In this day and age, and particularly in America, being a Christian has become a very nominal thing. Many people would call themselves Christian and even say that they follow Jesus. They cite examples of going to church, knowing a few Bible stories, and their own belief that there is a God as evidence for their Christianity. They may even point to the faith that is or had once been in their families. They may say things like, What religion am I? Well my family has always been Catholic or Yeah Im a Christian. I grew up in the Lutheran church. The term Christian has become so broad and non-specific that we must usually ask follow up questions to determine if people really know and are following Christ.
Tonight well look at what being a real Christian really looks like through the eyes of one of Jesus closest disciples: the apostle John. John spent a lot of time with Jesus while He was here on earth and caught His vision for what being a true disciple really was. John heard Him speak, saw Him minister and watched Him die. Out of this intimate knowledge of Jesus, John writes his version of the gospel and his letters. We would do well to seek out Johns wisdom and to heed his words about following after Jesus.
1. Keep His Commandments 1 John 2:3-5
v3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
John says that if we really know Jesus, then we would be keeping His commandments. John associates knowing Jesus with obedience. He implies by this that out of a real knowledge of Jesus we will be absolutely compelled to obey Him.
a. John also records Jesus saying that not only will knowledge of Him bring obedience, but even more than knowledge, love brings obedience If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15
b. John 14:19-24
Jesus is telling the disciples that He will be leaving earth soon, but that they will still have Him in themselves. He says that whoever keeps His commandments will have Him living inside of them. Jesus says our love will be visible to Him and to others by how we keep and obey His words. He isnt saying that we are saved by works or by obeying what He has told us to do, but He is saying that out of the love we have for Him will flow obedience and actions.
So what are Jesus commands to us?
Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5
Do not hate/stay angry with your brother murder
Do not lust adultery
Turn the other cheek
Love and pray for your enemies
- Luke 14:26-33 Forsake the world and everything in it
- Luke 9:23 Deny, Pick up, Follow
Jesus asked us to do some really difficult things. Though He didnt leave us with just His words about living, He also left us with the incredible example that was His earthly life. Jesus didnt just talk about how we should live, He showed usand John picked up on that.
2. Walk as He Walked 1 John 2:6
The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
John again is challenging his readers by saying that claiming to abide in God is not enough. John says there must be an active lifestyle that follows the model Jesus laid out for us.
So how did He walk?
a. He emptied Himself Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus stepped out of Heaven, stepped out of all the glory that comes with being the Most High God, and stepped into the rags and shame that was being a servant as a human on earth.
b. He gave up His way Luke 22:42
In Jesus darkest hour He didnt run away or change His mind about the suffering He was about to encounter, but instead He asked for the Fathers will to be done.
c. He died John 12:23-27
Jesus recognized that without death and sacrifice life cannot come. Just like a seed that must go into the ground and die to bring forth a plan, Jesus had to die to bring forth the life that He offers to the world.
3. Love One Another 1 John 2:9-11
Throughout Johns letter he contrasts light and darkness, truth and lies, and the way of the Father and the way of the world. In these verses he points out this contrast between the light and the dark and the impact that our relationships with each other have on our walk with the Lord. John says that if we hate others and think we walk in the light with the Lord, we are simply kidding ourselves. We must forgive each other. Our relationship with God is directly influenced by our relationships with other human beings
particularly those in the body of Christ. In order to be walking in the light with God we must love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
So how do we love each other?
a. Lay down our lives John 15:12-17
Jesus told us what to do (love), showed us how to do it (die), and called us into partnership with Him.
b. Love like He did Matthew 9
Jesus didnt play by the religious or social rules that would have separated Him from loving people. He touched the dirty, spent time with sinners, ate with tax collectors, He risked being a fool for the sake of loving people.
Jesus loved with a real, sincere and tangible love. His love was evident to all who witnessed His ministry, and He encourages us to have that same kind of lovenot a love that lives in our thoughts or in our belief systems, but a love that breaks into our everyday life.
James 2:14-17 + 1 John 3:16-18
Love is a word that we use and hear so frequently that it can lose any meaning that it once had. Jesus did not use the word to describe a warm, fuzzy feeling or a concept, but He used the word to describe action. He used it as a verb that required nothing but action from His hearers. Jesus has not called us to words, or thoughts, or ideas about love. He has called us to action. He has called us to love like He did.
1. Do I need to repent and obey? Do I need to call what God has commanded good and right for my life?
2. Do I need to change the manner of my life so that people can see that Jesus is living in me?
3. Do I need to start really loving people like Jesus does? Are there attitudes towards people that I must repent of? Are there people that I need to forgive?
1. Which command(s) in the Bible do you see as the hardest to follow? Why is that one(s) the most difficult for you?
2. Which of the things that Jesus did for us (emptying Himself, surrendering His will, dying for us) is the most uncomfortable thing for you to do? Why is that?
3. Have you ever had someone (besides Jesus) love you and/or forgive you when you didnt deserve it at all? Is there someone in your life that you know you could and should love better? Is there someone that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to forgive?