Part one of this essay asked what love for God and love for others looks like. To answer that question, we looked at the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, and the “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13. (You can find part one at this link).
So, how will people know you and I are disciples of Jesus Christ?
For the sake of time we cannot now look at every point Paul makes in this 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, but we can glean enough insight into God’s expectations of us as we look at only a couple of Paul’s points.
For example, the apostle tells us in chapter 13, ‘Love is not jealous.’ Yet in chapter three he criticizes them: “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (verse 3)
Is there jealousy and strife among the Christians in your sphere? You can answer that question better than I can. What is the solution to those sinful attitudes? The Holy Spirit guides us to that answer, for example, in Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2)
You might memorize this short text. Its principle can flesh out every day in dozens of ways – whether in the dining room, or in conversations with one another, or simply permitting jealous thoughts to take root in our hearts. But our true relationship with Christ is most likely noticeable in how we treat others here at Ashwood – perhaps especially how we treat Christians of other denominational labels.
I heard something very disturbing recently from a woman who lives in another 55+ community. At that facility the Christians of one denomination don’t much bother with Christians of different denominations because their theologies do not line up word for word and line for line.
The godly 93-year-old woman who told me this story was part of my Bible study for three years at the other place where I also lead a Bible study. One of the residents at that new place even had the chutzpah to tell her she is not going to heaven because of the church she attends.
I’m not talking here about false religions and non-Christian faiths. If you have listened to my Bible studies or sermons for more than two weeks you know that I know Jesus is very clear when He said no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). That means unless a person follows the Jesus of the Bible, he or she will not go to heaven after death.But what I am talking about here are Christ-centered groups such as Presbyterian and Catholic and Methodist and Episcopalian and Pentecostal and so on – churches (unless the particular local church has fallen into apostasy) churches which have historically taught and believed in the deity of Jesus, His virgin birth, His substitutionary self-sacrifice for our sins, His resurrection, and soon coming again.
People who believe in Jesus and obey Him to the best of their abilities, and who confess their sins as often as necessary – whatever their label, the Bible is clear as spring water – that person is going to heaven after death. But to believe someone is going to hell simply because they do not dot their Is and cross their Ts the same way you do it is nothing less than ungodly divisiveness.
And that was another problem Paul addressed to the Christians at Corinth when he said: ‘Love does not brag and is not arrogant.’ We find earlier in the letter Paul had to rebuke them for their internal divisions as they boasted: “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Paul then asked, “Has Christ been divided?” (1:12-13)
Listen! Satan knows Jesus said a house divided against itself cannot stand. That is precisely why he has used multiple strategies to divide and conquer, not just churches, but homes and nations.
I heard the other day there are some 80 million evangelical Christians in this nation. 80 million out of a population of something like 330 million. That’s roughly 25%. One quarter of the US population! Think how different things would be in this country if that monolithic group of 80 million united around Biblical values instead of engaging in the near constant attacking of their Christian brothers and sisters who belong to different Christian churches.
We would like to see revival in America, wouldn’t we? Well, the devil does not want that to happen. And THAT is why Satan divides us in America and yes, even churches across this country.
Paul writes further, “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.’ It does not, shall we say, turn a blind eye to open sin, as they in Corinth had done with the man who was committing incest with his stepmother.
Everyone knew about it. And it seemed no one cared about it. Perhaps they had fallen for the devil’s deception of ‘Live and let live,’ and ‘Who am I to judge?”
Have you heard that in your own circles? Most of you have, especially when it has to do with sexuality – whether homosexuality or heterosexual sins such as fornication and adultery. How many churches ignore or even make excuses for those in the pews – and even in church leadership – who live in direct disobedience to the clear word of God and the historic teaching of the church?
Listen, it is NOT agape love to turn a blind eye or – worse – an approving eye on those who, if they persist in their sin, will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is not love, it is cowardice and it’s destructive of the very one we say we care for.
How does that affect us here at Ashwood? Probably not for most of us. But many of us will have conversations with others who have gotten caught up in the godless and unbiblical philosophies of the culture and we should not be surprised that we will be asked our opinions – because people know you are a Christian and want to know your views. I urge you to not dance around the questions. You know what God’s word says. If they ask the question, tell them the truth.
People may not like your answers, but God Himself will like your truthfulness, and ultimately it is to Him alone that we must answer.How then are we to live? God help us to re-double our efforts with 2020 vision of the value of salvation and the value of agape love in bringing souls into the kingdom.
Life is but a vapor. We all know that. In the blink of an eye people will be saying the eulogy over us as we lie in some coffin at the front of some church. And only what is done for Christ will last into eternity.
The night is far spent, the day is close at hand. Let us then walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, who has not only called us to be His hands extended, but who has suffered and died for us.
We each want to hear the Lord Jesus say to us when we open our eyes in His presence, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
God help us to learn to love with a 1 Corinthians kind of love. Amen.