Wednesday lunchtime greetings!
You remember last Lord's Day Pastor John read to us a couple of passages from the New Testament that help illustrate for us the meaning of true love, the kind of love the Greeks called “agape”, which is selfless “love in action”.
First Pastor John read from 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV):
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If you really perceive the VASTNESS of the love of God, then you gratefully and easily give of yourself in self-sacrifice that imitates Jesus's ultimate self-sacrifice for us.
Pastor John gave as an example of this is a charity whereby an adult can sponsor a child. The adult helps support the far-away poor child through a monthly cash gift as the child grows up. The giver stays in touch with his sponsored child through letters and photographs that the charity helps transmit. Hopefully someday each of you fellows will find in this kind of selfless giving the unique joy of knowing that giving is part of something much bigger: agape - true love! We get to CHOOSE to serve others; we don't do it through some loveless compulsion.
Then Pastor John read from Mark 12:13-17 (NIV)
“13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words.
14 They came to him and said, 'Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?
15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?' But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. 'Why are you trying to trap me?' he asked. 'Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.'
16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, 'Whose image is this? And whose inscription?' 'Caesar’s,' they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, 'Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.' And they were amazed at him.”
Do you fellows remember the picture of the old coin that Pastor John put on the big screen? A denarius was a genuine silver coin of the Roman Empire that had the current Caesar's image on it. By contrast to that, we are in “coins” in God's image. The denarius is symbolic of everything of this imperfect world. On the other hand, believers must be symbolic of God's perfection. How is that? If you truly love God, then in awe of His love for you, you love others without worrying about if or not they love you back. That is the choice: love God, and those He put around you, or love the things of this world, and love only those people who you are sure love you.
As Pastor John explained to us, giving sacrificially for others is the real act of worship. Every such points us to the greatest sacrifice ever. The truth of this does not oblige us; it INSPIRES us!
When the one boy was carrying another boy away from a disaster some adults asked him: “Isn't he too heavy for you?” And the boy replied “He isn't heavy; he's my brother!” In serving the God who loves us, all men must be our brothers.