9/20 Love Does series.....Follow Me: Love vs. Self-Centeredness Matthew 16:24-28
There is this invisible tug-of-war we all can relate too, love vs. self-centeredness. A constant emotion tugging at our hearts and lives. We desire to be all that we can be to ourselves and to others. Can we ever get complete satisfaction in who we are and what we do? I must look after me, right? If I don’t who will? I just need a little time…a little money…a little space….whatever that little bit of might be, then once I feel like I’m getting it all together, then I will have it/time/?? to give to you. In the meantime, again, there’s a need out there, a call for help, something else that needs me... ugh...again? Can you call a different friend? Can’t you handle this yourself? Why do you need me again? I’m thinking somebody else just needs to get involved right? Lord, help me!
This is the final message in the Love Does series on what Love Does when we want to love like Jesus. We’ve learned that our actions of love are a way that we say to Jesus thank you for what you did for me. I’m forgiven and redeemed because of your love for me. We now know it is in our failures we learn our most important life lessons. I failed, but I’m not a failure. Learn from it and move on. Then there are those times we make God’s love visible to others. It comes out of us naturally, this joy, a peace, a happiness that explodes because I’m loving what I do. Yet we also learned that we are to love in those not so peaceful, not so happy times too. When our fears take over, it is because we’ve taken our eyes off of Jesus. You and I are no longer who we used to be. Now standing on the promises of God we can shout it out “I am in Christ”. Jesus takes our shame and anxiety and fears and helps us to overcome them. We are His, we now live in His love for us alone. In the series this week Jesus is saying, Follow Me. Sounds easy until we realize just where he wants us to follow sometimes. From the Love Does video this week, “Jesus says let’s go and do stuff and we’ll find out Who I Am, and who you are along the way”. What a journey that could be. Love Does says, take the next step, do something audacious, anywhere the hurting are is the place to jump in. Do something with my love, says Jesus. Bob Goff adds that God wants to blow our minds with how good He is! So, what holds you back? Could it be you? Could it be that it doesn’t fit into your timing right now? Could it be that it just seems so big what difference could I make anyway? John 3:30 says “He must increase, I must decrease”. Who or what is first in your life? Going from selfishness to humility? Lord help me!
During Children’s time this week Pastor George talked on Following Jesus and how we can take our selfishness and turn it into giving, serving, loving, in the lives of others, just like Jesus. The Scripture passage in Matthew 16:24 says “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”” To deny oneself is wrestling with a feeling of self-centeredness, says Pastor George. He stated that to deny yourself and Follow Me….in this we will discover our full potential, following in the footsteps of Jesus. He also read Philippians 2:3 “…but in humility count others more significant than yourself.” It’s our decrease, doing for Him in love, we humble ourselves, we lift them up, we esteem them. We sang that old hymn, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. To do so is to create a change in us when willingly we follow, in faith, says Pastor George. Once decided to be all in for Jesus we affirm there is no turning back and we follow His ways, His teachings, His love, we are to be all in, because of His grace and mercy.
Lee Parrott in his series in Right Now Media titled Love Like That says to truly love at the highest level, is to love like Jesus. In his series he discussed barriers we carry. He says to be mindful of your own agenda. We have an agenda about everything that keeps us focused on ourselves. To love like Jesus, you gotta see what others don’t. It’s right there before your eyes. To see from His eyes and not mine. We need to be approachable. To love like Him you can’t be exclusive. Lee says, you can’t limit your love to who deserves it and who doesn’t. Instead of judgementalism consider an unconditional positive regard for people you meet. Quit tearing down others to build oneself up. Receive God’s grace so that you can give it to others. In Love Like That we learned about not living behind a mask for acceptance, but boldly speak truth in love. Spiritual maturity is an inside job, mature and firm in faith. In boldness give authentic love, as He does. Our self-giving requires something deep down in our nature, the maturity, the capacity to empty ourselves for someone else, is self-giving love. To go the extra mile, to walk in someone else’s shoes and feel the hurt and step in, that’s when you really begin to love like Jesus.
Another series this week was Becoming a Women whose God is Enough by Cynthia Heald. She is an author on Women’s Bible studies, but the content is for all. We heard again of idols, those things that are more important than God. Pride, that keeps us full of ourselves. And when we are full of ourselves, we cannot be full of the Spirit says Cynthia. She affirms that we can never really be sure of the paths he will lead us to, but wherever, we are to follow, there He will be. We go in faith. Much of her studies include quotes from notable people. She shared this from Mike Mason, “To have faith is to have trust in the faithfulness of God knowing that faithfulness is first and foremost not a human but a divine attribute. Our God is faithful, do we trust Him, in all things, that’s our faith in our God who is faithful.” And another she shared from Oswald Chambers, “If you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you.” When we say “I” will take – then God cannot say I will give, says Cynthia. We are to always be in the center of His will. We are to Follow. From Andrew Murray she shared “Joy is the sign that God is everything to you.” To love like Jesus is to love God. God is enough. In Divine Fellowship Cynthia shares this, “I am at your command, what do you want your servant to do?” It’s a bowing of the heart and a bending of the will to His will for our lives, there we are to live.
So how are we to let go and let God? How do we exercise this kind of love? Both Lee Parrott and Cynthia Heald said that the Holy Spirit was sent to empower us to love like Jesus. Let the Holy Spirit work through you, loving like Jesus is an internal quest says Lee Parrott. It’s not a doing and done kind of thing, but a being – love like Jesus when we allow Jesus to live through us. In John 16: 12-15 we read that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will guide you. A friend in us – be an extension of Christ.
Lord help us. May we find that complete satisfaction that we long for in you. May our actions of love reflect yours. In our failures and fears we know that you are there. Keep our eyes fixed on you as we follow you. Holy Spirit come dwell within each of us as you guide and empower us to love, Amen.
Larry and Darlene