Pastor Ed sang parts of popular songs from several decades introducing the weekend sermon’s focus. I think he should keep his day job (lol) which he does so well. Lest you think me harsh, back in college I was working on my guitar skills and my roommate said very clearly, “Bill, just play, don’t sing!” Another song featuring love was penned by Hal David and Burt Bacarach back in 1965 and first recorded by Jackie DeShannon. The catchy tune opined: “What the world needs now, is love sweet love, it’s the only thing there’s too little of . . . .” The song goes on to tell the Lord we don’t need more mountains, oceans, cornfields but love for everyone. I agree, we certainly do need love for everyone as it is so evident we are lacking in civility, respect, forbearance and loving kindness. But even as I state the obvious what is not so apparent to many is we need God even more.
Loving others without reservation, condition, or fear and loving generously, hilariously and graciously requires resources not found in human nature. Our basic humanness is self-directed at best and utterly selfish at worst. Sociology, psychology, anthropology or any other “ology” reveals humans try hard to self-generate a loving, outward focused nature within us. History, ancient and recent, shows us we can only generate such energy for tragically short lengths of time. A change in heart or put another way, something has to come into us to be anything other than self-centered. Much of what it means to love is outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. Think in terms of forgiving your enemy or treating others as you would want to be treated while turning the other cheek after an emotional blow to the gut. The difficulty is how to live this out. Oswald Chambers make it very clear this is impossible for us humans: “The Sermon on the Mount is not an ideal, it is a statement of what will happen inside me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own. Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.” If Jesus is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount, I can only do so if I have His nature in me overriding my self-directed one.
What the world needs now – what Bill needs now is more of Jesus in me and to flow out of me. I don’t need another mountaintop adventure, or a new experience in culinary delights, or an easy-going existence in the meadow of life, I need to unleash the nature and character that was placed in me by the Holy Spirit, made possible by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and orchestrated and ordained by Father God. How can we unleash this new nature? Abide in Me says, Jesus Christ.
A few suggestions on how we can abide. Be connected deeper to a local Christ-following body like GateWay. Join and participate in a Connect Small Group. Increase your gratitude for what God has done in your life by recounting those moments in personal worship and perhaps writing them down in a journal. Fill your mind with God’s Word and pour your heart into another. Begin and maintain a habit of daily personal devotional reading and study. Using our GateWay Devotional – The Word For You Today is a great place to start. Pray for others and with others for God’s touch in lives. Make it a weekly goal to share God’s goodness in your life with a co-worker, fellow student, sports team member, or neighbor. Read good Christian books and if you feel you are not a reader, get on Right Now Media and watch hundreds of great sermons, messages, and stories. Each and every one of us at GateWay can access this “Netflix” of Christian material without charge to you. Download the app and get the passcode from the church office and you are in.
Abide in Me if you want to love like The Rock(star) Jesus. This is an intentional act and you must make the choice. No one can do this for you but it is more encouraging when we do this together. Find a friend and take the first step. Don’t have a friend then consider joining a Connect Small Group.