My wife and I met on the internet, and it was over the course of weeks that I began to love her, but I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell her because we had never actually, physically met face to face. But even when I got off the plane, I didn’t blurt out, “I love you.” I waited, I waited so that I could hold her hand, walk with her, talk with her, look into her eyes, and yes even kiss her. Because I wanted to SHOW HER I loved her before I told her I loved her.
Why is that important? Well it’s important because I wanted her to feel safe, know that she could trust me, be familiar with me and so that when I finally did tell her that I loved her… she wouldn’t be surprised. So when I say, “I love you” she hears the words, but in those moments agrees and she thinks to herself, “I know this is true, because he has shown me that he loves me.”
You don’t want to tell someone you love them and have them shake their heads and say, “no you don’t.”
And I want to tell you something this morning, and this is certainly my story and I am hoping it is your story also – and I am hoping that you agree with me.
And that is each of us is the product of our upbringing and our environment and many contributing factors have made us the people that we are today, but more than the city we were raised in, or the books we read in school….
Two types of people have made us the people we are today. Two types of people have influenced our lives the most and made us the people are we. And it’s not necessarily people of faith, people who were related to us, or people who held a certain political viewpoint.
“Two types of people have shaped us and influenced us into the people we are today: People who have hurt you and people that have loved you.” (Pastor Andy Stanley)
I believe you and I were are shaped and influenced the most, by the people around us who love us and the people who hurt us. And the truth is, those people can be anyone. You can be hurt by people who believe the right things and who from the outside look like fine upstanding citizens and you can be loved by people who had their faith and beliefs all messed up.
Yes it’s great to have beliefs, and convictions and it’s wonderful to be people of faith, but it’s how those beliefs manifest that change and influence others. Remember Jesus didn’t’ say they world would know us by our doctrine or by or theology, he didn’t say, “it’s real important that you get a life verse.” He said that we would be recognized by our actions. We would be recognized by how well we loved the world.
Pastor Andy Stanley said “If we would just do what Jesus did instead of arguing about what he said, the world would change.” (2x)
Which raises the question, what did Jesus do? It’s a tough question, because he did a lot of things, and he didn’t’ seem to be very constant. You know what I mean? I mean if Jesus had always said the same thing to each person, or treated everyone the same, I think it’d be easier to be His follower, but what I find when I read the stories is – a Jesus who was constantly treating each new situation in a new and unique way.
Let me show you what I mean.
A man came up to him (Jesus), saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
A rich man asks Jesus, “What must I do to gain eternal life?” And Jesus says “sell all of your possessions.” Wow… let’s look at another story
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
(so again, Jesus mentions love at the height of Christian obedience.)
The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
To the rich man, Jesus says “sell all your stuff,” and to the Pharisee, Jesus says, “You’re close to eternal life…” Wait how come he didn’t tell this man to sell all he had? The Pharisees were upper class. they lived well. How comes Jesus doesn’t tell this person to sell all their possessions?
How come Jesus is never consistent with his actions – how come he doesn’t have a life verse that he just applies evenly to everyone and every situation? Probably because everybody is different! No two people are alike – and no two situations are alike – have you ever noticed that? Jesus noticed it – and so he doesn’t treat each person exactly the same.
To some people Jesus was very tender to, and to others he was very … cutting and to the point, sometime even sarcastic.
Why did he treat people differently?
I think because when you chose to love other people – it’s a messy thing – and it requires you to step into their lives, hear their stories – and then – apply love how they need.