Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Loving Jesus means Loving People

Yeah I've managed to grab a few minutes internet access (the copper cable has been stolen from our area meaning no internet or phone line for about a week!).  Last night I had the opportunity to speak at Leed Met CU, here are my notes:

Following Jesus – Loving the Uni – Luke 7v36-50

How we think of the gospel determines what we do with the gospel. Here is Luke 7 we see Jesus engaging in mission, we see him connecting with people, convinced that no-one is beyond the gospels reach and loving people.

1. Connecting with people
**Where is Jesus? He is at Simon the Pharisees house having a meal. Jesus is spending time with people. This is not a one off. Jesus goes where people are and where they are comfortable to connect with people. He goes to the synagogues, he deliberately goes to see a demon possessed man, he goes into Simon Peter’s home, he gets into the fishermen’s boats, he goes from town to town, he goes to Levi’s work and then his house, he goes to a funeral, he goes from village to village and town to town and so on...

Jesus deliberately and intentionally goes where people are! He goes where they are comfortable be it the synagogue for religious people, the home for other people, the street for others. And Jesus doesn’t just give people a few minutes in his busy schedule he invests time in building relationships.

 Meals play an enormous part in Jesus ministry in Luke, and meals weren’t a rushed fast-food grab a bite to eat type of affair. They were relaxed and relational. In Luke 5 we see Jesus eat in Peter’s house, then Levi’s house, we see it here, and when Jesus sends out the 12 and the 72 on mission eating with people is part of what he tells them to do. He feeds the 5,000, he eats with various Pharisees’ at least 3 times, he eats with Mary and Martha, with Zacchaeus, he eats with his disciples at Passover and then after his resurrection twice he eats with disciples.

Jesus connects with people, with all sorts of people, he takes time out to invest in relationships and goes where people are and shares a meal with them. And he expects both the 12 and the 72 to do the same when he sends them out.

Build relationships, connect with people, go out to them. And meals still provide a brilliant opportunity to do that. They provide an opportunity to get to know people, it shows people we care about them and want to get to know them, it helps us find out about their needs, their loves, the way they think so that we can serve them. They also provide an opportunity to connect your unbelieving friends with other people who know and love Jesus (50:50 meals).

2. Convinced that no-one is beyond the gospel’s reach
Another of Luke’s big themes in his gospel is that Jesus is for outsiders, and we see it here with this notoriously sinful woman. As she walks into the room all the Pharisees are trying not to get to close to her, they are shocked that she’d dare enter the house.

**By contrast how does Jesus react to her? Jesus isn’t embarrassed, he doesn’t recoil in horror even though he knows what the others in the room are thinking. Jesus welcomes her and explains her actions.

(47-48)**What’s the word that’s repeated 4 times in these verses? “forgiven”. Jesus says she has done this because she is forgiven; the Pharisees are shocked that Jesus forgives sin and Jesus reiterates that she is saved by faith.

To the Pharisees this woman was beyond hope. There was no way she could be saved. But Jesus is utterly convinced that no-one is beyond the power of the gospel to save.

But there is another theme in Luke that I think we sometimes miss; Jesus also comes to save religious people. He is in Simon the Pharisees home, Simon is a good guy, he’d be in the temple every week, he knows his bible, he never swears or blasphemes, he doesn’t get drunk, he gives to good causes. But Jesus is utterly convinced that Simon is not without need of or beyond the reach of the gospel either!

Simon thinks like the world does. He thinks of morality as a ladder [draw it out], and the cut off point for being saved is just under where he is, but this woman is no-where near it.

Jesus tells a brilliant story to show how wrong that is, (41-42). I need two volunteers. Just open the envelope, what’s in there? It’s a bill for £4195 – 2 months average wage, and £44052 – 500 days wages. But neither of you can pay it! Ok, I’ll cancel them – rip up bill. How do you feel!

That’s the picture Jesus gives of morality. We are all debtors and notice what he says; neither can pay back what they owe. We need the one we owe the debt to – God – to forgive the debt.

Simon needs to be forgiven just as much as the woman does, both owe an un-payable debt, the scale is irrelevant.

We need to be convinced that everyone has a debt that they cannot pay, and we also need to share Jesus conviction that the gospel alone can reach the very, very bad and the very, very good!

Do you see Jesus conviction – No-one is beyond the need of the gospel or the power of the gospel to save! The bad boys of campus, the hard drinking, sex addicted, party animals need to hear this because the gospel can, and is the only thing that can save them. And our religious friends need to hear this, the good hard working person on our floor, or in our flat or house needs to hear and respond to Jesus, because their being good will not pay off the debt of sin.

We need to share this conviction Jesus has that the gospel is the only power that can change the world one life at a time, that no-one is immune from needing to hear this. Because if we don’t we will not hold out the gospel, we will not serve those in need of the gospel.

3. Compelled by grace to love
Rather than avoiding talking about the woman and her actions Jesus uses her to teach a valuable lesson. What prompted the woman to do this? To enter this room of religious types who would look down their noses at her, to risk social rejection and the angry glares and mutterings? Love.

(47)”Her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown.” She does what she does because she has experienced forgiveness, she knows that the great un-payable debt of her sin has been paid for her and she loves the one who has done that for her. The word forgiveness here is in the past tense, she is responding here and now in Luke 7 to what has already happened, not contributing to her salvation.

She knows she has been forgiven that she has experienced grace, and she loves the one who has shown her that grace a love that is seen in loving lavish service of Jesus her saviour.

What is it that drives our service of Jesus? It has to be understanding the grace of God in Jesus. Realising the extent and cosmic scale of our debt, that our sin and rebellion against God leaves us spiritually utterly bankrupt. But that Jesus Christ pays for every single one of our sins, and we are forgiven – justified! You can only respond to such love with love, to such grace with giving everything you have.

It is only loving others because we grasp how much we have been loved that enables us, empowers us to share the gospel, to serve others, to love them enough to meet their needs, and to love them so much that we will speak the gospel to them convinced of their ultimate universal need and the gospels ability to save them.

Do you see the convictions we need? Everyone on the campus needs Jesus and the gospel is so powerful it can change the world one life at a time. But we only love people as we understand how much we have been loved, the scale of the debt Christ has paid for us. That love is seen in building relationships, spending time with people, serving them but convinced that ultimately they need Jesus.

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