The past several weeks, my pastors have been focusing on true Christianity through love of others (based on 1 Corinthians 13). Today was the final week and there was a lot of focus on how we show this love to our neighbor to our family and to our friends. If we do not have love, then what is there to show for. In my previous post about Identity, I talked about the problem of trying to love the body of Christ (The Church) when we cannot love our self. The problem that we have in the body is our own identity crisis. We are a new creation: Ephesians 1:4-5 " For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-." Colossians 2:13-14 " When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 3:12 " Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." So what are we to do? For we are all broken and sinful and continue to battle against are old flesh and against powers and principalities that desire to destroy us. We try to do things are own way. We hold back forgiveness. We fail to love when Christ loved us first. I would love to be able to tell you that I can resist all of these previous statements and that I am a mature Christian lacking none, however, I cannot. You can ask my wife and my kids and my closest friends and accountability partners and they will all tell you that I fail regularly. There are sometimes small victories and some good days (more like moments and minutes) that I do show signs of hope (Jesus's love shining through) but I have to admit that I get tired, selfish, hungry and angry. I do sin every day contrary to my desire - so what hope do we have?
Our hope is not in our flesh, but in Christ Jesus. He bore the sins of the world and took them all to the Cross. In our sins and iniquity Christ bore all and conquered death. For those who confess his name and bear his fruit, the Kingdom of Heaven is ours to claim. There is no power or person that can take us away (snatch us) from the love of the Father. We are a new creation who are called sons and daughters of God. Galatians 3:26-27 " You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Hear are some action steps for us to take:
1) Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the center of the page (On the left side write down this list: Galatians 5:19-21 The Message (MSG) 19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.). NOW on the right side of the page, write down this list: Galatians 5:22-26 The Message (MSG) 22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. 23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. 25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.". Once you have done this, then check all those that apply to you and your life (your walk). If you line up more with the left (the sinful nature - repent) if, you line up with the right, then continue to trust and obey and use your gifts to show those around you less of you and more of Jesus.
2) Get involved in a bible study (in a men or women's bible study). Find accountability partners (those who you can be completely and bitterly honest too without being judged). Look for mentors and look for mentees if you are bearing fruit of the Spirit.
3) Pray - continually (throughout the day)
4) Love (love others, love co-workers, love lost ones love family and love your neighbor as yourself (BUT first love yourself as a son and or daughter of God).
5) What are some of your thoughts and ideas?
Let me know,