May 20, 2019
Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
I just finished reading a captivating novel entitled “Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol” by Creston Mapes. Some will think one of the two characters unrealistic as she spends over ten years praying for the salvation of this extreme figure trying to move people away from the reality of heaven and hell. But if you think praying for someone’s salvation for that long isn’t real, how long do you think you were on someone’s heart before you yielded to Christ? Or how long have you been praying for a friend or loved one to finally realize the answer they are seeking is in Jesus?
Today’s scripture reminds me of the book. It comes from some of the last words spoken by Jesus to his disciples. John records some of those last words at that last meal. In the gospel by his name, in chapter 13 we read these words:
13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come. 'I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Just love each other. More than tolerate. More than be nice. More than do to others what you would want them to do to you. Jesus says to love each other. So what does that mean for us today?
We live in a world that has taken the word and hijacked it like it has so many other words in our vocabulary. Here are a few notable examples from a Huffpost article.
1) “Hook up,” said Gena Lovins Fausel. “Hook up” used to mean getting some kind of device or service or appliance up and running, i.e. “hook up cable television.” Today, it also means “hooking up” with someone to have sex or just “hooking up” with someone as in meeting up.
2) “Fantastic” meant “existing only in one’s imagination” centuries ago. Today, it means something is really incredible.
3) “Bad,” said Nancye Hernsmith. “Bad” used to describe someone who’d done something wrong or something that was poor in quality. Today, it also means “good” or “great” when used as slang. (And “breaking bad” means to challenge conventions and defy authority.)
4) “Gay,” said Anna Cornwall. “Gay” used to mean merry or happy, i.e. “don we now our gay apparel.” Today, it is usually associated with being homosexual as in “gay marriage.”
5) “Sick... now is a good thing,” said Angel Matuszak Novie. “Sick” used to mean ill. Today, it also means something is really amazing.
6) “Backlog” meant the biggest log in the fire during colonial times. Today, it means a reserve or a pile of work you still need to plow through.
7) “Rubbers used to be slip-on boots that covered shoes,” said Alexa Robbin. “Rubbers” also used to be erasers (and still mean erasers in Britain). Today, it’s most often slang for condoms.
8) “Years ago, ‘thongs’ were another word for flip-flops. Nowadays, thongs are underwear!,” wrote Linda Hervas.
9) “Tool” used to mean something you dug up the garden with. Today, it also means someone who’s not intelligent enough to realize they are being used or taken advantage of.
10) “‘Message me!’ wouldn’t have made sense a few years ago... like ‘Letter me’?” wrote Amy Richards.
11) “Cell used to mean jail! Or a tiny part of your body...” said Amy Richards. Today, of course, it’s also what you call your phone.
12) “Awful” used to mean something that inspired awe. Today, it means something is bad or that someone looks terrible. It also means exceedingly great as in “an awful lot of money.”
So today, when we think of love, we think of the actions behind closed doors that make movies R-rated and cause so much pain to individuals and families when we exercise the physical acts beyond the boundaries of marriage as described by God’s design. The Greeks, with their deep philosophical discussions, divided love, the single word we use for such a broad band of emotions, into four different categories. Jesus uses the deepest form, here. “Agape,” God’s love. Love that gives and gives with only the best in mind for the recipient of that love expecting nothing in return for that outpouring.
We don’t see much of that in our society. We are much too selfish to give expecting nothing. We want something back in return. We give with the attitude, “What’s in it for me?” We often say we don’t want anything back, but often we will give for the pleasure it brings, or the reward we think we will get in heaven in return for the acts we perform. We have to get beyond even that to express agape, God’s love.
Give without even hoping for that good feeling that comes with giving. Give expecting only heartache in return. Give knowing that it comes from a heart that wants the very best for the recipient. God’s love. The kind of love that allow us to nail him to a cross and watch him die the most agonizing death imaginable.
How do we do that? I’m not sure I’m totally there if I’m honest with you. I try to love with God’s love, but to be honest, there are people I don’t like. It has nothing to do with race or color or nationality or even religion or ideology most of the time. I realize we grow up believing what surrounds us. We learn from parents and friends and neighbors. We believe what made those near us successful or what made them failures.
God performs an incredible miracle changing our hearts in the middle of this evil cesspool of life we experience every day. And the influence it has keeps trying to suck us back under its currents. The currents get stronger every day. As I watch what has happened through the years with entertainment, schools, government, even churches, I find tolerance for pure evil grows exponentially, not arithmetically. The Christian walk is hard, even after almost 60 years. And it is getting harder.
The world would have you believe God is not real or there are many ways to make it to heaven, paradise, naravana, whatever place you want to call the afterlife, if there is one, they say. But God hasn’t changed. He is the creator of all things including time and including the word that tells us there is only one way to reach him. What does that mean for the millions who have not heard about Jesus? I don’t know. I’m not God. I don’t know how his grace and mercy covers the uninformed.
I do believe those who know about Jesus, but have rejected him will face the consequences of their choice. It’s like the doctor telling me I can live if I take the medicine that’s in the bottle he gives me. It’s there sitting on the table. It’s the one thing that will let me live. I know what it can do. I know it is available. I can see those little white pills. But unless I open the lid, tap one of those pills into my hand each day and swallow it down. I will die.
Salvation is like that to those who have been told. The message is there. It’s on the table. It’s waiting for you to take off the lid and swallow it down. But until you do, that gift just sits on the table and does nothing for you. You can stare at it all day long. You can wish it would heal you. You can hope you don’t face the consequences of not taking the medicine. You still gain nothing until you accept the gift and follow those simple instructions. Believe it. Accept it. Follow him.
When he lives inside us. We can see others differently. We can begin to see them through the lens of God’s eyes and recognize what they can become with his help. We can see they can be a child of God. Accepted into his family just as we were accepted into his family. We can find a way to love them when they seemed so unloveable before. We can share our testimony of the change God made in us by the resurrection power of his spirit living in us. Are we perfect? By no means. The Christian life is hard. Satan tries his best to defeat us in any way possible. But God in us is greater than he is. When we rely on his strength and not ours, we can stand. We can love. We can share. We can be Jesus to those around us.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.