Sunday, 4 November 2012

All Saints Word - Loving Relationships

Loving Relationships.
7#8 8 Qualities of Healthy Growing Churches

John 13:33-36
What is this Quality?
A community where people are committed to welcoming, serving, caring for, and forgiving others. Growing churches also tend to have a lot of laughter in them.
Welcoming: Loving is inclusive and creative. It spreads.
Serving: Loving is putting someone else's good first – and delighting in that.
Caring: Loving is having empathy with other people and acting on that impulse.
Forgiving: Loving places the highest value on maintaining, developing, restoring relationship.
How is it shown in Jesus?
Jesus welcomes all sorts of people. Fishermen, women, tax collectors, lepers, sinners, Romans. Jesus risked surprising and offending the people he had just won over.
Jesus came to serve Matthew 20:28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Philippians 2:6 etc.
Jesus had empathy. He was often “filled with compassion” Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 20:34. He cared about people's present needs and their eternal destiny.
Jesus forgave those who, through weakness, let him down. John 21:16. He forgave those who opposed him through ignorance, Luke 23:34. He preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all.

How is it shown in NT church?
? One of the first things that happens to the new church is the Pentecostal multilingual outpouring. Everyone could hear “in our own language” Acts 2:8. Persecution led them to Judea and Samaria. Ethiopian eunuchs were not turned away. Samaritans and Greeks were converted. This thing was spreading. To the ends of the earth. There were lots of difficult discussions about who could be “in”. Just Jews? Just Men? Just free people? People who ate meat? People who didn't? Rich people? Poor people? Priests, Tanners, Soldiers, Jailers. There were differences, arguments, fallings out, but they were urged to make “every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”. Rom 14:9
Loving Relationship” in NT church embraced serving one another. People complained. It was “unfair”. Acts 6:1 They split into groups. They followed different leaders. But they did it together. And when the chips were down they chipped in to care for one another. Those new gentile churches gave sacrificially through Paul to care for those at HQ who had probably looked down on them 1 Corinthians 16:1. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
How is it shown in our church & in me?
Most churches think that they are strong in the area of “loving relationships”. I hope they are. But how do you really know? Maybe its OK for me and for my groups of friends. But do I always gravitate to the same people? Am I actually looking to welcome new friends? I remember being castigated by a visiting Guest Service speaker in a large, lively, charismatic church after our “inspiring” forty five minutes of worship songs which followed the gathering when hugging and kissing was much in evidence among the congregation. We had failed to see that our rather self-congratulatory activities were excluding our guests rather than inspiring them. We were not there to serve - we were meeting our own needs. And its not just about guests. Someone said that a crowd can be the loneliest place to be. How do we care for the person who is sitting by us right now? A Hug? A Kiss? Talk to them? Smile? Give them space? Forgive them? Offer them your last Rollo? Are they “high maintenance” or “low maintenance” people? Find out.

John 13 34 “A new command I give you: love one another.” is Jesus' command. Not suggestion, not aspiration, not advice, not an impossible ideal. A command. So it cannot be primarily emotional or instinctive. It must be a choice. An act of your will. If we welcome people, try to serve them, care for them we will make a pigs ear of it quite often. But if we are operating from love, secure in the knowledge that Jesus loves us unalterably, unconditionally, eternally – that will be a source of laughter and fun because you know you are among friends who will forgive your bumbling.
J.F.D.I. Is a mnemonic from a management course.
You can appropriate it if you like.
J.F.D.I. Jesus Faithfully Did It therefore you J.F.D.I Just Faithfully Do It.
Loving relationships?
A new command I give you: love one another.”

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