A mentor of mine told me “The greatest obstacle you will face in your road to ordination will be God’s very own people”. I have found that sadly, to be true. As I have been “ReThinking” fellowship. It has made me ask myself, why don’t people want to get really involved with the church. There are many common answers to that question between church leaders today. The top three responses are…
- They perceive Christians as judgmental. That’s why many people in the restaurant business hate working Wednesdays and Sundays because they get the “Church” crowd and they complain about EVERYTHING. That’s why people don’t want to bring their kids to church because when they are seen dragging a crying kid in, they might not get anything said to them but, the glares and stares they do get speak volumes and That’s why people don’t want to come to bible study because they hear gossip in the form of a prayer request.
- The Message is inclusive but, the people are exclusive. This means the gospel is for everyone but, the veterans in the church don’t include new people and are seen as threatening to their territory
- They don’t like organized religion. By this they don’t mean that the church shouldn’t bank money properly or have filing cabinets but, that they don’t like the politics and abuse of power found in the church today.
Gandhi has said…” “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Many Christians today would rather wear a cross around their neck instead of on their back as Jesus did & many would rather carry a pillow instead of their cross because they have been sleeping on their faith for way to long.
Let’s see what God has to say about what a “Christian” and their fellowship with God and people should look like.
1 John 2:3-11
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
To know that we Know Him
- We keep his commands v.3-4
We can study and research all we want about something or someone but, does that mean that we know them in a personal and intimate way? No it doesn’t. We can study and research all we want about Lebron James. Read all his stats. How many shots he made. What his field goal percentage is and how many rebounds he gets per game. But, all the stats and information in the world won’t help us to know him on a personal level. God wants an intimate relationship with his children. He wants full custody and not just weekend visitations on Sunday morning.
The first verse says that we have come to know him if we obey his commandments. So what are these “commandments”. At first glance we might be tempted to believe that he is referring to the mosaic law. Then Ten commandments in the Old Testament. But, contextually this wouldn’t make much sense since there isn’t much reference to that at all in this epistle but, he does say later In 1 John 3:23 “.And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
Jesus was referring to the Spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. This is where I think the church has messed up. Especially in trying to define Holiness. We have made it legalistic based on external results instead of focusing on what’s in the heart. We have become modern day pharisees by condemning people who hold hands in church, where shorts, or use dance as an expression of worship. By this we aren’t obbeying God’s commands to love God and love people. Instead of loving Jesus, we love Judging. The Apostle Paul makes a bold statement by saying that those who don’t obbey these commands yet claim to know God are liars and the truth is not in them.
- We obey his word v.5 (Is his Word, the final word in your life?
John continued, “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him” (1 John 2:5. In this verse John expands on from Obeying God’s commands to obeying God’s Word and that when we obey God His love becomes full within us as the verse says “God’s love is truly made complete in Him. This testifies to the motives of our hearts when we love to do what he commands.
Three motives for obedience exist: We can obey because we have to; we can obey because we need to; or we can obey because we want to. A slave obeys because he has to. If he doesn’t obey he will be punished. An employee obeys because he needs to. He may not enjoy his work, but he enjoys getting his paycheck. He needs to obey because he has a family to feed and to clothe. But a believer obeys God’s word because he wants to – for the relationship between him and God is one of love. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
Apostle John is speaking to a church who was in need of healing. They have been severely hurt by people they considered to be the family of God. At one time or another I think we have all been hurt by family, friends, or brothers and sisters in Christ. Feelings of hatred, bitterness, and resentment. But, love and hate cannot continue to live in the heart of the believer. God calls us to reconciliation and forgiveness. He says “They will know you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another”.
This is something that we can all strive for. To love one another as Christ loves us. To forgive one another as God has forgiven us. What if we we’re known as a people who spoke the truth in love, where our fellowship was genuine, where there was no favoritism. What if we offered a radical hospitality that the world has never seen before and became a church that really did make the most of every opportunity to show love and the world knew us as what we we’re for instead of what we are against
Don’t Delay. Obey.