Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Loving God’s people – Part VII

In our current series of blogs, we will look together at John 13.1-30 and see what a church that loves God’s people looks like.

What will heeding the command to love God’s people look like?

This is a place filled with countless opportunities to practically serve each other.  We will need to work hard at seeing and seizing these opportunities to demonstrate this love to each other week in week out.

But there is more to this.  The call to other person centred love in this new church is more radical that practical responses.  Jesus is not simply calling for some sort of repetition of this foot washing scene – a token practical expressions of love, that might mask a superficial concern for others.

The model Jesus gives us here and most decisively on the hill of Calvary is a servant-hearted love that is committed to the long-term joy and blessing of others.

Jesus says, unless I wash you, you have no part in me.  Our job is to promote each others share in Christ.  To see those around us, grow to treasure him more, to rejoice in the blessing of knowing him and being known by him, to enjoy the blessing that such a person then becomes.

So we come before each other…knees bent…towel in hand…able to say (as our Lord does)…I come among you as one who serves.

We long to be a church that serves the immediate needs of one another.  But we alos long to be a church that goes way beyond this.  We long to promote each others long term joy in Christ – loving each other by being committed to one another’s passion for Jesus…hope…and godliness…by keeping each other accountable…by spurring one another to even more love…

What will that look like on Sundays?
It will mean a wholehearted commitment to Sundays, not coming as a customer, nor as a passenger…

It will mean seeing Sunday as an opportunity to increase each others’ long term joy in Christ…
  • Be here every Sunday
  • Come with joy and expectation:
    • Opportunities to serve each other…by increasing each others long term joy in Jesus…
  • Come early:
    • Opportunities to serve
    • Opportunities to meet new people
  • Pray before you come…about serving when you get there
  • Treat church…not as a club…but a family…
    • Commitment…forbearance…no cliques…not giving up on people
  • Stick around…
  • Receive the word…
    • Thankfully…for you and others…
    • Expectantly…for you and others…
    • Purposefully…for you and others…
  • Look for new people…and people in need

What will that look like in Small Groups?

I want to suggest that Small Groups are where we most deliberately and most realistically seek to obey the command of John 13.34, where we serve each other’s growth in long term joy in Jesus.

Here is again the radical testimony that a church obeying this command is.  Consider the miracle that a Small group is…yes even warts and all small groups!  Consider the miracle of a group gathered in a lounge room or a foyer or a pub.  A group gathered, as God, by his spirit does a deep work in a few, by his word dwelling richly.  A word we speak to each other in that context to grow each other’s joy in Jesus (there is not greater commitment to the good of your brother or sister than that!)

A group that can be there with practical love when needs come, when suffering comes.  They can be there when you need someone to pull you back from sin.  Or when you need someone to spur you on to love and glorify God – at work…in your family…a small group is where we do that!

Now this might seem overstated…small groups are not the silver bullet…but then…of course they are!  Jesus tells us to gather like that…to love one another deeply and from the heart.  Here in a world where Judas’ heart reigns…is a group of brothers and sisters committed to each others good…loving each other… teaching…rebuking… praying…comforting… carrying…pushing each other to treasure Christ more! 

As we head out on this project together remember why Jesus calls you to this life…if we do this…we will be blessed…each one and together…we will be at work presenting this church…not only when we’re gathered…but also when scattered throughout the city…a church radiant in Christ…the more we bend the knee and serve…serving each other with the gospel…serving each other with lives shaped by that gospel…the more this church will shine like he does

If you do these things…You will be blessed!