Craig Smith - Love Squared
Hey, welcome to Mission Hills, including those of you joining us on Church Online. So glad you are with us today. Let me just tell you right up front, we have a lot of ground to cover. I thought really seriously about breaking this message into two separate messages, but I didn’t feel I could honor God’s Word properly by dividing it artificially, so we have a fair amount of ground to cover. I’m going to talk really fast. I’m telling you right now, it’s your job to keep up. You have been warned. The good news is, that all of the ground we are going to cover leads to one very clear truth, and it’s one really powerful truth I believe God is going to use significantly in your life.
Why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible, make your way to the Gospel of John 14. Let me give you a quick reminder that this entire section of the Gospel of John is Jesus’ goodbye speech. The reason he gave it is because he had this group of followers who were so excited about who he was. They were so excited about everything God was about to do. They had this really clear picture about everything he was about to accomplish, and then right in the midst of that, at the pinnacle of their excitement, Jesus kind of dropped this bomb. He said, I’m going away, and their world really sort of began to fall apart, and what Jesus is doing in this speech for them and us, he’s telling us what to know and do so we know what to do when everything around us falls apart. One of the things he’s going to try to make very clear in this message today is that what we see is the end of something great is often the beginning of something greater.
What we see as the end of something great is often the beginning of something greater — if, and this is a real big if. There is a lot of weight on those two letters, if, we can leave it in his hands. But the problem is that’s not our temptation, right? Our tendency is not to leave it in his hands. Our temptation is, when things are going especially well or we are on the verge of something, or we are excited about where God is taking us, if it looks like it’s changing, if it looks like it’s coming to an end, our temptations go, well, thanks for getting me this far, God, but I’ll take it from here. I’m not going to trust this in your hands because you don’t seem to be managing it right. You’re not doing it right because I don’t like where you are taking it, so we have a tendency to want to take it back.
Even if we don’t have that tendency, the question of how do I leave it in God’s hands, how do I move forward through whatever difficulty I’m facing, how do I do that in the way that he calls me to? And Jesus begins this part of the message, John 14:15 with a really clear teaching on how we leave it in his hands so what we call something great isn’t coming to an end, it’s actually the beginning of something greater. He says this, verse 15. He says, if you love me, keep my commands. That’s what you have to do. If you love me, keep my command. Now, you have to understand that, that was a shocking thing for Jesus to say. It’s really easy for us to miss how shocking it was, but the reason it was shocking is because that’s not the first time the disciples of Jesus had heard those words.
They had heard those words all the way back in the book of Exodus 20 when God the Father spoke to the Israelites and he said this, Exodus 26, he said he was the kind of God that would be known for showing love to a thousand generations of those that love me and keep my commands. Sound familiar? It’s almost word for word what Jesus says in John 14. He says if you love me, keep my commands. Notice, he didn’t say, if you love God, keep his commands, because God said that. He says if you love — who? Me, keep whose commands? My commands. You understand in modern terms what he’s just done, he retweeted a God quote as his own, right?
That’s not okay. I — there was a — I used to kind of make a living as an itinerant speaker, and I was working this one conference once, and I told the story of this weird rollercoaster ride that I had gone on and I related the spiritual truth. I built up all those emotions and tried to draw the kids in. Then I didn’t go to that conference for a couple of years, and like three years later, I came back, and one of the conference organizers said, yeah, it was the weirdest thing. Last year we had a different speaker, and he told your story. Like word for word, and apparently what had happened, it got captured and put on YouTube. This guy like saw it. Like, that’s a great story. I’m just going to tell it like it’s my own. I’m like, dude, that’s not okay. That is so not okay. But Jesus is basically done that right here.
He’s like, oh, those are good words that God had. I’ll just take them and make them my own, right? That’s why this was shocking, but you need to understand is that Jesus has already told the disciples, I and the Father are one. God and I, we are one. We are the same. The Father and the Son, we are one. What he’s trying to help them understand now is this interesting thing. He’s basically trying to say, it’s actually hard to tell where the Father ends and Jesus begins. Does that make sense? It’s hard to tell where the Father sort of stops and Jesus starts. Not only are they one like we are unified in purpose, and we have the same agenda, but, no, no, no. There’s some kind of sense in which it’s actually hard to make a clear distinction. It’s hard to tell where the Father ends and Jesus begins.
So he’s kind of making that point, and we are going to put a pin in that idea because he’s going to come back to a very similar idea over and over again in this message. But then the next question we want to ask, of course, he says if you love me, keep my commands, and then of course the question we want to ask is, which ones? Because you know, especially if he and the Father are so close, then his commands are the Father’s commands, and the Father gave a lot of commands. Like, in fact the Jewish people in the first century, they had gotten together, combed through the Scripture and decided there were basically 613 commands in the Old Testament, and they ran the gamut. They ran from do not murder. We all good? If you are not, talk to me afterwards. They had that, then they had stuff like, don’t weave cloth from two types of fabric. How many of you today are going 100% cotton today? Like toe to top? I’m not seeing a lot of hands. That means you are all sinners. You have all broken one of the commands of God.
Of course you are going, wait a minute. I didn’t think we had to do those. I thought the New Testament said we are not under the Law. Well, yeah. That’s true. We are not under the Law, but Scripture also says in the New Testament all Scripture is God breathed. It’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training up. If we don’t have to follow all of those commands, then why does Jesus say, if you love me, keep my commandments. Which commands is he talking about? Is it all 613? I don’t think so. And the reason I don’t think it’s all 613 commands is actually a conversation I want to take you to in Matthew 22. Jesus is talking to an expert in the commands. He’s talking to an expert in all of these laws.
Matthew 22:35 says one of them, an expert in the Law of the commands tested Jesus with this question. He said, Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? What’s the big one? Like if you only had one, what’s the most important one, and Jesus replied, love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. Love God with all that you are. That’s the greatest command. He said this is the first and greatest commandment.
Now understand that what Jesus said there was not shocking. Jesus said a lot of shocking things. This is was not one of them because it was pretty widely agreed in the first century that, that was the greatest command. He wasn’t saying anything that was radically new at that point. He said the greatest command is to love God with all you are. The teachers around him would have said, good answer. You nailed it. That’s great. Then, Jesus continued. He didn’t stop. I don’t know about you, but what’s the problem I have with Jesus. He just never seems to know when to leave well enough alone in my life, right? He gets me to this point and I’m like okay, this is good. I get it. Then, I’m like, oh, really? You are going to push into my finances? You are going to push into the way I’m talking to my wife? Can’t we just work on that thing back there? He just keeps moving on.
So he says, and the second one, he said, is like it. I don’t know how shocking that was, but I suspect at that point they were like, wait, the second one? Like there are 613 one of them, dude. You are going to rank them all? We are going to be here for a while, right? Jesus said, no, no, no. It’s only the second one I’m interested in. The second one is like it. It’s love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Law and the Prophets, that’s a way of describing all of the Old Testament, all of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. He says two, love God. Love others.
And I’m pretty confident that when Jesus says, if you love me keep my commands, he’s saying, these are the two commands that you need to be paying attention to. If you love me, you will love God, and you will love what? You will love other. Love God and love others. All of the other commands, here’s the way I think of all of the other commands, I think, all of the other commands in the Bible shapes our love, do you hear me? All of the other commands in the Bible shape our love. It helps us understand what it looks like when we are loving God. It helps us understand what it looks like when we are loving others. It directs us. It points us in the right direction.
But there are only two commands he’s really interested in. Love God. Love others. On some level, that feels like good news, doesn’t it? Until you realize that these two commands are ridiculously hard to keep. Here’s the thing. I was a pole vaulter in high school. I was a decent pole vaulter. I was jumping at about 13 feet. And then the Summer Olympics happened, and there was a Russian pole vaulter who jumped over 21 feet, so one day I went out to the pole vault pit, and I put the standards up at 21 feet, and I just stood there, and I was like — that’s never going to happen. Like that was so ridiculously far up there, it’s like that’s never — and Jesus is kind of doing that. He says just two commandments. Love God and love others, and what he did was radically reduced the number of commandments that we are sort of beholding to, but he really raised the bar of the standard that we are responsible for, didn’t he?
At that point you are like almost like, can we go back to the 613? Like a whole bunch of those, I can check off. Like one of them says, do not boil a baby goat in its own mother’s milk. Right? Like, anybody? You are like, I’m good at that one. That never occurred — I don’t know why we would — right? There’s almost an attraction at that point to go, hey, can we go back to the list? I can check off most of those, but this standard you have given me, it’s insane, Jesus. All I have to do is love God and love others. I have to honor God and — oh. I don’t think I can get over that bar, Jesus.
So Jesus says, verse 16, he says don’t worry about it. He says, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to be help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth. He says he’s going to give us another advocate. Now, the word advocate basically means somebody who does for you what you can’t do for yourself, okay? Hopefully, this is not true for you, but maybe it might be true for a few of you, or maybe you have heard it on T.V., if you find yourself in the legal system, which is a very complicated system, they’ll say something like this. You have the right to have an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be — will be provided to you. You need somebody to help you navigate that really complex system. You need somebody to help you do what you cannot do for yourself, so Jesus says, the Father will send you another advocate.
Why does he say “another?” Well, because he’s the first advocate. He’s the first one that does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Jesus, he went to the cross. He paid the penalty in his own blood for our sin. He offered us complete forgiveness and new life that if we just trust in him, we can have a relationship with God that begins now and goes on forever. We couldn’t do that. We could never be good enough. We have all sinned. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. So Jesus died in our place. He did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He says, I’m not the only advocate. There is another advocate, the Spirit of Truth, or the Holy Spirit. What he says is, the Father is going to send the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The Holy Spirit will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That standard that went up there? Like there’s no way I’m going to get over that by myself. He says, don’t worry about it. All you need to do is set your sails in the right direction. Love God and love others, and the Holy Spirit is going to come along and move you to where you could never get on your own, get you over the standard, get you to that place you could never be on your own. He says this, he says the world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. This Holy Spirit, and the power of it, he says it’s not for the world. He’s only for the followers of Jesus, but you know him for he lives with him and will be in you. He says, you know him for he lives with him and will be in you. Here’s an interesting thing, technically, that’s wrong. Historically, that’s wrong. Theologians have battled over what Jesus is doing here because here’s the thing.
In the Old Testament, we certainly see the Holy Spirit, but in that era of history, the Holy Spirit didn’t live in people. He would come upon them. He would give the gifts, but he would move around. He wasn’t a permanent part of their lives, and when Jesus is speaking, that’s still true. The Holy Spirit is not a permanent part of them. The Holy Spirit doesn’t live in them. That doesn’t happen until something we call Pentecost. Jesus died. Three days later, He rose from the dead. 40 days later, there is a big festival called Pentecost, you can read about it in the Book of Acts. And at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus, took up residence in them, began to transform them from the inside out and lived with them permanently, but that happened at Pentecost.
Jesus says here, you are going to recognize him because he lives with you. Theologians have been like, what is Jesus talking about, because it doesn’t seem to happen for quite a while still, so what does he mean you are going to recognize him because he lives with you? And this — this is subtle, but it’s really powerful, and it’s really important that we understand kind of what he’s getting at. The Spirit doesn’t live with them yet, but who is living with them? It’s Jesus. Here’s what’s going on. He’s already said, it’s actually kind of hard to tell where the Father ends and the Son begins. In the same way, it’s actually hard to tell where the Son ends and Holy Spirit begins, so no, the Holy Spirit doesn’t live in you yet, but I’m right there with you. We are so close, the lines are so blurry between us that the reality is that it’s hard to tell where Jesus ends and the Holy Spirit begins, so you are going to recognize him because he’s basically me. Basically me.
He says, I will not leave you as orphans. You think I would abandoned you? You think I would call you to something that you don’t have the ability to do or that I don’t give you what you need to have the ability to do in no, he says, I will come to you. Theologians go, what does he mean? Is he talking about the resurrection? He’s coming back from the grave? Is he talking about the second coming, or the arrival of the Holy Spirit, and the answer is — yeah. Yeah, but — he’s probably first and foremost talking about the Holy Spirit. He says the Holy Spirit will come to you which means I am coming to you, because it’s hard to tell where the Father leaves off and the Son begins. It’s hard to tell where the Son leaves off and the Spirit begins. He says, I’ll come to you in this Holy Spirit.
Verse 19 he says, before long the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. I’ll still be with you. Because I live, you also will live. The Holy Spirit will actually begin to awaken you to the life. Remember he said, I am the way, the truth and the life. I am the only way, the only truth that gets you to the only life worth living. He says the Holy Spirit will continue, though, because it’s awakening you to this life that God always intended you to have. Because I live, you will live. He says on that day, you will realize that I am in the Father, and you are in me. I am in you. Wait a minute.
That day you will realize I am in my Father and you are in me. Wait a minute. You are in me and I am in you — like, what? Here’s what he’s doing. This is so powerful. He says it’s actually hard to tell where the Father leaves off and the Son begins. It’s hard to tell where the Son leaves off and the Spirit begins. When the Holy Spirit comes to you, it’s going to get hard to tell where you end and I begin, where I end and you begin because that’s what the Holy Spirit is going to do in you. Because of the Holy Spirit working in us, it’s going to be hard to tell where Jesus ends and we begin and where we begin and Jesus ends and — the lines get blurry. The lines get blurry.
Just think about that for a second. I think this is so powerful. The earliest followers of Jesus after the Resurrection, after Pentecost, they had a name for themselves. They called themselves “The Way.” Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, so that’s us. We are on the way. The Romans came up with a new name for them. The Romans looked at the followers of Jesus, and they were like, you guys are adorable. Like it’s so cute how you are trying to be Jesus, how you are trying to continue his ministry. How you are trying to be on mission with him and continue the work. Almost like — it’s almost like you are little versions of him. That’s so cute. They came up with a really insulting thing to call them. You know what they called them? They called them Christians, which is Latin basically means,” little Christs.” It was a derogatory term. It was an insulting term. They are like, gosh, you guys are crazy.
Just pretending to be little Jesus’ running around. The Christians went, that — that’s actually really good. That’s exactly what we are. That’s exactly what we are about. They took the derogatory term and said that’s what we are going to be known as from here on out. We are little Christs because that’s what Jesus was saying. It’s hard to tell where the Father ends and the Son begins. It’s hard to tell where the Son ends and the Spirit begins, and because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, it’s hard to tell where we end and Jesus begins or where Jesus ends and we — it’s all kind of packaged together.
He says, verse 21, whoever has my commands — which commands? Love God and love others. Whoever has my commands and keeps them, that’s the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love them, and I’ll show myself to them. I love this, verse 22. And then Judas — and John says, not Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot, that’s the one who betrayed Jesus. Judas is a pretty common name, and so he wants to make sure we are not confused. He says, not that guy. Just get that out of your minds. And Judas said, but Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not the world? It’s a really interesting question. It’s a perfectly natural question. Jesus says, I’m going away. I’m going to send the Holy Spirit to you. I’m going to come to you in the Holy Spirit, the Father’s going to love you. I’m going to love you. We are all going to be together, and I’m going to show myself to you through the Holy Spirit.
Judas goes, I’m confused. Why are you going to yourself to us but not to the rest of the world. This need to know who you are too. They need to know what you are all about. Why are you going to show yourself to us and not the world? I picture it — I picture Jesus going, [sigh] really? All right, let me try again. So Jesus replied, okay, I think he probably talked really slow. Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. You know, that I and the Father are one, I and the Spirit are one, and because the Spirit is in you, you and I are kind of one and my commandments set yourselves to loving God and loving others. Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching, and my Father will love them — I have already said this, guys. And I have already said this, but let me say it again, and we will come to them and make our home with them, okay?
God, right? Father, Son, Spirit, the Trinity. I know it’s confusing, but don’t try to tease it all out. The Son is this and the Father — trying to get it all in nice little buckets. No, no, no. You are missing the point. See, it’s hard to tell where the Father leaves off and the Son begins. It’s hard to tell where the Son leaves off and the Spirit begins. It’s hard to tell where the Spirit leaves off and the Son leaves off and the Father leaves off and where you begin because you understand, it’s one. He says, we will come and make our home with them. He says, verse 24, anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. They are not going to be one with me. They are not going to be setting their sails toward loving God and loving others, but guys, do you get it? He says, these words you hear are not my own. They belong to the Father who sent me, right?
We are one. These words are not my own. That greatest commandment business, that wasn’t my own. God said that. That second commandment love your neighbor as yourself, God said that too back in Leviticus. My Father said it, but I kind of said it too and the Spirit —
Do you get it? We are one. You understand that what happens is, we are going to come live in you. Because of your faith in what I have done on the cross — they don’t know about it yet, but it’s about to happen, because of your faith in what I’m making possible, the whole power of God is going to come into you and start transforming you to make a home in your heart. Do you get it, Judas? You want to know why I’m not going to show myself to the world? Did I say I’m not going to show myself to the world? No, I’m going to show myself to the world — through you. Through you. That’s what he’s saying. Jesus is going to show himself to the world — through us. The work of Jesus doesn’t come to an end. The work of Jesus continues. The ministry of Jesus continues. The mission of Jesus continues through all of his little Christs. All of his people being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit so they can do the work that Jesus began.
Jesus is going to show himself to the world. Judas is like, why aren’t you going to show yourself to the world? Jesus is like — I am. Dude, I am. Through you. That’s the plan. That’s been the plan all along. Verse 25, he says, all of this I have spoken while I was still with you. But the advocate, the one who will do for you what you can’t do, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name that means as my representative, continuing my work. He will teach you all things, and he will remind you of everything I have said to you. I know you are freaking out because you are thinking Jesus, if you go away, I don’t know how to continue your work because I don’t remember everything you said. There are situations you haven’t covered yet. I don’t know what it looks like to love God in this way in this circumstance. I don’t know what it looks like to love others because people are difficult, right? Like that’s the big problem with loving others, isn’t it? They are difficult, and they keep coming up with new ways to be difficult.
And you are like, God, I don’t know — when my kids suddenly decide to do this, I don’t know what it looks like to love them. You didn’t cover it. I have been through it. You did not cover anything about Snapchat. It is nowhere in here. I don’t know —
He says, don’t worry about it. I got this. The Holy Spirit in you will teach you what you need to know what it looks like about loving God and loving others when you find yourself in those circumstances. He will remind you of things. He was talking to a pastor friend of mine recently. He said, I had this weird experience last week. I was praying for this woman. All of a sudden I thought of this Scripture, and I quoted that, and it was really what she needed to hear and it was really powerful. And he said then afterwards, he was like, I did not know I knew that Scripture. He said, I know it’s a Scripture, but I don’t know where it is, even. He actually had to go look it up. Pastors do that, actually. We do that. He looked it up and it was like in Samuel. Isn’t that interesting?
I didn’t even know I knew that, but that’s what the Holy Spirit does. I have had that experience on occasions, maybe some of you have as well. He brings out those things that you need to know that he’s taught you when you need to know them. Sometimes he teaches you new things. He’s like this is what it’s going to look like to honor God with your life. This is what it’s going to look like to love others in circumstances that I didn’t cover yet but it’s okay. I got you covered. I didn’t cover that issue, but I got you covered, because I’m going to give you my Holy Spirit, and he will take care of you and give you what you need. He says, you understand, I’m trying to give you some peace. Verse 27 he says, peace I leave with you.
The Holy Spirit is peace. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I don’t give to you as the world gives. This is really important. See, in Rome, there was something called the Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. They were very proud of it. The Roman Empire was very proud of the Peace of Rome. They were bragging on it all the time. They would tell people, do you guys know how lucky you are that we conquered you? You are so fortunate that we conquered you because now you have peace. The strength of the Roman Empire, we have managed to keep all of those invading armies out. You don’t need to be worry about being invaded by another one because you have been conquered by the most powerful army. You don’t have to worry about all of the other ones. No, no, no. Maybe you don’t have mercy and justice and sovereignty and all of those things, but you have the absence of conflict. That’s what peace is all about, right? It’s the absence of conflict.
Jesus says, that’s not my peace. That’s not what I’m talking about. Jesus says, I don’t give you peace the way Rome does. I don’t give you peace the way the world does. I don’t give you this fake false peace that says, oh, you are at peace, aren’t you so lucky because you managed to avoid conflict? Jesus says, no, I’m sorry. That’s not the way it works. A little bit later he’s going to say, in this life you will have trouble. You will have conflict. There’s going to be hard things. Difficult things are inevitable, but despair is optional. Because he says, my peace is not like the world’s peace. It’s not the absence of conflict. What he says is, Jesus’ peace isn’t the absence of conflict, it’s the ability to face that conflict with confidence, to know that you will be okay. To know that what you see is the end of something great is actually the beginning of something greater if you can leave it in his hands. If you set your sails towards loving him by honoring him and by loving others, you are going to sail through that. You are going to get through it.
It might be really hard. It might be very painful, but there’s always light at the end of that tunnel — always. I don’t give you peace the way the world does because it’s not really peace. They say you have peace if you managed to avoid conflict. That’s not true. Peace is the ability to face conflict with confidence. That’s — that’s what I’m offering you, he says. He says, do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid. Conflict is coming, but you can face it with confidence. You heard me say, I’m going away, and I’m coming back to you. You heard me say it, guys. If you loved me, you would be glad that I was going to the Father for the Father is greater than I. That might seem like a strange line because he’s kind of hammering, the oneness, right? It’s hard to tell where the Father ends and the Son begins where the Son ends and the Spirit begins, where the Son ends and we begin because of the work of the Spirit. There’s all this oneness, so for him suddenly to say the Father is greater than I might seem a little surprising, but what we need to understand is this.
He’s not talking about a greatness of essence. He’s not saying that God the Father has more knowledge or more power or anything like that. He’s saying something that we find described throughout Scripture that even though the Father, Son and Spirit are equal in their essence, they have chosen from eternity pass to operate in a particular way where the Son submits to the Father. He trusts in the Father, and the Spirit submits to the Son and to the Father, trusts in the Spirit and the Father, and in technical terms, to throw a bone for you, those that like this, we call this ontological quality with a functional subordination. Amen? Yeah. Sometimes you have to justify the fact that I went to seminary, and I paid a lot of money for it. What it means is — what it means is the Father, Son and Spirit are equal in their essence, but they have chosen to act in a particular way.
They have chosen to subordinate themselves to submit in terms of the Son submitting to the Father and the Spirit to the Father and the Son. Not because he’s better, but he’s the one in authority. So what Jesus is going here. This is very important. Jesus is modeling for us the trust that he’s asking from us. He’s modeling for us the trust that he’s asking from us. See, Jesus — not long after this, he sat in the garden and had a conversation with his Father where he said, Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from me. Like, what I’m going into is conflict with a capital “C.”
He knew what it was going to cost him to set us free. He knew about the beatings and the scourgings and he knew about the mockings and the spitting. He knew about the nails and the cross and the spear and the pain. He said, I don’t want to do that. Is there another way to pull this off? Father, if it’s possible, can we do this different way? Let this cup pass from me? But then he said the all-important thing, but not thy will but thine be done. He submitted. He chose to trust his Father even when it felt like everything was falling apart. He chose to trust. Now he’s saying I have to submit to my Father. He’s modeling for us the trust that he’s asking from us. He’s saying, would you trust me?
He says, I have told you, verse 29, I have told you now before it happens so when it does happen, you will believe. He says, I will not say much more to you. For the prince of this world — a euphemism for Satan — the prince of this world is coming. Conflict is coming, but I face it with confidence. He has no hold over me. The conflict that I face in this life has no bearing on my relationship with God. It has no bearing on the power of God at work in me. It has no bearing on what is going to end up on the other side of this conflict. He has no hold over me, but he comes — listen to this. He comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father, that I trust him, and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. He says, what you see as the end of something great is actually just the beginning of something greater.
Then he says — these are so powerful — five really powerful words, he says, come now, let us leave. And historically, at that moment, he appears to have gotten up and he moved forward. He moved toward conflict. He moved toward the cross. He went from a place kind of peace. They are likely in the garden right now. They are having an intimate moment, this conversation, and he gets up and says, I can’t stay here. Come now, let us depart. Let’s leave. Let’s move forward. He moves forward toward conflict, but he moves forward toward conflict with what? With confidence. He knows who he faces that conflict with. And these are powerful words. They are not just historically true words. I think there is a challenge in them. There’s a challenge in them for me. Because I can get stuck. I can get stuck so easy.
Sometimes I can get stuck because things seem to be falling apart. It’s not working out. I’m not making the progress I thought here and here and here, maybe our family and leadership or whatever. It’s like, I don’t know what to do. Jesus is like, come now, let us depart. Just move forward. Just trust me. Just take the next step. Set your sails toward loving God and loving others. Let’s move forward. Sometimes I can get stuck when things are good. Maybe that’s more you. You are looking around, and you are like, I like my life. I love the way my family is. I love the way everything is. That can become terrifying, because you are like I don’t want to mess it up, right? I don’t want to move forward. I don’t want to introduce anything new in my life. I don’t want to take any steps of faith. I don’t want to move because I might mess it up. He says, come now. Let us depart.
Yeah, I might lead you into conflict, but I will lead you through it to better things on the other side of it. Come now, let us depart. I wonder what those words mean in your life right now? What is he calling you to trust him with, to come now, and let’s move forward. He says, here’s how you do it. He started off the whole thing with the very simple instruction, here’s how you do it, just set your sails toward loving God and loving others. That’s what you do. That’s how you point your direction. Set your sails toward loving God and loving others, and he will take care of the rest.
I was on vacation a couple of years ago with Coletta. We were at the beach, and she wanted to take out one of those little sail things? A Hobie Cat they called it. I didn’t like it. I prefer a kayak — like, I’m in control. I didn’t like the Hobie Cat because I was like, I can’t even make this thing move. I had the rutter. I was like maybe I can make it move it really fast back and forth and it will generate — that’s not happening. The frustrating thing, I could feel this wind blowing, but I didn’t know how to catch it, and it took a long time to sort of figure it out. There was this moment where we had the sail set in the right direction. We had the rope in the right place. We got it in the right direction and all of a sudden the wind grabbed this thing and it leaped forward. It was actually terrifying. Like, how do we stop? Are we head today the Bahamas now, like what’s going to happen?
But that moment when the wind grabbed it and we began to leap forward through no power of our own, it was a really powerful moment, and I realized that all I had done was set my sail in the right direction. So Jesus says, set your sail in the right direction. It’s very simple. Set your sail in the direction of loving God and loving others. He will take care of the rest. So let me ask you this question. What is one command of God that you have the hardest time obeying? Maybe you can think of the big picture. Maybe it’s loving God. Maybe it’s honoring God with your life. Maybe that’s the one you struggle with. Or maybe it’s the other big one — it’s loving others. Maybe it’s a specific command from Scripture that helps shape that love. Maybe when you think about loving God you realize, I don’t think I’m loving him with my finances. I’m not loving him with any generosity, or I’m not loving him with my sexuality, I’m not loving him with my relationship with my husband or my wife, or there is some way that I’m not loving him because I’m not obeying something that he’s taught me.
Maybe it’s others. Maybe it’s a specific one, like the Bible tells us we are supposed to speak the truth in love. Maybe you are really good at speaking the truth — not so good at the love part. If we don’t speak truth in love, it’s hard for the truth to land, right? Or maybe you are really good at the love part, but you are not so good at the speaking truth part. Honestly, if we claim to love, but we don’t speak truth, we are not loving so much as we think we are, so maybe that’s it. You know, let the Holy Spirit do his work, but what is one command of God that you have the hardest time obeying? And then, this is the question for you, the really impractical one, what will I do to set my sails in the right direction this week? What will I do before the day is over, really?
What will I do to set my sails in the right direction, because if I set my sails toward loving God and loving other, Jesus promises, he guarantees, he will take care of the rest. He will get you over the standard you could never reach. He will fill your sails and move you through conflict to better things to better things beyond it to things you could not accomplish on your own. So how are you going to set your sails this week? What’s one concrete thing? Let’s take this before the Lord. God, we thank you, as your followers, who have our faith in you and have received the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Lord, we thank you for this truth that we are not called to check off boxes and follow all of these rules and regulations, but we are simply to set our sails toward loving you, toward honoring you and toward loving others, and Lord we thank you that when we do that, the power of the Holy Spirit will move us forward in ways we could never accomplish on our own?
Lord, would you help us to rest in that truth? Would you speak through the power of the Holy Spirit and convict us in ways that we are not setting our sails in the right direction, that we are really not seeking to honor you or to love others. Convict us of those, Lord. Give us the courage — give us the clarity to set our sail in the right direction by seeking obedience in that area, and Lord, will you fill our sails? Will you move us forward? Lord, I — it’s on my heart that I think there are probably people listening right now. That they are hearing this good news, and they recognize, that is good news. To have that kind of power, that’s awesome. They also recognize that they don’t have it. They don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit because they don’t have a relationship with you. They have never put their faith in your son and what he did for us on the cross. I’m going to ask all the followers of Jesus right now, would you begin praying for the people around you, the thousands of people watching online right now?
For those that don’t know Jesus, don’t have a relationship with Jesus, and they don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit. If that’s you, there is no reason for you to leave here today powerless. There is no reason for you not to have this power. If you know that you don’t have a relationship with God, not a personal one, and if you know you are trying so hard on your own and you are not making the progress that you want, you know that you are not experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit filling your sails, and if you are ready to surrender your life to him, to receive forgiveness and new life and power, if you are ready for that, if you are ready to put your trust in Jesus, would you just lift your hand up right now? That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. If you are watching online, just click the button right below me. Just say this to God, it’s so easy, but it’s so powerful. Say:
God, I have done wrong. I have sinned, and I’m sorry. I know I can’t keep trying to do this on my own. I need you. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to forgive my sin. I believe you rose from the dead, and that you offer me forgiveness and new life and power through your Holy Spirit. I need those. So right now, I accept them from you. Jesus, I accept new life. I accept forgiveness, I accept the Holy Spirit and his power in my life. Jesus, I put my trust in you. I’m yours for now and forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.