it is.
And some people have gotten mad at us and told us we should talk more about political things. We should be more political, get more involved, that our focus should be on marches, and boycotts, and protests. I'll let you know you will not find that pattern in the New Testament. Many people today say, if you want to change society, change society, and men and women will get better.
But Jesus, in essence, says all throughout the Gospels that if you change men and women, you will get a better society. The focus isn't on creating political or environmental changes and hoping that people will get better with those changes. The goal that Jesus has is to change people, change men and women, change their hearts, change their eternal destinations and their souls. And that's how we'll see the change we want to see in society. That's how the moral fabric of society will grow and get better.
And I believe that if Jesus were here today, if He saw the state of the world with all of our boycotts and protests, if He was walking this Earth, He would tell us that all you need if you want to see society change is love, but not the kind of love and peace that Paul McCartney and John Lennon talked about. All you need is God's love to change the world.
I believe that instead of focusing on politics or Christian rights, the message of John 13 verse 34 to 35 is that all you need is love, because if there is one thing that should characterize the church, it's love. Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." And so tonight as we study this verse and the verse before it, there's one thing I want you to take away.
And this is my outline, but it's also a simple sentence that if you really want to see change in society, change in the world, change in Albuquerque, change throughout New Mexico, there's one simple thing that I want you to take away and leave this place with. And that is that love like Jesus' changes lives. Love like Jesus' changes lives. And if we want to see the world changing it better, if we see lives changed, the world will in turn change as well.
At times, we speak up and we make a difference. And that's good. And I'm not saying all of this to say that we shouldn't be involved politically, or we shouldn't have a voice in the political arena. I think we should use the rights that we've been given by our founding fathers and our forefathers to make our voice heard in the political arena. But I believe if we really want to see the lasting change we desire, the way to change the world is through love. And a love like Jesus' changes lives.
Let's read our texts and see our first point, which is simply love. John chapter 13 verse 34 to 35, if you have your Bibles with you. If not, it'll be right up here behind me. It says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Verse 35, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
I want you to notice what it says there at the beginning of verse 34. It says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another." Now, if you're like me, you read that and say, I don't think this is a new commandment. I think I've read in other places in the Bible where it tells us to love each other, that it tells us to love people. I feel like that's actually a pretty common theme in the Bible.
As a matter of fact, I seem to remember somewhere in Leviticus it saying that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. That's like the second greatest commandment, isn't it? Love God and then love others. It's important to mention that when Jesus is bringing this up, he's not saying it's new chronologically. That is to say it's not new information. Rather, there's a new understanding, a new application for believers today. There's a new application to your life as a believer for Jesus to tell you that you are to love one another.
See, the word for love that Jesus uses here is a word that you should all know as good Bible students. And it's the beautiful word for love, agapao or agape. Now, what's so special about this word is this is a word that isn't found in any other pagan Greek literature. It is only found in Christian sources. It is truly a love that is unique to Christians and God. It is a love that you cannot have or possess outside of a relationship with God. It's a love that's unique from the world's love.
And I think this is important, because we already talked about wanting to change the world. If we try to use the world's systems and the world's tools, it's not working. We need a higher love. We need a stronger love. We need a deeper love, because the love and peace that the world talks about isn't enough. It's unique from the world's love. It's different from the Greek theleo, which talks about the feelings of love. And we're right now in the season of love. Tomorrow is the biggest day celebrating love. And it's so wishy-washy though.
In one sentence, you can say, I love pizza and I love my wife. And I feel like that's such a disservice to pizza. I'm just joking. My wife's in the front row. It's OK. She knows I'm kidding. But it just doesn't really mean anything anymore, does it? You can say I love you to somebody and then turn around and stab them in the back. People pledge their allegiance of love to one another before a pastor and then a year later divorce because of irreconcilable differences. It doesn't have the meaning that it was meant to have.
And its most full definition for the word agapao is this, a love of the will that leads to goodwill and benevolence. I want you to focus on both of those things, because there's two unique aspects of that. It is a love of the will. That is to say it's a choice. That is to say when you wake up, and you don't feel in love, you choose to love. It is a love of the will.
But it's not just a feeling or a choice you make. It's something that leads to action, because it leads to benevolence and goodwill. It doesn't focus so much on what love is. Rather, agapao focuses on what love does. See, love that Jesus talks about here is active, not abstract. Love doesn't just talk; it walks. Love is fully love only when it acts. Love doesn't just make you feel something. It makes you do something. Come on.
Where's my DC Talk fans that "Luv Is a Verb," right? Toby Mac's been spinning that jam for decades. Love is a verb! It does something! It's active! It changes things. It changes the world around it. It's part of why I love Love Bomb so much. We have an opportunity to physically show love to people across the world, to physically show them that we care about them, to show them that we support them, not just talk about it and say, oh, it's so sad, those kids, that video, oh, oh. That's what the world does. We're Christians. We do something. When we see a need, we rise to the occasion. We make a difference. We don't just talk about it.
1 John, chapter 3, verse 18 says, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but indeed and in truth." Jesus then tells us who to love. He tells us to love-- there's a new commandment of love. But who are we supposed to love? He says love one another. Let me ask you a question. When Jesus was delivering these words in the upper room, who was He talking to? The disciples.
There was 11 of them in the room, because Judas already did his thing, and he split. And we know where that story ends. There is 11 dudes in there, and they're hanging out with Jesus. And He tells them around dinner, hey, a new commandment I give to you guys. Love one another. But I want to say this is just as applicable to us in this day and age in this room to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is a new commandment to you, to love the person next to you, in front of you, behind you, the person that you purposely sit 10 rows away from, because you don't want to have an awkward conversation with them, the person that you walk in and when you see them you go to another entrance so that there's no awkward tension, the person that you might have gossiped about, or the person that might have gossiped about you. This is a call and a commandment upon every believer, every person who claims the name of Jesus Christ, to love one another.
Acts chapter 2 verse 44 describes what this love looks like in the body of Christ. If we are to love one another in the body of Christ, Acts 2:44 tangibly shows us what that looks like. It says, "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need."
Another beautiful Greek word is displayed here in Acts, and that's the word koinonia. And it means fellowship, communion, distribution, contribution, and partnership. And simply, it just means this. God's people take care of each other. We take care of each other. Again, love is not just an abstract idea. It's active. If I tell you I love you, that means that if I see you in need, I take care of you. I take what I have and I give it to you, so that God can use what I've given to you to do something with it.
Again, another reason why I love Love Bomb, there's believers in another part of the world. And we're taking what we have, and we're seeing them, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who we're going to be with in heaven, we're seeing the need that they're in, and we're giving what we have to what they need, so that they can do something with it to further the gospel and create more life change all across the world. It's a beautiful concept, this partnership that Jesus invites us into. The early church looked out for each other. And God has a unique plan for His church in this world.
Paul tells us in Romans that we as Christians are the called of Jesus Christ. What does this mean? Well, to begin with, it means that God's people are called out. The Greek word for church is ecclesia, which comes from the verb meaning to call out. And that is to say God's people, you and I, are called out of this world system that is hostile to God, which again, it means we need to stop using the systems of the world to accomplish peace in the world.
If we're called out of this world, that means the things the world has to offer to bring about change aren't going to work. We need to use something differently. We are called out. But God's people are not only called out. We are called together. Jesus said, "I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."
The word for church here is, again, ecclesia. But here, the term means gathering. It adds another element to this. We are to be a gathering, a called out gathering. The church that Jesus Christ promises to build isn't a denomination or a building. It is you and I. It is our care and our love for each other. And as long as we remain together, united in love, no one, not even death, can stop us.
You need to understand this. The future of the church, the future of the church that your kids will grow up in, that your grandkids will grow up in, the future of the church hangs on our willingness to be one and to be united. The way we build our gathering isn't through boycotts, or protests, or services, or clever campaigns, or events. The way that we build our gathering is through love, unity, and community.
In Acts 2:44, we read, Now all who believed were together. They worshipped together. They prayed together. They read the scripture together. They ate together. They gave their tithes and offerings together. They shared the gospel together. You and I are a part of the church that Jesus purchased, heads, and protects. And we are called to be together in love, and unity, and community. And yet, tragically, so many churches today are shrinking in number. So many churches have faced horrible and divisive splits.
Many are disillusioned by what has happened to them in church as well. We hear all too often today, well, there's too many hypocrites at church. Who's ever heard that as a response of why you don't go to church? There's too many hypocrites there. Therefore, they decide not to be a part of church at all. And they say, I've become bitter. I'm angry at the church now. I'm mad at the church.
Why? Because you've suddenly discovered that it's not made up of perfect people, but instead, people like you, people who make mistakes, people who sin. What do you think the church was? I've heard my dad say for years, the church is not a museum for Saints, but it's a hospital for sinners. If the church was for perfect people, I hate to break it to you, but you wouldn't be allowed to come. If the church was for perfect people, I wouldn't be allowed to come. None of us would be allowed to come. If the church was for a perfect people, there would be no church.
I spoke to someone recently who mentioned a mutual friend that was no longer attending church. We were talking, and she said, well, he's still walking with the Lord. He just doesn't go to church. And I heard that. And I'm forced to look at what that person said compared to what Jesus said that the world will know you're My disciples by your love for one another.
And I'm forced to say, can you be both a Christian and have no fellowship with other Christians? I don't know that it's possible. You could maybe still have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. But the question, can you really actively live out the Christian life that Jesus has called you to do? The answer to that is a clear no. You can't, without being in community, in unity loving one another.
The call upon us is to love one another. That means fellowshipping with one another. That means caring for one another. This isn't a casual request from Jesus. He's not saying, hey, if you think about it, if you have time, love each other. No. This is a new commandment I give to you, a commandment. Love one another. By this the world will know you're My disciples. Love one another.
This leads us to our second point-- if we are to love, the question is, how are we to love? Well, Jesus answers that for us. We are to love like Jesus. Look at verse 34. He continues by saying, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Whoo! It just got real. Right?
If it wasn't already like a high benchmark to love people we don't like, now He's saying, you have to love them the way that I love you. You've got to love them to the extent that I've loved you. The benchmark for our love is the love that Jesus Christ has for us. Later on in John 15:12, Jesus repeats this idea. And He says, love them as I have loved you.
Let me ask you, how is it that Jesus has loved us? Jesus loved those the world hated. Jesus touch those the world shunned. Jesus went to those that the world avoided. And Christian, you don't get to determine what is good enough. You don't get to determine how far is far enough. Jesus also said to let our light so shine before men. But I'm convinced that if we spend our lives trying to be bright, we're never going to be bright enough.
Don't try to be bright. Try to be Jesus. Don't try to be loving. Try to be Jesus. Remember, we are to be daily conformed into the image of His son, Jesus Christ. So every day you wake up, we need to learn how to look a little bit more like Jesus. How do I look like Jesus today? How do I love more like Jesus today? How do I go to those that I don't want to today? How can I die to myself and take up my cross today? How can I love the unlovely today?
How can I pour myself out until I have nothing left? But I'm going to get up, and I'm going to love some more, because that's what Jesus Christ did. Remember this. Each and every person you see on the street, on the news, in church is somebody's son or daughter, somebody's mother or father. sister or brother, husband or wife. And we are called to love like Jesus every single one of them. How can you look more like Jesus today? How can you reflect the son a bit more within your life?
I believe two words perfectly describe the love that God has for us. We're called to love like Jesus. And that seems pretty big and grand. After all, God is love. So basically, we're supposed to be God. How are we supposed to be like God? And it seems unattainable. So I want to break it down for you and give you two practical ways that your love can look more like the love that Jesus has for you. And I believe those two words are kindness and forgiveness. I think that really perfectly describes the love that Jesus has for us.
As a matter of fact, Ephesians 4:32 has a similar call to John 13:34. But it articulates what it looks like to love somebody like Jesus loves them. Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Forgiveness and kindness, these two aspects perfectly describe a love like Jesus.
It says in there, forgiving each other just as Christ God forgave you-- or just as in Christ God forgave you. To love like Jesus means that we have to have a love that exudes forgiveness. And love's forgiveness is the determination in your heart. Remember, I said before agapao, it's a love of the will. It's a choice you make.
It's the determination, the choice you make in your heart that no matter how many times someone hurts you over and over again, no matter how many times someone takes advantage of you, no matter how many times you come on the other end of a relationship or a friendship and you say, I feel like I gave everything, and they gave nothing.
I feel like I just constantly get destroyed in these relationships, because I'm too loving and too forgiving. You need to understand in God's economy, you can't be too forgiving or too loving. It's the ability to be taken advantage of over and over again, and you still choose to love them.
Jesus was speaking on the topic of forgiveness when Peter asked him what he thought was a pretty question. I honestly think it was a loaded question. Peter's one of those guys who liked to ask questions that he had the answer to to make himself look better in front of the Apostles. That's what I think. Maybe I'm reading into it a bit too much. But he's like, hey, Jesus, how many times should I forgive somebody when they sin against me? And then, before he gets an answer, he gives what he thinks is a pretty good answer. He's like, like seven times?
He thought he did pretty good there, seven times, that's a lot Jesus. Judas, I think he's like a one and you're done. You're out. Seven times. Jesus replies to him in perfect Jesus fashion, I tell you not seven times but 70 times 7. Jesus said, no, no, not seven times, Peter, 490 times. And of course, the number what is important. The idea is that however many times he sins against you, you forgive him.
So who's the person in your life that you've written off? Who's the person in your life that you're done? I want to be clear here. Forgiving somebody doesn't necessarily always mean a restoration in relationship. And there's times when you forgive somebody more for yourself than even for them. But it gets your heart right, where you don't have any bitterness or grudges in your heart.
So when you come into church and you sing those songs, you don't have that moment of saying, oh, I'm really mad at that person. Who's the person that you need to seek some restoration with, that you need to seek a phone call with, or maybe a little coffee shop meeting since we can now have 25% of people inside restaurants because that makes sense? Who's the person you need to go talk to?
I saw a bumper sticker that said, don't get mad, get even. How many times have you heard a Christian say, hey, don't worry; they're going to get what they deserve. They're going to answer for their sin. Basically, in essence, saying, hey, don't worry; they're going to go to hell. So don't worry about them, because they're going to burn in hell. That's basically what that comment says.
As Jesus lay dying on the cross bleeding out, His concern was for His murderers rather than for Himself. This is what it looks like to love like Jesus. It's a love that turns the other cheek. It's a love that allows itself to be taken advantage and hurt over and over again. And yet, it chooses to get up and keep on loving. Its primary concern is for others, not for itself.
Matthew 5:38-39 says, "You have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you don't resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, give him your cloak also." Now I know we all always like to think about everything that Jesus says as allegorical. But I think Jesus is being pretty upfront and literal here.
If somebody slaps you in the face for being a Christian, turn your cheek and let him slap the other side. If somebody sues you and takes away your things, freely give them something else. Why do I think it's literal? Because it's literally what Jesus did when He died on the cross, literally, not allegorically or figuratively. He literally did it. He prayed for those who were murdering him.
A love like Jesus doesn't react to the wrongs of others. It allows others to wrong itself. That could revolutionize and possibly change the way you view relationships. A love like Jesus doesn't react to the wrongs of others. It allows others to wrong itself. And it keeps on loving. This is what it looks like to love like Jesus. This is what love is.
A second aspect in a facet of the love that Jesus has for us is kindness. He has forgiveness. That is that he will constantly forgive you no matter how many times you fail, no matter how many times you've messed up. He will keep on forgiving you. And He calls us to do the same. A second aspect is His kindness and goodness towards us is neverending, and it is abounding.
It also says in Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another." If forgiveness will take anything from others, kindness will give anything to others. Or framed in light of what Jesus said, if forgiveness allows its tunic to be taken away, kindness will give its cloak away. Kindness is a love like Jesus' that is active goodwill. Remember, I said before, agapao. It is a love of the will, forgiveness, choosing to forgive over and over again.
But it's a love of the will leading to goodwill and benevolence. It doesn't just feel generous; it is generous. It doesn't just desire change; it works for change. And you need to understand this. If love is only learned but not lived, it is a lie. If all you ever do is hear about love, and talk about love, and think about love, and learn about love, but you never walk out those doors and put it into practice, it's a lie. It's the same thing as what the world has to offer. It's just a word. It's just a feeling.
We need to put ourselves into a place where when we're sitting here digesting the word that God has for us that we're thinking about the areas in our life that we need to put into practice that week. If we're just writing down notes for somebody else to tell them how good the message was, and we're not thinking practically how we can apply it and change our lives because of it, we're missing the point of what the word of God wants to do within our lives.
Again, Jesus is the perfect example of this. Romans 2:4 says, "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience? Not knowing that the kindness"-- that is the goodness-- "of God leads you to repentance?" I love that word kindness, goodness. I just think. Have you had those moments in your life where something happens and you're like, oh, so good. That's like all you can say about it. That's so good. That's the love of God. It's so good. And it leads you to repentance.
I find most often what brings people to repentance isn't scaring them into repentance. It isn't shaming them into repentance. It's loving them into repentance. A new commandment I give to you, love one another as I have loved you. If we exhibit the love that Jesus has for us to the world around us, it is such an attractive thing, when they see the forgiveness and the kindness of God working through our actions. Well, we've looked at what it means to love and more importantly, what it means to love like Jesus.
Now, let's look at our third and final point. And that is this, love like Jesus' changes lives. At the beginning of the message, I talked about how our society tries so many different things to bring about change. And I asked you the question, if we as a church should focus on bringing about social change, if that's the role of the church today to focus on marches, and boycotts, and protests?
And again, the world's trying to change itself, but it's not really making a difference. We haven't eliminated poverty. We haven't eliminated murder. We haven't destroyed hunger. Disease is still rampant. Wars have not ceased. As much as we want to change the world, we can't. Jesus gives us the answer to how we can change the world in John 13:35. He says, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Whoo! It's a big if.
This is how we change the world. We don't change the world through politics. We don't change the world through riots. We don't change the world through boycotts or protests. We don't change the world through environmental change, or political change, or systemically changing society around us. We change society by loving each other. And when the world sees the love that we have for each other and in turn the love that we have for them, they'll change.
Do you want to change the world? A love like Jesus' changes lives, and changed lives change the world. The world will know you're My disciples by your love for one another. It shouldn't be surprising to the world, but it is when Christians love people. You realize that not this church but the Church, big C, at times is more known for its rejection of certain people than its respect for all people. At times, we can be known more for our cruelty than our compassion. At times, we can show more harshness than humanity.
And Jesus tells us here that the world will know we are believers by our love for others. Get this. This is huge. Your identity as a believer is not found in your love for God, but rather your love for other people. That's what Jesus said. The world will know you're My disciples, not by your line for Me, but by your love for each other. That means the world will tell you're a Christian, not by your what would Jesus do bracelet, but by how well you love your neighbor, by how well you love the person in front of you, or behind you, or next to you.
If Jesus didn't finish that sentence, how would you fill it in? The world will know you're My disciples if-- if your theology matches mine? If you go to the church that I go to? If you teach the Bible this way? If you give this amount of money to these organizations? If you worship in this way or use these gifts? No. Jesus said, you are My disciples if you have love for one another.
The first thing we so often forget is the simplest thing. If there is one thing that should characterize the church, it is love. It is the simple bedrock foundational truth upon which the entire gospel holds, love. Jesus loved us, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. It is love. It is the center.
But so many things get in the way over time. The longer we immerse ourselves in religion, the more prone we become to forgetting what makes it work in the first place. We become so caught up in events, and services, and theology, and ministry that we forget the why. Let me ask you this. A lot's happened in 2020. And I have a feeling that 2021 is just the beginning. And it's important what's happening in the world. Let me ask you this. Has your attention to what is momentarily important diminished your passion for what is monumentally important?
Because what is monumentally important is that your neighbor goes to heaven, not that they agree with you politically. What is monumentally important is that lives are changed by the power of the gospel for the glory of God, not that society changes through new legislation or bills that are going to pass. Are we more inclined to protest than we are to pray? Are we more interested in who's in the White House than who is in here, in God's house? Are we more interested in boycotts than we are in the salvation of our family and friends? Have we left our first love?
Tim Keller says this, "When the world sees the church doing evangelism, making converts, it only sees us increasing our numbers and increasing our power. But when it sees us sacrificially serving the needs of our neighbors, whether they believe or not, then it may see that we are motivated by love not the desire for power. We must both preach the gospel and serve those who can do nothing for us in return."
The way we build this church, the way we build this gathering is love. And the future of the church hangs on our willingness to love. And that love reflects Jesus. I want you to imagine for a second how hostile the world is to Christianity right now. But imagine a world where people were skeptical about what we believed, but envious of how well we loved each other.
If they looked at our beliefs and said, that seems weird to me; I'm not quite there, but man, the way they love each other, the way they care for each other, the way they love me, even though I don't like them, the way they treat me with kindness and compassion. Imagine what would happen if the world saw that? I can tell you what would happen. Their lives would be changed because of it. They would see what we have, and they would want what we have. They would want that relationship and that love that they are missing in their lives.
A love like this, a love like Jesus' changes lives. This is what revival looks like. If we can get this, if we can nail this down, this is what revival looks like, seeing people excited and passionate about the simple gospel, not fighting and bickering about specific doctrines, seeing Christians more focused on how to make others feel comfortable instead of how to make themselves more comfortable, focusing on our own character, our own motives, our own heart, and our own application of God's word, not what other people are doing. The minute we become so comfortable in our pews that we forget about people, we perish.
And again, I think this is such a special weekend, because we have this very tangible opportunity to show that it's not just about our pews. It's about people, our brothers and sisters across the world who are in need, who need somebody to show them that they're cared for, that they're loved. We have an opportunity to express that, and not just at Love Bomb.
We have opportunities to express this every day through things like Feed New Mexico Kids, through incredible ministries in the city like Aspen Project and Project ZOE, through things like Samaritan's Purse, through opportunities like food banks or simply just going out and having conversations with people. We have opportunities to display this through connect groups as we meet together with other Christians and show practical love to one another, and unity, and community and have that opportunity to do what the early church did in Acts. We have opportunities to display this.
But the minute we forget about people is the minute it all falls apart. And I want to speak to you right now, if you're here tonight, and you've been hurt, you've been judged by other Christians. Maybe you got invited tonight by a friend. Maybe you're watching online, and somebody invited you to watch. Or maybe you've been a believer for a long time, but you still have a lot of baggage, a lot of burdens, for maybe being hurt early on in the church. Maybe people said things to you that didn't reflect the gospel.
If you've been mistreated by the church, if you've had your story written for you before anyone takes the time to listen to you, I want to personally apologize to you. Even if I wasn't the one who did it, I want to apologize to you, because what you've seen is not a reflection of Christ. It's not a reflection of a love like Jesus'. Jesus loves you desperately, desperately. He has so much forgiveness for you. It doesn't matter how far you've fallen, how far you've gone, what you've done.
I don't care what you've done. What He did is bigger. What He did is stronger. He has so much forgiveness for you. He has so much kindness for you. He wants to take your sin and your shame, forgive you for it, and then bestow upon you goodness, and kindness, and blessing, and love, and peace. He loves you, and so do we.
And our vision and our desire is that every person would feel welcome in this place, every person would feel safe in this place, every person would feel loved in this place, because we will make the decision as Christians to remember the forgotten, to pursue the marginalized, to fight for the oppressed, to love the outcast. We will love like Jesus, because we believe that a love like Jesus' changes lives.
Those whom the world has forgotten, those whom the church has marginalized, those whom the government has oppressed, those whom society has cast out, they are standing on street corners. They are sitting in orphanages. They are stuck in prison cells. They are trapped in addiction. They are victims of where they were born. They are broken because of what someone did to them. We will love them like Jesus and believe that through our love their lives will be changed.
But I'm going to warn you. To love like Jesus means both sacrifice and commitment. You've got to put skin in the game. And I'll also say this. Even if you've been mistreated by the church or by a Christian, that's not an excuse for unbelief. Encountering an unloving believer never excuses an unbelieving behavior. The Bible says that each person has to give their own account to Christ.
And it doesn't matter what you've done or what's been done to you. Jesus wants to take all that baggage, all that pain, and He wants you to come to Him. When Jesus came and hung on that cross, He wasn't dying for you. He was dying as you. Your sins were upon His shoulders. And He wants to take all that sin, all that pain, all that baggage. He wants to take it to the cross, and He wants to let it be crucified with Him.
He loves you. Will you accept His love? Lord, we thank You for Your word and the way that it changes our lives and encourages us and exhorts us to be stronger and better believers, to love one another as You have loved us. But Lord, before we can ever love anyone the way You've loved us, we have to receive Your love. We have to experience Your love.
And if you're in here tonight, and you've never experienced the love of Jesus Christ in your life, if you were to ask yourself right now if you were to die right now, where would you go, to heaven or hell? and you can't confidently say that you'd go to heaven, I want to give you an opportunity to experience the love of Christ and know that when you die, you're going to heaven.
And you're saying, Nate, you don't know what I've done. You don't know how far I've fallen. My marriage is in shambles. My bank account, my kids, they don't like me. You don't know where I've been. I don't care where you've been, because Jesus Christ has been to a hill called Calvary. And on that hill called Calvary, He was nailed to a cross. And He died, and your sins were upon His shoulders. And if you choose to accept that free gift that He has given, it doesn't matter what you've done. You will be forgiven.
And so right now, if you're in here and you want to accept the love of Jesus Christ in your life, if you want to be forgiven of your sin, and you want to know that when you die you're going to go to heaven, I want you to just raise your hand. And this might be a first time decision for you. Keep the lights dimmed. This might be a first time decision for you. This might be a recommitment. And you might have walked away from God, but you need to come back to Him.
Just raise up your hand right here in the front. Raise it up, so I can see that you're saying, I need Jesus. Like reaching out for a life preserver, you're saying, I don't want to deal with the shame, and the pain, and the depression, and the anxiety, and all the things that keep me up at night. I want to be washed white as snow. If that's you, just raise your hand. Hey, man, right over here.
Well, for those of you who raised your hand, will you just say this prayer after me? I see several of your hands throughout the auditorium. Just say, Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt You. But Lord, I believe You died for those things. And I believe that You rose from the dead. So I ask You to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life, and I turn to You. Fill me with Your love and Your spirit and help me to live for You. In Jesus' name, I pray.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.