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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Becoming People Who Look Like Love

James Meehan - Becoming People Who Look Like Love

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    James Meehan - Becoming People Who Look Like Love

Hello and welcome. Today we are continuing in our series, He Loved Us First, where we have been studying a letter written centuries before any of us were ever born. Why? Because we believe that this letter, that is a part of the Bible, contains truth and wisdom that has the power to transform our lives, our relationships, and our futures. Because we believe that this is more than any other letter that you might get in the mail, that in fact, the guy who wrote it, John, who was a disciple and an eyewitness of the resurrection and the death of Jesus, had a little bit of help when he wrote it, not from an editor or a ghost writer, as we might think about it, but from the God of the universe in the person of the Holy Spirit, inspiring the words that John was writing. That's why we believe that this ancient letter has the power to impact the way we live today so that we can become people shaped by the love of God and moved by love for others.

And so what's gonna happen is I'm going to read a chunk of this letter. I'm going to pray for all of us to be able to hear what it is that God wants to tell us. And then we're gonna go back through this passage of scripture one piece at a time to help us get as much out of it as possible so that we can see how we might apply this truth to our lives today. So, what we're gonna do is we're gonna read in 1 John 3:16-20 Here's what John writes. He writes that, "We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So, we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion, then how can God's love being that person? Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other. Let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so that we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything".

Heavenly Father, speak to us today. Open our eyes so that we can see whatever it is that you wanna show us. Open our ears so that we would hear whatever it is that you want to tell us. God, help us be open to the truth of who you are and what it looks like for us to live as your people. We pray all of this in Jesus name, amen, amen.

So, what we're gonna do now is go back through that passage of scripture one verse at a time. And the goal as we do, is not to collect some neat facts, right? It's not about gaining information, it's about experiencing transformation. Because we believe that the Bible was not written merely to inform us, but to transform us into the kind of people who love God with all that we are and love others the same way that Jesus has loved us.

So, in 1 John 3:16, John tells us, "We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So, we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters". We don't know what real love is because of the real housewives of whatever county, right? We don't know what real love is because of the latest Netflix reality dating show. We don't know what real love is because of that relationship goals Instagram account that you love to follow. None of that paints a picture of real love. We know what real love is because of what Jesus has done for us, because he sacrificed himself on the cross for you and for me.

The big idea from this entire series that we keep coming back to is this, that real love is not using people or things to get what we want. Real love is choosing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. We know what real love is because Jesus showed it to us. And the thing is like when we see that kind of love in our world, we take notice. I'm gonna give you a couple examples. How many of you are familiar with "Harry Potter"? Show of hands, if you're watching online, type it in the chat. Okay, how many of you are familiar with "Marvels Avengers"? Show of hands, if you're watching in real life, type it in the chat, if you're online. Now, which of those do you prefer? "Harry Potter" or "Avengers"? And if the person next to you disagrees, fight them now. Just kidding. Please don't do that, please don't do that. That would not be real love. But here's why I bring this up, because "Harry Potter" and the "Avengers" are two of the most successful media franchises of all time.

Like "Harry Potter", seven books, eight movies. They've made billions and billions of dollars. People who do not like reading love "Harry Potter". "Marvel", need I say more, right? The "Infinity Saga" is a series of movies. I think there's 23 of 'em filmed over the course of more than 10 years with about 50 hours of total run time. Some of the most successful franchises ever made. People who don't like superheroes love "Marvel". Why? I think it's because both "Harry Potter" and the "Avenger" series are built on this theme of sacrificial love. And you may not be very aware of it because you might not have actually watched him or read him or paid that close attention. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna spoil it.

So, spoiler alert, for those of you who don't want to hear it, but "Harry Potter". It begins with the dark Lord Voldemort coming to destroy Harry and his parents. But Harry is saved because of the sacrificial love of his parents. And then "Harry Potter" ends with "Harry Potter" once again, face to face with the dark Lord Voldemort, and he literally sacrifices himself, dies, comes back from the dead to defeat the darkness that Voldemort was wreaking on the world. He died and came back to defeat the bad guy. Maybe sounds a little bit like somebody else you might have heard of. And then the "Avengers", right? This incredible series of movies that built up to the final showdown with Thanos in "Avengers: Endgame", where the heroes are on the brink of defeat. They've got almost everything they've tried having failed, and Thanos and his armies keep moving forward.

Until Ironman, the protagonist who kicked this entire series off makes a really difficult decision. He sacrifices himself to defeat Thanos, he sacrifices himself to save the universe, and he dies in the process. I think that's why people love "Harry Potter" and "Marvel" so much, not because of wizards and superheroes, but because these franchises are built on the theme of sacrificial love. And when we see it, whether in movies, in media, or in our everyday lives, we take notice. why? Because it's a picture of the kind of love that God has made available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. It's a picture of the kind of love that we were created to experience because you and I were created to be loved by God and to share that love with others.

So, John continues in verse 17, because he warns us about this fact that sometimes we might think what we have is love, but it's actually far from it. In verse 17, he says, "If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need, but shows no compassion, how can God's love be in that person"? In other words, what John is saying is like, "Hey, if you've got enough for you and you see a fellow human being, a fellow Christian in need, and you don't do anything to help them, then have you actually experienced God's love? Do you actually have compassion"? And I wanna remind you that just like love, compassion is more than what we think and how we feel. It's about what we do and how we live. Because the word, compassion, compassion, literally what it means to suffer passion, comb with, its suffering with people.

So, if we truly have compassion for others, what we're doing is we're stepping into their suffering and doing what we can to help them walk through it. I remember a time when my love was put to the test. It was years ago. And this family that I had gotten pretty close to through the church had a really, really difficult series of circumstances and some pretty bad choices lead them to a place where the consequences were that the dad wouldn't be able to see his daughters unless something really significant happened. Now, leading up to this moment, I felt like there were a couple of times where God was actually prompting me to provide financial support to some people in need. The first time it was like 20 bucks and it wasn't a lot, but because it felt weird and uncomfortable, I ignored the prompting that God put on my heart.

And so instead of helping this person, which I absolutely had the means to do, I just ignored it. And then about a week later, another situation came up. This was with a person I knew more and the need was quite a bit greater where it wasn't gonna cost 20 bucks, it was gonna cost a couple thousand dollars. And at the time, like I had been saving up, and so, I could have helped. And I felt like God wanted me to help. I felt this prompting from the Holy Spirit to provide for this family because of something that had happened. But that just felt like too much. So, I ignored it again. And then this third situation happened where this family is in a moment of crisis. I'm on the phone with the wife and she's telling me about what's going on and how they're trying to figure out how to make it work and how much money they'll need to be able to make it through this so that their family can stay together. Because if they don't, then the family's gonna get ripped apart.

And I'm hearing this and my heart is breaking. And the thing is, she wasn't asking me to do anything except pray. But I felt like God was telling me to do more. And so I asked the question, I was like, "Okay, like how much do you need"? And she told me the answer. And I kid you not like an hour before this phone call, I had been checking to see how much money I had in my account because of this thing I'd been saving up for. And the amount she said she needed was exactly how much I had in my account. And I felt like God more loudly and more clearly than the previous times was telling me to give to help these people in need. And so I did. And it was really hard. Like I kid you not, for the next two weeks waiting for my next paycheck, I had $7 in my bank account and like I was almost out of gas in my gas tank.

And so as I'm trying to figure out how to make it the next two weeks with $7 in my account, I'm having to tell the person who's now my wife, Mandy, who's absolutely incredible that I can't go on a date with her because I don't have enough money to pay for gas. Like this was early on in our relationship too. And I didn't wanna tell her about what I had done because I didn't want it to be like, "Hey, look at how cool and holy I am". So, I didn't tell her why. I just told her I couldn't hang out. And I was terrified that she was gonna dump me for being a Trump. Thankfully, she didn't because she is gracious and she is patient. And now we are married and our son, Jace, turns two in just a couple of months. But I say all that to say I had the means to help somebody in need.

And the first time I didn't do anything, and the second time, I didn't do anything. But the third time, I don't know if it's real or if it was just my imagination, but I felt like with the third situation, it's almost like God was saying, "Hey, I wanna give you one more chance to be obedient. And if you don't that's fine, you just might not get a lot more chances in the future. Because if you are not gonna be obedient, if you are not going to demonstrate love for others, I'm gonna find somebody else who will". And so maybe you are listening to this message right now and you realize that you have the means to help somebody in need and maybe God's calling you to do exactly that. But you're a little bit nervous, you're a little bit scared because it's gonna cost you. And what it costs you may not even be financial. It might just cost you your time or it might cost you emotional energy, whatever that thing is. What I wanna remind you is that love is a choice to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. And it's a choice that we make because of the decision that Jesus made to sacrifice for us.

Now, you might also be listening to this message and think, "Yeah bro, I don't even have a bank account, so maybe this doesn't apply to me". And the good news is that what John says next in verse 18 and 19 makes it clear that this type of love applies to all of us. In verse 18, he says, "Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other. Let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth so that we will be confident when we stand before God". It's been said that actions speak louder than words. And I think we can all agree that that is very true because people say a lot of things. But when they back those words up with actions, you know that the words are real.

When the way that they live is actually in alignment with what they say, then that is a person of integrity. And all of us want to be that kind of person. And if you are a follower of Jesus, then you need to know that this is the kind of person you're called to be, somebody who doesn't just receive the love of God but actually responds with love for others because of what Jesus has done for us. We have been called to lay down our lives for one another. Actions speak louder than words. And John says that our actions will show that we belong to the truth. Because what you do shows who you belong to. When you live like Jesus, you are showing that you belong to Jesus. It's kind of like that old game, follow the leader where you've got like this group of people and somebody is at the front of the line and whoever is at the front of the line is the leader.

And everybody else has to do everything the leader does. They have to go where the leader goes, they have to do what the leader does, they have to say what the leader says, otherwise they're out, like they're not gonna be the next leader. But if you do it well enough, then eventually you might get to the front of the line and become the new leader. Following Jesus is kind of like the game, follow the leader, right? Like when you say yes to following Jesus, it's kind of like you're getting into this line that Jesus is at the front of. And he's asking all of us to do what he does, to go where he goes and to say what he says. And when we do, we prove that we belong to him, that we belong to the truth. Because what you do shows who you belong to. But if instead of actually following our leader, Jesus, you just kind of sit off to the side, watch what everybody else is doing, and then when anybody asks you say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm playing follow the leader," but you're not actually doing anything the leader is asking you to do, then are you really playing the game?

If you show up to church regularly and when people ask you tell them that you're a Christian, but you're not actually loving other people, then are you really a Christian? Are you really following Jesus? This is the challenge that John is bringing to us today. He wants us to understand that following Jesus is so much more than just the words we say, it's about the life that we live. So, if you want to show that you really do belong to Jesus, then here is what John is asking you to do. Here's what I believe God wants all of us to do. And it is simply to put love into action by choosing to sacrifice yourself for the good of someone else. Put love into action by choosing to sacrifice yourself for the good of someone else.

For some of you, this is going to look like when you get home from Switch tonight, serving your parents. Because you're gonna get home and there's gonna be dishes that haven't been done, laundry that hasn't been folded, trash that hasn't been taken out, and you are going to have an opportunity to sacrifice your time, your comfort and your convenience to serve your parents. And you're gonna actually step into that moment. And not only that, but you're gonna then tell your parents why you did it. You're gonna say, "Hey, I want you to know that I saw the trash hadn't been taken out yet and I did it because I want you to know how much I love you and how grateful I am for all that you've done for me".

For others of you, maybe what you're gonna do is, you're going to make the decision today to move from being a spiritual consumer to actually becoming a spiritual contributor because you're starting to realize that this whole following Jesus thing isn't just about you. Like yes, God has done amazing things for you. Yes, God wants a relationship with you, but the love that he's offered to us is never meant to stay with us. Because of what he's done for us, He's asked us to do the same for others. And maybe what that's gonna look like is instead of you just like hanging out with your friends and the people that you know really well before Switch, you're gonna actually go out of your way to meet new students and help them feel welcome. Because when you first started coming to Switch, maybe that's what somebody did for you and that was a game changer.

Maybe for you, instead of farting around and being a distraction in your small group, you're actually gonna pay attention. You're actually going to listen when your leader is talking and you're gonna contribute to the conversation. Maybe for some of you, you're gonna sign up to begin serving in Life Kids on the weekend or on host team, or maybe you're even gonna start a Bible study in your school or start serving in your community because you wanna be the kind of person who makes a difference. And maybe for some of you, you're gonna apply this tomorrow when you go to school because you're gonna sacrifice your desire to be popular and choose to do the right thing even when it costs you your reputation. Because you know love is not about using other people or things to get what we want.

It's about choosing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. And that's why I think this message is inviting all of us to put love into action by choosing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of someone else. Because our actions speak a lot louder than our words. And what we do shows who we belong to. And if you belong to Jesus, then even more plainly, here is what he wants you to do. 1 John 3:23, "This is his commandment. We must believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as He commanded us".

If you've ever wondered what God wants you to do, there it is. He wants you to believe in Jesus and he wants you to love other people. It's not complicated, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Because believing in Jesus is more than just believing that two plus two equals four, right? It's not just agreeing with an idea, it is committing yourself to a person. And loving other people isn't just thinking nice things about them or having positive emotion towards them. It is choosing to sacrifice yourself for their good because that's exactly what Jesus has done for you. And when we do that, we will be following in the footsteps of our leader, the one who laid down his life for us. So, what is real love? It's not using other people or things to get what we want. It's choosing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of someone else. It's choosing to do for others what Jesus has done for us.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you sent Jesus to die for us, that you loved us enough to sacrifice your own life, to save ours. And so God, I pray for all of us as we are hearing this message that we would be open, that we would be obedient, show us what you want us to see, and then give us the courage, the wisdom, and the discipline to put love into action. Give us an opportunity to actually serve someone else today. We pray all these things, in Jesus name, amen.

Maybe there's others of you that as you're watching this message right now, all of this talk about love sounds really good until you begin to realize that you've never experienced it for yourself, that that maybe what you've been searching for is a love that changes your life for the better. But no matter how hard you search, you never seem to find it, you keep coming up short. And the painful truth is that no love on this earth will ever be able to satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. Because we were created for more than just what's here on this earth. We were created for a relationship with God, the creator of everything.

As a matter of fact, the very beginning of the Bible tells us that God created you and me to live in relationship with him, to be united to him, to be in a perfect loving union with the God of everything. But there's this thing called sin. It's the things that we do that disobey God and hurt others that created a separation between us and God. It fractured our relationship. And ever since then, as human beings, we have been trying to fix things, to put 'em back together and get our way back to God. But nothing works.

So, God took things into his own hands by becoming a person named Jesus. He entered the world 2000 years ago. He lived a perfect life. He died a blameless death on the cross to be the sacrifice for our sins that would make us right with God. And the reason why Christianity is called good news, because Jesus did not stay dead. Through his resurrection on the third day, He made it possible for all of humanity to be reunited with their Heavenly Father. And maybe that's why you're here today watching this message. Because today is the day that you begin a relationship with Jesus, where you turn from your sins, you put your trust in him, and he makes you new.

If that is you and you wanna say yes to Jesus today, and you want to begin a relationship with him, then right now simply type in the chat. Jesus, I give you my life. I want a relationship with you. And when you make that choice, here's what happens. God makes you new. God forgives you of your sins, and he reunites you with him. The love that you've been searching for can be found through him when you put your trust in Jesus. And as people are making that decision to say yes to Jesus for the very first time, here at Switch, we're gonna pray out loud together alongside, because even though you had to make that choice on your own, you don't have to do this thing we call faith on your own because we are a family. So, altogether, out loud, repeat after me.

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your life, I need your love, I need your light. Make me new. In Jesus name, amen, and amen, and amen.

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