A New Kind of Love
Jesus has such a great way of taking the old things in our lives and making them brand new. He wants to take all of the ordinary things in your life and do something much greater through them. No matter where you are in your life, God wants to take your relationships and take them from normal to a new level.
During this time where everyone is staying at home, we have become more disconnected from other people. Of course, the good thing is, we can connect virtually. But even though we are more digitally connected, I talk with people all the time who are feeling more and more disconnected.
Not only do we have a viral pandemic, but there’s also a loneliness pandemic. A recent report from the Well Being Trust, said the pandemic could lead to 75,000 additional “deaths of despair” from drug and alcohol misuse and suicide partly due to social isolation.
Usually in times of cultural crisis, people gather together, but in this one, we’ve been told to stay apart. The problem is, we weren’t made to live life alone. We were created for connection. There’s no such thing as a lone ranger Christian.
Here’s how Jesus said it in John 13:34:
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:34-35
God gets the glory when we love each other. The New Testament tells us to love one another. It says pray for one another; care for one another; serve one another; greet one another. It says help one another and encourage one another. If you want to know what it means to be a part of a faith family, you can study through the “one anothers.” You can’t do those “one anothers” all by yourself. You need a church family.
I can’t live out God’s purpose all by myself. It’s impossible, because the number one thing God wants you to learn is how to love. We talked about this last week, loving God, and loving people. So, you’ve got to be with other people. You can’t do it on your own. In other religions, the holiest person is the one that isolates themselves and lives in a monastery or on a mountain somewhere. But when you’re a Christian, you have to learn to love other people, so you need other people in your life.
Jesus said that the best way to witness to someone outside of the church about who Jesus is to love the people inside the church. At the Connection Church, we are diverse, we have people from all walks of life, all different skin colors. That’s counter-cultural! Because out there, this group of people doesn’t get along with that group of people. And these people don’t like these people over there. But in God’s family, we love each other no matter how much money we make or what our cultural background is.
The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
What does this new kind of love look like? Here are 4 ways you and I can display love to each other so that when people look at us, they can see our love for each other in action.
4 Ways to Display Love
1. Hospitality displays love.
Hospitality works like this: God welcomes you into His forever family. Jesus said He is preparing a place for you and He will welcome you into your new forever family and your new home in heaven.
There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2
Isn’t that awesome?! Think about this,
God created the universe in just 7 days, but Jesus has been creating a home for you for more than 2000 years!
That’s going to be incredible!
So, what do we do to show Jesus’ kind of love to the people around us? We open our homes to people!
In 1 Peter 4:9, Peter said, Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 1 Peter 4:9
Think about that. God gave us our homes and He wants them to be places of welcome, worship, and witness.
We’ve been spending a lot more time at home lately. Isolation and being alone works for a while. But what happens when the troubles happen? And, God forbid, someone in your family gets sick? Or you go through a marriage problem? Or a job crisis? That’s when you’re going to need real people in your life. The time to develop relationships is before you need them. Once the crisis hits, it’s too late. That’s when you need people in your life.
That’s why Hebrews 10:25 tells us:
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Instead, let us encourage one another, —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
Hanging out together should be a habit. It’s something you do frequently and consistently, not just occasionally.
I love a good campfire! With s’mores, chocolate, and marshmallows, and graham crackers. I’m always the one to ruin a good campfire by bringing out my guitar for a singalong! You have those logs that are glowing and burning brightly, but when you take one of those logs out of the fire, it doesn’t take very long for the one off by itself to cool off and go out. But, if you put it back with the other logs, it will catch fire again!
That’s what we’re like too. Maybe you’ve been feeling like your own fire of faith has been cooling down lately. It could even be in danger of going out. Maybe it’s because you haven’t been around other fired-up followers of Jesus. What should you do about that? Get back with them again.
We do that at The Connection Church through our Connection Groups and through our Celebration Services. We meet online and in-person. But our priority is to engage and connect.
In Acts 2:46, we see this in the early church,
They worshiped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for communion, and shared their meals with great joy. Acts 2:46
So, are you showing hospitality by connecting with other believers in your home and in worship together?
2. Humility displays love.
Selfish pride is one of the most destructive attitudes in our relationships. In Philippians 2:3, Paul says,
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
Why is humility so important? James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I don’t know about you, but I want God’s grace in my life? We get grace when we humble ourselves before God and the people around us.
3. Honesty displays love.
Humility always comes before honesty!
In Romans 12:9, Paul says, “Love must be sincere.” Real love flows out of who you really are inside. You don’t fake it ‘til you make it. Being honest means that what you see is what you get. Do you know the word Hypocrite actually comes out of the world of drama? It’s an acting term. If you’re being a hypocrite, you’re acting like you’re one thing when you’re really another.
The reason we hide is out of fear. We’re afraid that if people find out what we’re really like, we’ll be exposed and people will see the real us. When you get up close with another person, you start to see what they’re really like. That’s why we don’t like people to get too close to us, because we don’t want them to see our problems.
None of us are perfect, and you find out the strength of a relationship when you really get to know each other.
We don’t want to get real and honest because we’re afraid of rejection or we want to avoid conflict. If I show you a fake version of myself and you reject that, you’re not really rejecting the real me, so I don’t feel so bad. But at the same time, I will never know if you will accept the real me until I am honest enough to show you the real me.
The cure for the fear of rejection is to know that you are fully loved and accepted by God. Daniel 10:19 says, “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”
You don’t have to be afraid because you are very precious to God!
The good news is that God already knows who you really are. He knows the absolute worst thing you’ve ever done. He knows that thing you most want to delete or erase. And still, He still loves you. He still gave Jesus on the cross to die for you. He still wants you to be a part of his family.
You can risk being honest because you are already accepted by God, so it doesn’t matter if someone else doesn’t accept you.
The One who knows you best, loves you the most.
4. Harmony displays love.
A full one-third of the “one anothers” are about unity in the church.
Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:16 (NLT)
I love that God calls it harmony when we are united. There’s something beautiful about great harmony. Do you know who sings in harmony the best? Brothers and sisters! Seriously, there’ve been great groups over the years with families who sing harmony together. Some good examples include the sisters in HAIM, the Jacksons, the Band Perry, Needtobreathe, and the Jonas Brothers! In the church, we are brothers and sisters. For centuries, if you went to church together, you would say, “Hi Brother Blank,” or “Sister So-and-so.” We don’t do that anymore, but we’re still brothers and sisters!
It’s impossible to sing harmony by yourself. We need each other.
Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church… be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)
We have a lot of differences at The Connection Church, but we all share the same purpose.
Our purpose unites us: To connect with God, with others, and others with God.
As long as we focus on those three connections together, we will have harmony and unity!
Jesus shows us a better way to live and to love. Jesus loved people. He loved thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, the sick, and the poor; children, and His followers. Jesus loved people who were devoted to Him and people who were different from Him. He even loved difficult and dangerous people. And His love is the same today as it was then.
Because you are loved by Him, you are called to love as He does. Have you thought about how much Jesus really loves you? You’ll never be able to love others more than you’ve been loved. You are fully loved, and so you can fully love others with a whole new kind of love!
This means we practice hospitality, and we live humbly, and we get honest, and live in harmony! That’s how Jesus calls us to love.