Sanctification... round 2
Quick recap on what this all is. It's not a sermon or teaching. It's hopefully a conversation starter. Please leave questions and comments in the comment section at the bottom. We open with a short prayer, move onto a topic and then close with worship. After that the level of engagement is up to you. Now, let's go!
Allow us to love one another as you love us. Allow us to love as we love ourselves. Teach us. show us, walk with us as the world tries to drive us in the opposite direction of love. Show us the ways of heaven on earth.
Round 2 of Sanctification.
(some sections of this one come from an oldie but a goodie HOW VS WHY)
To be clear Sanctification is a work of the cross... that is the side that is instant and defies time and space; but there is another part to it. There's the part that has to do with bringing us into wholeness with ourselves and each other. That side is the one that trips us up the most.
*I want to go into a whole "on earth as it is in heaven" tangent now but I'll save that for another day.
Let's go back to the Greek on the topic at hand as a quick recap:
- consecration, purification
- the effect of consecration
- sanctification of heart and life
Last week we went through Christ as the purifier... the refiner. This week we will focus on each other and how community impacts sanctification.
If you are married you can really attest to this. You know that each day that you push through life and choose to love your spouse you grow. Sometimes it may not feel like it but that growth is slow and steady. I've been married for 13 years, that love is a process of perfecting me more and more each day and then you throw children in the mix and it's indescribable what that is. Love in my household is a slow sharpening of iron. It's not always pretty and it's not always nice and neat; but year after year we grow. We grow in love and we grow in life. Every year I experience this "sharpening" I feel that I have grown closer to the Lord. It's best viewed in retrospect than in the moment... sometimes love can be hell in the moment. I imagine that if a plant had feelings, pruning would be hell for it or if precious metals had feelings, the refining fire would be hell.
Let's start here. If we love one another, "God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." That sounds bit like purification there. The greek word for love here is “Agapao” which means- to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.
So, when we live life together God's love is made complete! The New American Standard Version words it this way: "No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." Abide- does not leave…. God does not leave us. His love is perfected in us! This is prefaced by our love for each other… a love that is not merely verbalized but tangibly expressed to one another in community, then the reward we receive from that is the presence of God abiding… dwelling in us, and his love that was smeared like a cloudy mirror is now being perfected in us!
1 john 4:16-17 says: “and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” “In this world we are like Jesus” In this world we are the unstained image of Jesus… We have been made like Jesus! Are we allowing ourselves to fully experience the love of God? Are we allowing his love to be perfected in us? Are we allowing him to abide in us? Are we experiencing community with others AND God? Or are we trying to do the comfortable thing and keep others at a distance?
John makes it clear, that to experience the perfected love of God we must fully experience what it is to love others. I believe that the best gifts that we can receive are ones that we can share with others. Gifts that go on a shelf aren’t much a gift. The ability to love is a gift, a gift to be shared with whoever will accept it. True love requires sacrifice. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only son” John 3:16 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 All of those verses show that love is not cheap. Love that is not made up with word but of action. Love that is backed by sacrifice.
So with all of this we can see that God has a plan for us to be with Him and Him with us... but it's a plan that isn't talked about often. It doesn't lend to institution, it takes away the power of authority and places the power in the hands of humble love. Being perfected or sanctified is about letting go of self and pouring everything out for the good of others. In that, we are given the grace of disconnecting from the things that hold us back.
We lose desire to compete with the world.
We lose desire to rule over others.
We stop striving to be first.
We gain a new perspective in which we love our neighbor as ourselves. We gain a self-sacrificial perspective.
If this type of sanctification were embraced today there would be no need for kneeling at football games. There would be no need for talk laws against hate crimes. There would be no need for healthcare reform.
But... this earthly/heavenly sanctification seems to have been forgotten. So we look to earthly means to solve spiritual problems.
I'm not saying any of this to minimize the current issues in the world, I am however saying that these issues wouldn't exist if we... as a race (the human race) embraced the ideas of love.
If the Church learned to live as Christ there would be hope. The restoration of man (here and now) would be taking place. The division that we currently see is evident that God's love is not being perfected in us through loving one another.
Have we chosen the wide path? The one that is well lit and heavily traveled?
Maybe it's time for us to repent. Maybe the ways of love have been forsaken for the ways of the world. Maybe we've been so caught up in being right that we've lost track of what is actually right.
We live in a society that gives EVERYONE a platform and an algorithm to reach people and be edified by them clicking the like button. That's not the way of love, that is a self seeking way of life. "How many people are going to like or comment or share this message..." that is all based in a desire to lift one's self higher. It's hard to love sacrificially when we are busy attempting to out do what we were yesterday.
Today, let us love. Let us choose to sacrifice. Let God's love be perfected in us through our love and sacrifice for one another.