Love and Serve One Another
Love and Serve One Another
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday, 23rd February 2020
Last Sunday’s message put out a challenge to me and I know it did for some of you also. We need to continue to wrestle with what means for the church to do righteousness and justice. When you read the Word of God, you soon realise that He loves righteousness and justice! Not just talking about it – but doing it!
I used the scripture that Martin Luther King quoted more than any other:
Amos 5:24 New King James Version (NKJV)
“24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Martin Luther King of course faced up against some of the most serious and deeply embedded cultural injustice and prejudice in America… an injustice that has been represented in every other nation of the world as well.
To do justice means to make something that is wrong – right! For us as Christians, it’s carrying the love and power of Jesus Christ into those places in our community and our world, where there is injustice, unfairness, poverty, brokenness… identifying those opportunities for us to actually do something to help make things right.
Seacoast Church does it through varies missions activities. We partner with a number of passionate people who are making a huge difference in people’s lives.
Thankyou to those who wanted to know more about Orange Sky, the organisation that takes vans with washing machines and showers in them, to those who are homeless or don’t have access to those facilities.
I have a link to information on where these vans will be operating in Ballina. There’s a registration section on their website for those who would like to be part of that work here.
I used Orange Sky as just one current example of how we could be part of doing justice in our local community.
So I wanted to remind you of all that because last week was very much about reaching outside the four walls of the church. We do reach people inside the church building too. Mainly Music is a massive pool of families – many unchurched and unsaved – and we get to connect with them right here in this building every Friday morning. Including kids, parents, and grandparents, there can be 70-80 people here.
The little ones get to sing songs about God – we give them books at Christmas and Easter about Jesus…. And these are powerful seeds being planted. There have been many opportunities to speak into the lives of the mums and dads over the years – and to pray for them.
But I want to shift the focus back again this morning to us – the church. Because it’s pretty obvious from scripture that God also has a plan to build something amazing and glorious in and through the body of believers.
The scripture I finished up with last week was:
Galatians 6:10 New King James Version (NKJV)
“10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
We are the household of faith. This is God’s house. Well, more precisely, you are God’s house – because He doesn’t dwell in a building as such – He dwells in people’s hearts – your hearts.
I want to show you a number of scriptures this morning that carry this theme – that it’s not all about focussing our love and attention outside this house… but in fact, it’s especially important that we ourselves get it right within – that we do justice – and we align our hearts firstly with those who are of the household of faith.
In the earlier chapter of Galatians it says:
Galatians 5:13 New King James Version (NKJV)
“13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Paul is talking to the brethren… the believers… And he is admonishing them to love and serve each other. And I think it’s significant that he said – do it from your place of freedom. It’s not about duty or law or obligation…. It’s from a place of freely choosing to give ourselves as a gift to the lives of those who are the brethren.
We have some beautiful expressions of people in this church loving and serving one another. I wouldn’t dare mention names because there are too many and I’m sure I don’t see or hear about all of the many different ways that happens.
This is a strength of our church. It’s love and a servant heart that binds this place together.
But as I read the Word about who we are called to be as the church of Jesus Christ, I realise that this love for one another is meant to be so glorious that it actually shines out into the community around us. And it’s not just for some to be actively engaged in – it’s for everyone to find their place!
John 13:34-35 New King James Version (NKJV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
You know, we often speak about inside the walls of the church verses outside the walls of the church. But what if we imagined there were no walls? What if we imagined there was no us and them?
What if we simply saw ourselves as a big family that just loves getting together to love God together – to worship Jesus – to love one another – to serve one another with all our different gifts… And we would have a vision of being a church that is an incredible witness to our salvation in Jesus – such a witness that our friends and family and neighbours and all the different people we run into throughout the week – they see something – they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears – that we are disciples of Jesus. Imagine being so free – being such a vibrant church – that we couldn’t help but make Jesus known in our community and our world.
And so instead of it being inside and outside – our worship and love for one another begins to flow like water – like a mighty stream – like a river all throughout the places where we live. No walls – no barriers – no judgements.
I hope I’m painting a picture you can see this morning, because I have a vision of it myself – I just hope the words I’m using communicate what I’m seeing and feeling.
Surely if we are filled with the love of God – and we are living within the family of God – the church – and being loved and cared for – where we have a place to serve and be part of the building up of one another – surely then we couldn’t help but be known and be seen by all people – that we truly are disciples of Jesus.
I also don’t want us to hurry past this John 13 scripture about a new commandment to love on another – because the context in which Jesus said this to His disciples is really significant.
By the way – this new commandment is actually an old commandment expressed in a new way. From way back in one of the earlier books of the Old Testament – in Leviticus – we’re commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves.
But now it’s fresh and new because it’s an expression of how Jesus has loved us – and how He loves His church. Jesus makes it new because we no longer have love chiseled in law on stone – we have it in the Person of Jesus – and it’s written on our hearts.
So in John 13, the disciples are all together, in the Upper Room, celebrating the feast of the Passover. They had shared this meal together and Jesus was about to unfold to the disciples what this new church would look like. And the basis of this new sense of being together is demonstrated in probably the greatest act of humility, grace and love that they had ever witnessed to that point.
It says in: John 13:4-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
“4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”
Even before going through His suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus shows His disciples the attitude – the heart position – in which the church is to be birthed.
And get this. Jesus washed all of the twelve disciples filthy feet. And they would have been filthy. No wonder He took off His outer garments to do it.
But that also means He washed the feet of Judas – His betrayer. It says that Judas already had it in his heart to betray Jesus. He was already planning it out. And Jesus knew it.
We think we understand the gospel. But we see all things through a glass dimly. There are always depths of revelation to discover.
We are so washed in our 21st century culture. We are so influenced by a world that is focussed on self – and so often – self righteousness. We all have to fight off attitudes, opinions and judgements that don’t fit with the kingdom of God.
And yet Jesus is showing us here that His life – His example of what love and servanthood is really all about – it’s all upside down to anything our natural minds can comprehend.
We are getting a glimpse here of what glory is all about – of what the heart of God is toward every man, woman and child that has ever lived on this earth.
Jesus – the Son of God – the Sovereign King – washes their feet.
If you remember the story – Peter rises up and says, there’s no way you’re going to wash my feet. In fact he says – You will never wash my feet. But Jesus says to him, if you don’t allow Me to wash your feet, then you have no part with Me.
It’s so important that we get this. We don’t know exactly what was going on in Peter’s mind, but it ultimately was a refusal to allow Jesus to wash him. Whether he felt unworthy… whether it was pride or indignation… but whatever it was, it was going to cause a break in their fellowship and relationship if Peter continued to refuse.
When Peter really hears what Jesus is saying, he says – not just my feet, but my hands, my head… everything.
Theologians believe this washing of the feet was symbolic of Christ’s invitation for us all to be washed in His Blood, especially as this was just before He was taken to the cross.
And all of us need to humble ourselves and receive this most precious gift. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.
In fellowship with Him – and in fellowship with one another – there’s always going to be a laying down of self.
John 13:12-15 New King James Version (NKJV)
“12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
Washing one another’s feet is symbolic of how we are meant to humble ourselves before one another – how we are to love and serve one another.
It’s not about one person being better than another – or one having a greater standing than another. No one is beyond washing another’s feet. No one is beyond having their feet washed. No one is exempt.
Feet washing – or at least the heart attitude behind it – is what the church is to be founded on. Well it’s actually founded on Jesus Christ, but He is the very example I’m talking about. And He said: “…you should do as I have done to you.”
Listen to these other couple of verses from John:
1 John 4:7 New King James Version (NKJV)
“7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 3:14 The Passion Translation (TPT)
“14 Yet we can be assured that we have been translated from spiritual death into spiritual life because we love the family of believers. A loveless life remains spiritually dead.”
This new spiritual life that we have means we love one another with a greater love than ours. We love with the love of God.
So there are no excuses. We have what it takes to love all. The greatest and the least. The weakest and the strongest. The young and the old. The disabled, the lonely, the rich, the poor… God’s love is just! He loves righteousness and justice. He does not discriminate! His love flows like a living stream. If there are any blockages, then they are to do with us – and we need to deal with them.
We have no choice but to lay down our judgements – to let go of our ungodly attitudes.
What about unforgiveness? I know we probably think we’re all good with that – but are we?
Now is a good time to check your own heart. Am I holding unforgiveness towards any one of the brethren? Am I holding offence because someone has hurt me, let me down, taken advantage of me, betrayed me…?
Remember what Jesus did? He washed the feet of Judas knowing that Judas was about to turn Him in to the religious leaders and the Roman soldiers…
All for a bag of money!
Right now – in this moment – I strongly suggest that if you are holding anything against a brother or sister in the faith, that you let it go. And it’s not me suggesting that… It comes from the Word of God.
Unforgiveness holds us bound. Forgiveness sets us free. We are called to freedom – not bondage – not bondage to anything.
1 Peter 1:22 New King James Version (NKJV)
“22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,”
Purity of heart has no hidden motives – no mixed agendas. Purity of heart is just that – pure and untainted – its genuine and sincere. When you ask someone in church – how are you? – you mean it. You want to know. You care.
When someone seems alone or struggling – you genuinely want to support them and encourage them. There might be nothing in it for you – except to know that the love of God is flowing like a river through your life.
Actually – the more you love others – the more you serve others and give of yourself sacrificially, the more blessed you are – the more filled you are – the more He gives of Himself to you.
Be proactive in it. God is always pursuing us. He is always looking for ways to express His love to us. He is our example.
My last bit of scripture as I close – and it’s a good one:
Colossians 3:12-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
Character of the New Man
“12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
You couldn’t get a better summary than that.
Whoever you are – in Christ you have the ability to “put on” mercy, kindness, humility, long-suffering, love, thanksgiving…. Everything you need to love one another with a pure heart – because it’s God’s heart.
And when it says “put on”, it doesn’t mean fake it til you make it. It means put it on like you put on an overcoat, and never take it off. Other versions say, robe yourself… That robe becomes a part of who you are. It becomes part of your identity as a son or daughter of God.
Start to walk in it. Start doing some foot-washing. Not literally – but loving others with the same unconditional servant heart that Jesus had towards His disciples in the upper room.
I have this vision of Seacoast Church burning with the love and the fire of God so brightly, that the people of Ballina are going to know without any doubt that we are disciples of Jesus. What a witness. What a testimony.
No walls… Just rivers and streams…