PASTOR RICK'S BLOG  

Love is what we need!!!!

I am 58 years old and I have never seen as much hate, division, anger and brazen violence as there is being manifested in our country today. In light of the recent shootings in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana the question is there hope?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

Listen up! The words of Jesus that were spoken 2000 years ago still resonate in 2016.

The test of our Christian character is not how we treat our friends; it’s how we treat our enemies; that’s the bottom line. You can really tell all there is to know about a man’s true spirituality by what he does when people attack him; by what he does when people despise, or hate, or persecute, or stand against, or criticize him because then will his hear be laid bare.

If he is a kingdom man of love, made so by the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ, he will love that person just as much as he will love his dearest friend, because it will be his character to love, and have little to do with the person involved.

Jesus said in verse 43,“Your tradition tells you to love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” That’s what you’ve learned. You have learned that there is a justification for hatred and animosity, and bitterness, and revenge, and resentment. You’ve been told that your pride is justified and your prejudice is allowable. You’ve been told that there are some people you well should hate. But verse 44, “I say unto you, love even your enemies.”

You see, what men do and what God commands are two different things. You see, the people to whom Jesus spoke thought they were good enough. He says, “You’re not good enough at all. Your kind of love is not adequate. Your kind of love is very, very narrow; it picks out its objects. The love of those in My Kingdom is indiscriminate; it loves friend and foe just the same” – just the same.

Listen up! The kingdom of God character doesn’t hate – it doesn’t even hate enemies – not Kingdom character. Not the kind of character that manifests godliness, not the kind that manifests the virtue of a transformed life.

All around Jesus were walls and fences. He came for the very purpose of bursting those barriers, so that love – pure, warm, divine, infinite love – would be able to flow straight down from the heart of God into the hearts of men. His love overleaped all the boundaries of race and nationality and party and age and sex.
When He said, ‘I tell you, love your enemies,’ He must have startled His audience, for He was saying something that probably never before had been said so succinctly, positively, and forcefully.”

Listen up we don’t try to figure out who our neighbor is. We are to be the neighbor to everybody, and then we won’t have a problem Jesus is calling for love towards those who are unkind to us, who speak against us. I don’t know how else to say it, other than to simply say it means to love everybody exactly the same, be it a friend or foe.

You say, “What do you mean by love, Rick?” I don’t mean affection. God doesn’t expect you to love them philia, like a friend. He doesn’t expect you to love them storgē, like you love someone in your own family. He doesn’t expect you to love them eros, affectionate, desiring love. But what He does say is to love them agapaō, which is a love that seeks their highest good and seeks to serve their needs.

When Jesus said in John 13, “Love one another as I have loved you,” He had just washed their feet. At that point, He wasn’t saying, “You know, these disciples are so wonderful, they’re just irresistible.”

No, they were cantankerous, ugly, arguing over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. They were acting sinful, they were self-motivated and self-centered, and couldn’t even be considerate enough to consider Christ going to the cross and comfort Him. They were acting about as ugly as they ever acted in the New Testament, and yet He said, “Love each other like I’ve loved you.” What did He do? He washed their dirty feet.

And that’s what He’s saying. Love is an act of service to one in need, not necessarily an emotion. You’ll notice that He says, “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”

Listen: a Christian is not someone who keeps the Sermon on the Mount. A Christian is somebody who knows he can’t, do you see – and comes to Jesus Christ for forgiveness for their sins, and receives from Christ the forgiveness, and then the power to begin to a life long journey of kingdom love.

That’s the point of this blog. Even when you fail, you’re forgiven, because Christ has paid the price for your sin. That’s the message. If you’re not a Christian, what’s the message to you? If you don’t love like this, that’s a sin, and if you’re a sinner, you need a Savior. Jesus Christ will come in and forgive your sin of lovelessness (my word). Jesus will cleanse your life, and He’ll plant His love in your heart, and then He will teach you how to love the way He wants you to love.

For some of you, this is a call to salvation. For some of you, it’s a challenge to let the love that’s there flow.

My seminary professor told us an illustration – about loving our enemies and it changed my life. Abraham Lincoln was held in contempt by a man named Stanton. He called Lincoln, “A low, cunning clown,” and he nicknamed him ‘the original gorilla,’ and he said that men were foolish to wander around Africa trying to capture a gorilla when they could find one in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln never said anything to Stanton, and because Stanton was the best man for the job, when Lincoln needed a war minister for the United States, he chose Mr. Stanton. He appointed him over all of the soldiers of the United States. He treated him with love and courtesy, and the years passed.

The night an assassin’s bullet tore out Lincoln’s life, in a little room to which the President’s body was taken, there stood that same Mr. Stanton, looking down into the silent face of Abraham Lincoln with all its ruggedness and character. And speaking through his tears, he said, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.” And because Mr. Lincoln could love him with a forgiving love, he received and returned his adoration.

Listen up! Jesus is calling us to love our unlovely, unlovable world with a love that knows no discrimination, and such a love will show that we’re like God, and reveal God to them.

The love that we need today July 8th, 2016 is the love of supernatural action which can only be manifested through the Holy Spirit of God.
Peace,
Pastor Rick

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