Receive (and love all), 25 December 2011

Big Idea: Jesus loves us, and we are to love others…everyone!

Kids are great because they know how to receive. There is no fear or pride or reservation in receiving. Jesus said

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17)

I love that!

Joy To The World/the LORD is come/let earth receive her King!

No gift is yours until you receive it.

Once we receive a gift, we must take good care of it. One of my favorite Bible verses says

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18)

This word “word” or “logos” in the original Greek often refers to Jesus.

Last week we saw this same word in the first chapter of John.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (John 1:14, The Message)

Jesus is a gift. We must receive the gift.

Two verses earlier, John says of Jesus

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)

When we receive Jesus, we become adopted into His family as children of God. It’s not because we earned it. It’s not because we’re good enough to earn His approval. Christmas is all about Jesus leaving heaven to come to earth, to be with us, Emmanuel, and ultimately to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

This is Christmas, that God created a beautiful planet, created us, loved us, and when we screwed up our lives through sin He sent Jesus to die for us and give us a second chance. A hope. A purpose. Love.

My challenge to you first and foremost is to receive Jesus. After you have received Jesus, the challenge is to receive and love all.

If there is one word that best describes God, it is love. He is the definition of love. He is the source of love.

Our mission—our purpose for existing—is one thing: love.

Jesus said the entire law of Moses can be summarized in four words...

Love God. Love Others.

That’s it.

But you can’t love until you’ve experienced love.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Because He has loved us and when we receive His love, we are then able to love Him and others.

Who are we to love?

Love all. Serve all.

That’s the slogan for Hard Rock Cafe. That should be our slogan! That should be what followers of Jesus—followers of love—should be all about.

Tragically, love is not a word that often describes us. In fact, recent studies indicate words like homophobic, judgmental, and hateful more accurately describe followers of the God of love.

This past week I had a meeting with two representatives from Scio Township and I told them that it’s my dream that if we ever closed our doors, the community would ask, “Where did those amazing, kind, generous, loving people go?” We exist to love God and others. I don’t want a restaurant out-loving the Church!

This Christmas, I invite you to spend time with the Author of love, receive His love, bask in His unconditional love for you...and then share it. Don’t hoard it. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Give to help dig a well in Africa.
Serve a neighbor in need.
Sponsor a child with Compassion International.
Help a co-worker.
Children, obey your parents.
Look people in the eye.

This Christmas season and into 2012, it’s my prayer that we would

Worship (more)
Rebel (and spend less)
Give (presents)
Receive (and love all)

For God so loved the entire world—everyone man, woman and child—that He gave Jesus. Let’s live for Him. Let’s live like Him. That’s radical!

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