Barnabas Bulletin ~ 0163
THE CHALLENGE OF DOING WHAT JESUS SAYS
Christianity stands or falls on our ability to hear what Jesus Christ says to us, and then for us to do it. Words have to be translated into actions if we want to see and know the impact of the Bible Message. In John 13:34-35 Jesus made this statement: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Here Jesus is giving us the one attribute, sign and truth that will cause everyone else to know we belong to Jesus. It is all about a personal love relationship with our fellow Christian believers. Jesus even gives us the standard required for that love ~ it is to be “as Jesus has loved us”! That is beyond our natural capabilities. So we must learn to really abide in Christ in such a way that His Love shows through us in a pure and genuine way. His love is very different to the world’s concept of love. Notice that it is not our loving Jesus ~ but our loving one another. We have the challenge to build genuine and loving relationships with one another that impacts everyone who knows us. For many of us this is a huge challenge. Life has become very difficult for many, owing to family problems, church problems and problems between Christian believers. It has had the effect of causing many to isolate, to draw back and not get too close to others, or to let others get too close to them. We can be afraid of being rejected if we allow others to get too close to us and discover the “real you and me”. But that is the way of discouragement, defeat and despair. Jesus has taught us that we need to be reaching out to one another, to be building genuine relationships that demonstrate a true Jesus love for one another, so that others will want to be a part of what we have got.
A NEW COMMANDMENT
Did you notice that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you”? To me this speaks that this commandment supersedes all other commandments. We should focus on Jesus’ priorities for us! When we are doing what Jesus has told us, then all the commandments will be fulfilled by our genuinely loving one another. And without our obedience to Jesus Christ we cannot fulfil them anyway!! As my friend John Fergusson, says: “We must do what Jesus did, and stop doing what He did not do.” We need to be reminded that Christianity is according to Jesus Christ’s terms, not ours!
The question has to be asked: “How close do you allow other people to get to you?” If you struggle with others getting close to you, why do you think that is? What has caused that? Are you hiding something, or simply think you are too shy? Whatever it is, we need to face it and deal with it, for it is robbing us of the abundant life that Jesus came to give us (John 10:10).
Virtually every day we are being contacted by people who are hurting and are responding to my “A Wounded Spirit” article on our Website. These people are Christians who have either been hurt in natural family relationships or in spiritual relationships at churches. It is very sad, for it is robbing so many of that life which Jesus wants us to enjoy when we will do what He has said to us. The enemy has been very cunning in his tactics against Christian believers ~ and far too often we have been quite ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:12). How important it is that we practice forgiveness as quickly as we can, so we will not be snared by the enemy. Life is too short to not be enjoying the fuller blessings of Jesus in our lives.
MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY
To fulfil this commandment of Jesus, we must not wait for someone else to “make the first move.” We must learn to stop making excuses and reach out to befriend our fellow believers. God challenged me early in my Christian ministry of the importance of my loving people. I had been a preacher for 16 years when He stopped me in my tracks and said to me: “I am going to teach you how to love people.” I was shocked, for I thought I did love people. When I re-acted and told Him I did love people, He then showed me fellow Christians I did not like and told me that my love for Jesus was only as strong as my love for those people! He then gave me 1 John 4:18-21. In those 16 years I had spent hours and hours seeking God in prayer, pouring over the Scriptures and not missing Christian meetings. Yet I had overlooked the one thing that Jesus required of me. I had to be able to love and relate to my fellow believers! Over the next 10 years God took me through experiences that taught me to love people like I had never loved them before. He showed me the power of love to cast out fear by making me fearless when I had three death contracts on my life for five years! I have experienced the power of God’s perfect love to cast out fear! Hallelujah! Even one of the men paid to kill me got saved and came and asked my forgiveness! The effect of my learning to love people more changed my life and ministry. I have ministered in a different way since then. The Gifts and Ministry of the Holy Spirit have flowed more freely through me and I have been able to more quickly discern where people are at in their walk with God. I’ve had the joy of ministering to multiplied thousands of people over the years, and many tell me they felt the love of Jesus flowing through me as I ministered to them. The numbers of people that tell me they feel free to relate to me as a Christian minister amazes me. I give thanks to Jesus for all He has done for me (and He has not finished yet)! I am so glad God stopped me in my tracks all those years ago. I have walked and lived in the benefits of that ever since.
Do not be afraid to reach out to others in love. As you do that, God will strengthen and sustain you every step of the way. In doing that you are fulfilling His new commandment that He has given to every one of us: “to love one another as He has loved us”. What a challenge! But what positive results come forth from doing what Jesus asks of us. We cannot lose for winning when we do things the Jesus way! God bless you! ~ Rodney W. Francis.
Prayer: “Dear Lord God, I come to You in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, and I ask You to help me to yield myself more to the leading of Your Holy Spirit. I ask You to help me to see the benefits of doing what you have said. Help me to learn how to love people more in a real and genuine way. May I have a much bigger believing heart so that I can earnestly desire and persevere more, and demonstrate my faith and belief in You much more positively. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name I pray these things, Amen.”