Service Video Message Video Message Audio %} Scripture Verses Malachi 2:15; 4:5-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8; Matthew 7:21-23; John 13:34-35; Ephesians 4:16 Worship Playlist So Will I by HillsongI Surrender AllBe StillHow He Loves by David Crowder Downloads & Resources A Loving Community Dr. Jon Morrissette - 8/14/2022 For the next few weeks, we’re doing a series we are calling: “I Love My Church.” Last week we explained how this could be taken a lot of different ways (i.e. is it a marketing strategy? Is it another gimmick? Are we making some kind of boast? Are we trying to brainwash one another?). But how we should think about it is as a kind of covenant, or pledge: “I love my church.” In other words. . . “I’m an owner here, a fully vested stakeholder. Yes, this is Christ’s church—but it’s also my church! I’m a member of Christ and a member of this body. I’m no longer a spiritual freelancer, floating around. This is my home. This is where I’m laying my roots.” Not many people are serious about the Church. Man, if I had a dime for every person who said to me, “I don’t need church…” But it isn’t just Church. It’s also Marriage and Family. Marriage was once considered sacred, and desirable. Godly families were considered indispensable, the backbone of society. But look how far we’ve come in our attitude toward these divinely established institutions! God created marriage to radiate the glory of his faithful love. God’s love for Israel. Christ’s love for the church. A husband’s love for his wife, and she, her husband. Marriage is to declare God’s faithful love! And, such marital love is to bear fruit. Malachi 2:15 (NIV) says, “Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.” Godly marriages > godly children. At the end of Malachi, we catch a glimpse of Christ’s ministry. Malachi 4:5-6, “Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.” There is God’s purpose, his plan, his design, but then there are our designs. In Scripture, God hangs everything on godly marriages and families. As goes the marriage, so goes the children. As goes the children, so goes society. We reap whatever we sow into our marriages and families. But there is yet another vital institution beyond marriage and family, and it’s the Church. Like a marriage, and like a family, the Church is to radiate the glory of God’s faithful love-- God’s love for Israel, Christ’s love for the church. Like a marriage, like a family, the Church is to produce generation after generation of godly offspring. There is no greater blessing to society than godly churches, godly marriages, and godly families! But destroy these institutions and the land falls under a curse. This morning I want to talk about “the” indispensable ingredient to a vibrant church, a vibrant marriage, and a vibrant family. In a word, that indispensable ingredient is “love.” But what is love? You know, when love breaks down between a man and woman we hashtag it #MeToo. It’s true that men are capable of great cruelty to women. It’s also true that women are capable of great cruelty too! Lately a new hashtag has been popping up on social media. The hashtag is #ChurchToo. Churches, as an institution, can be capable of great cruelty. Likewise, clergy, pastors, and church leaders. But its also true that church members (that yes, Christians) can be capable of great cruelty too! Before we go hash-tagging the opposite sex, or our church, maybe there is wisdom in doing some introspection. There is no harder question to ask of ourselves than this, “Am I loving person?” This week, my thoughts went back to my first fulltime ministry. When I started preaching, I became very aware that I was in a spiritually toxic church. I could take time, and list dozens of examples, and evoke your sympathies. We derive a sense of self-righteousness “harsh-tagging” all these experiences! One fall I approached the long-time pastor of Southside Christian Church, Bob Green. I asked Bob if he would be willing to mentor me. Bob is one of the most gracious, loving pastors you’ll ever meet. Every week, we would meet, and I would just spew my church hurts and pastoral frustrations. Bob would patiently listen, and I interpreted his silence as agreement. But then one week he completely turned the tables on me. After listening to me rehearse my story he abruptly cut me off and said, “Jon, let’s pray.” And then he prayed, “Lord, we can both see how heavy Jon’s heart is. Lord, help him learn how to love people. Amen.” Now he might have prayed longer and more eloquently—but that’s all I remember. I sat there, under full conviction. It was as if a mirror had been held up to my ugly soul. The question weighed heavily on me all day, then all week, and month, and ever since. The question: Am I loving person? If we understand love as “an unconditional commitment to an imperfect people that brings about God’s intended purpose”—then how well was I doing? Not very good honestly! Now couldn’t we all use a Bob in our life? There are some passages that have helped me evaluate my “love-quotient.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 convicts me. It begins, “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Someone could be serving God in some pretty sensational and spectacular ways. Giving away all your possessions? Giving up your own body! Yet if you don’t have love, it’s all nothing. I think of Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’” So, what does love look like? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a says, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.” I remember back when Lara and I were dating. I had a friend who cautioned me that it’s a really big deal to tell a girl, “I love you.” I took his caution to heart and waited a very long time to say those words. Of course, that same guy spouted off those words within weeks of dating his girlfriend. But then one night I sprung these words on Lara, “Lara, I love you.” I expected her to say it back to me—but she didn’t! Instead, she whipped out her Bible and read 1 Cor 13, emphasizing each phrase. When she finished, hoping it would help my cause, I said, “Oh. I guess I’m not sure I love you.” And she was incredulous, “What, you don’t love me?” These verses certainly apply to marriages and families. But their first application is to the church! Will I learn to be patient as God works in others, and especially in me? Can I be kind even to the ungrateful and wicked (as the Bible says of God)? Can I be satisfied where God has planted me, and not envy the call of others? Can I boast in Christ crucified, and not in my own strength and abilities? Can I stop looking down my nose at people in arrogance as if I need less grace than others? Can I stop rudely pushing forward, advancing myself, my vision, my agenda? Can I overlook people’s shortcomings and faults, instead of being irritated? Can I let go of my hurts and forgive others? Can I truly seek the good for others? Must I embellish my grievances? Can I let the simple truth be enough? Can I see God’s work to completion… bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. This past week I reread a book called “The Motive.” It’s one of about a dozen Leadership Fables written by Patrick Lencioni. In the introduction he writes, “Whenever I hear a graduation speaker exhort a group of students to ‘go out into the world and be a leader,’ I want to stand up and shout, ‘No! Please don’t be a leader, unless you’re doing it for the right reason, and you probably aren’t.” He points out that motive for most young people (and a lot of older leaders too) is the rewards that leadership brings with it. Things like notoriety, status, and power. Too many “leaders” are willing to embrace the rewards of leadership but not the demands of leadership. They want to pick and choose how they spend their time and energy based on what they want to get rather than what they need to give those they’re supposed to be leading! Ouch! Don’t you think the same thing that is too often true of “Leaders” can also be true of churchgoers? As I read the New Testament I find myself convicted by the countless places where were told to “love one another.” In John 13:34-35 Jesus tells his disciples, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love isn’t an optional accessory to your church experience. It “is” to be your church experience. On the one hand you should “be loved” and “feel loved” by the body. But on the other hand, you should “be loving” and actively love others. The command of Jesus isn’t to “be loved or demand love” but “to love one another.” Our motive ought to be to love one another as Christ loved us! Now let me tell you a little secret. If there is one reason, I sometimes doubt my call as a pastor, it’s because of love. If I were to boil our mission as a church down to a few words it would be Ephesians 4:16: “From [Jesus] the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.” Our job is to help the body (the Church) build itself up in love through the proper working of each individual part. First, I need to be doing my part. Would I describe myself as “loving?” Would my wife? My family? My church? But second, we all need to be promoting Lakeside’s “proper” growth… is Lakeside a loving church? Is everyone here doing their part—loving one as Christ loved? Do people readily identify us as Christ’s disciples by our love? Sometimes I feel I have so much growing to do in learning to love others myself… that I have no business teaching anybody else much of anything! Yet there I go. I have to find peace growing in love myself while helping others grow in love. And I think the same is probably true for you too. In addition to 1 Corinthians 13, there is a whole list of “one another” commandments (100+) that keep us from thinking of love sentimentally. UNITY: Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50). Don’t grumble among one another (Jn 6:43). Be of the same mind as one another (Rom 12:6, 15:5). Accept one another (Rom 15:7). Wait for one another before eating (1 Cor 11:33). Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another (Gal 5:15). Don’t challenge or envy one another (Gal 5:26). Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Eph 4:2). Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgive one another (Eph 4:32). Bear with one another and forgive one another (Col 3:13). Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Thess 5:15). Don’t complain against one another (Jas 4:11, 5:9). Confess sins to one another (Jam 5:16) LOVE: Love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12,17, Rom 13:8, 1 Thess 3:12, 49; 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Jn 3:11, 4:7,11; 2 Jn 5). Through love, serve one another (Gal 5:13). Tolerate one another in love (Eph 4:2). Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Peter 5:13). Be devoted to one another in love (Rom 12:10) HUMILITY: Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14). Give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:10). Don’t be haughty; be of the same mind (Rom 12:16). Serve one another (Gal 5:13). Be subject to one another (Eph 5:21). Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Phil 2:3). Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5). OTHERS: Don’t judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in a brother’s path (Rom 14:13). Speak the truth to one another (Eph 4:25). Don’t lie to one another (Col 3:9). Comfort one another concerning the resurrection (1 Thess 4:18). Encourage and built up one another (1 Thess 5:11). Stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24). Pray for one another (Jam 5:16). Be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9). Teach and admonish one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col 3:16).