During this season of lockdown we have more time to re-evaluate our faith and our practices as a follower of Jesus.
Today I finish chapter 17 and ‘the church I see’ centred around the prayer of Jesus as he talked to the Father hours before his death.
John 17 v 23-26 “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. ‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Jesus prayed it because he wanted it. He still does.
I see a Church … that loves.
The love that demonstrates a sacrificial life. The gospel tells of the sacrifice of the Father to send the one He loves to people who are rejecting Him. It is also the sacrifice of the son to be sent. The Father sends and the son dies.
The church wants to live, God wants the church to die for the world. That’s the gospel.
Richard Wurmbrand was 14 years in a communist Romanian prison, he said, “A man really believes not what he recites in a creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” Come to Jesus and he will fix all your problems is not the gospel. The love from a sacrificial life is a cause, a purpose which needs devotion, focused and disciplined Christians.
The love that demonstrates our identity.
He is the Father of Adoption. Romans 8:15 “you received the Spirit of adoption.”
You have an enemy who is trying to get you to believe what he is saying to you. For what you believe you are is what you are and who you think you are is what you do. Why did sin happen? Adam didn’t know who he was and he tried to become someone he wasn’t. The accuser said “If you do this then you will be like God.” He should have said “stupid snake I am already like God. Why try and become what I already am?” But he didn’t and he became what God had not intended.
You are a child of God, belonging to Him, adopted to Him.
The love that demonstrates the Father’s passionate love. The story about the father and his lost son is an example of a Jewish custom called the Kezazah ceremony.
This ceremony was performed when a Jewish man absconded from the community and went and lived with the Gentiles. When he came back, he would go to the city gates and the older men would throw down a pot in front of the young man – symbolising the broken relationship that now existed between the community and this ‘sinner.’ This separated him from his family, his community, and his faith.
So in the story of the Prodigal Son why do you think the father ran to his returning lost son?
He ran to get there before the judging community. He embraced the sinner.
A Church that loves runs and embraces the offensive sinful people before the religious condemn them.
Identity offends like nothing else but the greatest offence is found in Gods people when they see their God stepping into these offensive identities with love and grace.
But when a Church has gone through a crisis, like a pandemic, when they have lost loved ones and felt incomparable grief, when they have been stripped back so that what remains is what has survived the refiner’s fire then that Church loves like at no other time in its history.
I see a Church that loves. You would think that is the prerequisite for a Church. We can all love people who we like or who are similar to us. Loving the unlovable is another thing completely! Post lockdown may we all emerge in the power of the love of God.