John starts his gospel by telling us that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Of all the ways Jesus could have entered into this world, it matters that Jesus became a human. His arrival tells us about his mission and purpose.
As John closes out his first letter, he wants to drive home just a few things. First, loving connection to Jesus Christ is the foundation that everything else rests on. Second, overflowing from that relationship, we are called to be a blessing to the world in a way that overcomes the challenges, struggles and burdens that life sends our way.
1 Corinthians 13 is often quoted at weddings and begins by simply saying love is….The second part of 1 John 4 has as much or more to say about what God means when we hear God is love, and that we are to love one another.
Chapter 4 of 1 John begins by looking at how to discern different perspectives and opinions. How do you discern various people and teachings based on scripture and based on who God is.
As we continue to look at what life together as Christians looks like, we lean into the posture of our hearts. What we say, how we say it, and what is behind our actions can be just as important as what we say and do. Jesus describes it by saying the words of our mouth is the overflow of our hearts. What is overflowing from your heart?
Jesus says that all who believe in Him are a new creation. 1 John 3 wades into what new that Jesus is talking about in our lives. 1 John invites us into a life long process of growing in our faith and in the likeness of our lives to Christ.
Somedays life is just hard. The believers hearing 1 John were given a reminder that their faith in Jesus is meant to be a foundation that they can lean on, trust in, and stand on no matter what life sends their way. That learning about Jesus and growing in their faith is wonderful and central, but not to fall into a trap of thinking that their faith rests in their head, but instead rests in the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives.
A central theme of 1 John is that faith and belief in Jesus must translate into actions, words, and more. It asks this question, “What is the life that Jesus would live if Jesus was living my life?”
1 John begins with the core focus that the more we know Jesus, the more we will reflect his grace and forgiveness to others. Our faith in Jesus will naturally draw us to become aware of our own flaws and his holiness and perfection. Considering God’s perfection, and our lack thereof, we move to a place of humility, grace, and love for others. The people of God should be known by humility, love, and grace.
Second Corinthians leans into what can be the stickiest of things for us to give, money. What if the theology behind giving of our finances is less about money, and more about our heart? That anything we give is a concrete expression of a heart seeking to be generous, in light of the giver who gave it all to us.
In Romans 10, the apostle Paul makes an impassioned case that the gospel is good news for all people, but they need to experience it. Paul makes the case that as Christ followers it is our responsibility for the good news that we have been given, that gives us hope that grounds our lives, must be shared, embodied and expressed to people not just within our Christian community.
One of the core ways and places that we are called to express our love to others is through hospitality, which means the love of the stranger. We are to open our homes and lives to others, such that they experience the love of Christ through us and where we live.
At church we are called a covenant community, a community who thrives when its people look out for the well-being of one another. Romans 12 paints a picture of what this life in community, driven by the love of Christ, looks like; selfless, humble, passionate, grounded in Christ, and seeking the good of others in the community through active service and engagement.
This might be a characteristic of the Spirit that we need the most to remind us about: freedom. We all have woundings, struggles, and addictions that we face, and scripture promises that the Spirit at work in us can provide a freedom that we are not able to find anywhere else.
Life can be challenging on some days, and feel like we are running on empty. 2 Corinthians promises that the Spirit helps us, and also renews and refreshes us in the midst of all that life sends our way.
Romans 15 gives a dynamic picture to remind us that the Spirit is not just a helper somewhere out there, but a powerful advocate, support, and strength for us and all that life sends at us.
Intercession is not the most common word for us all to use, but means the idea of going between or on behalf of. One image of the Spirit in scripture is that the Spirit prays on our behalf, intercedes to God on our behalf.
This Sunday we will look at how the “love of stranger” is not only a biblical principle but essential to our call to share the gospel. Oftentimes we can view the work of outreach as the job of people with the gift of evangelism. But evangelism isn’t necessarily a gift, it’s a calling for every Christian.