Conspiracy 2009 part 4
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 20, 2009
VIDEO – What Kind of Christmas Will It Be?
Conspiracy. This is our fourth week in this series, and all through the
series we’ve been talking about battling back against what our society
has turned Christmas into and instead get back to what it was meant to
be. We’ve been talking about replacing consumerism with compassion.
We’ve been talking about entering into the story and encountering the
Baby in the manger.
And we’ve been trying to do that by learning to…
first week, we saw how for the people involved in the events of the
first Christmas, it was all about worship, and expressing that worship
by being humbly obedient to God, by seeking after Jesus to express
gratitude and adoration to Him, by placing Him above their own
self-interest, and ultimately by giving Him the best that they had –
not of their stuff but of themselves.
The second week, we really
explored how commercial Christmas has become… how we’ve come to equate
the extent of our love for someone with the price of our gift. How
there’s this never ending demand for us to spend spend spend on gifts…
to the tune of half a billion dollars here in North America… to the
point that it empties our bank accounts and maybe even puts you deep in
debt. And so we talked about pushing back against this consumerism… to
resist the gravitational pull of that vortex of holiday spending, to
refuse to equate the price of our gift with the extent of our love for
someone, to avoid the dangers and pitfalls of overspending… We talked
about pulling back on the dollar amount and instead putting more
thought and effort into our gifts… giving more meaningful gifts… and
how that frees us up to give in more significant ways.
led us into what we talked about last week, giving more. Because I
don’t want you to become all Scroogy… to go all bah-humbug over
Christmas. I do want you to give and receive gifts. I just want you to
do it with a proper balance. To give what you can afford, and not go to
extremes. To give gifts that are meaningful, and not just expensive. To
give less presents but more presence. To give out of a heart of
generosity and not obligation.
And ultimately, we talked about
how by spending less on meaningless gifts, we can spend more to meet
real needs in our world… to give of our time, our talent, and our
treasure to serve the poor, the marginalized, the needy.
by the way, parents… why not talk about this stuff with your kids? This
whole idea of spending less affects them, but I think you might be
surprised at how much they understand it and how they want to be
generous to the people that can really benefit from it.
brings us right up to today… loving all. Loving the people in our
lives, loving the disadvantaged in our society, and loving the poor
around the world. How do you sing “Skidamarinky Dink-a-dink – I love
you” to our world?
After all, isn’t love the backdrop for
everything that happened that first Christmas? Christmas is a
recognition and celebration of the day that Jesus came into our world…
when Jesus, who is God, decided to give up all His rights and
privileges as God in order to enter into His own Creation. And why did
He do that? Because of love.
You see, we as a race had rebelled
against God. We had turned our backs on Him and decided to go our own
way. And in so doing, we severed our relationship with Him. To the
point that it was beyond anything we could do to repair it. That’s what
we’re talking about we say we are lost in our sinfulness… it means our
relationship with God is damaged beyond our ability to repair it. And
that means we are destined for a Godless eternity.
But the thing
is, God loved us too much to leave us in that kind of mess. We couldn’t
do anything to fix our relationship with Him, but He could. And so, out
of His love, He entered into His own Creation in the form of a baby, He
grew up, and He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin, to
offer us forgiveness and a restored relationship with Him, and He rose
from the dead, conquering death in order to offer us eternal life with
That’s really the message of Jesus. And it’s summarized so well in that
famous verse from the New Testament…
John 3:16 (NLT)
God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that
everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
And from what Karen read earlier…
1 John 4:9-10 (NLT)
showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the
world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real
love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a
sacrifice to take away our sins.
That’s Christmas, isn’t it? God
loved us so much that He gave His Son. He gave of Himself so that we
wouldn’t have to be lost in our sinfulness anymore, but instead we
could enjoy a new life with Him.
But again, it was all motivated
by love. And so that’s what we’re talking about this Christmas. Being
motivated by our love for others. Allowing the love of God to flow
through us as we extend it to other people.
And what I want to
do over the next several minutes, is talk about what it means for me to
love others. And if you have your message notes, you can use them to
follow along and fill in the blanks as we go.
Does It Mean to Love Others?
My love for others means I give of myself
is really what we’ve been talking about over the past couple weeks.
Instead of giving meaningless gifts at Christmas time or anytime of the
year, how about giving of yourself? Invest your life in others. Invest
yourself in your family and friends, and invest yourself in the poor,
the marginalized, the underprivileged.
And yes, that will
probably involve some money. But more than that, I’m talking about
investing your time, your energies, your attention, your prayers, your
abilities… I’m talking about loving people by investing yourself, and
not just tossing a few bucks in their general direction then forgetting
Because love is not just an emotion. It’s not just
expressed through random gestures. It’s an attitude of the heart that
leads us to give of ourselves and serve others. You can see that in 1
1 John 3:17-18 (NLT)
If someone has enough money to
live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no
compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us
show the truth by our actions.
so that passage is talking about giving money to people in need. But
what I want you to notice here is the motivation behind it. It’s an
heart of love, it’s an attitude of compassion, that propels you to
action. It’s giving to meet a need, but giving because you have already
become invested through your compassion.
Now, in talking about
love, there’s a classic definition of love that you hear at weddings
all the time comes from the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians. And it
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand
its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being
wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the
truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always
hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Isn’t that a
great definition? But you know what? If you go to that passage and you
read it in context, what you discover is that when the Apostle Paul
wrote those words, He was talking about how we are to serve each other.
He was talking about investing our lives in others.
Love… Real love… means that we give of ourselves.
My love for others compels me to give sacrificially
The love that God had for us led Him to make the ultimate sacrifice…
1 John 4:10 (NLT)
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent
his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
love that God has for us cost Him personally. We’re not going to get
into a big discussion of the Trinity this morning… we’ve done that
before and we’ll do it again. But not this morning. But basically, we
understand that Jesus is God, and so really, He sacrificed Himself.
started by giving up the comforts of Heaven to be born as a Baby. And
His sacrifice culminated when He died a very painful death on a cross,
executed as a common criminal.
That’s what it meant for Him to give sacrificially. Odds are, you’re
not going to give sacrificially in that same way.
if God Himself was willing to give so sacrificially because of His love
for you and for me, can’t we give sacrificially for one another, too?
the rich man who came to Jesus one day and asked Him how he could
inherit eternal life? This man had lived a good life, had obeyed the
Ten Commandments, and from everything we know was an all-right guy. But
Jesus recognized the one thing that was holding him back. He was
addicted to his possession. His stuff was more important to him than
his relationship with God. And so Jesus told Him…
Mark 10:21-22 (NLT)
“Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and
you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many
rich man had a messed up perspective of his possessions. They were
all-important to him. Just like they can become for you and for me.
why I think it’s so important for us to learn to give sacrificially,
because it helps us keep our possession in perspective. Sacrificial
giving keeps our stuff from gaining control over our lives.
real love is going to compel us to give sacrificially. Real love means
that we don’t have to force ourselves to give… it means we just can’t
help ourselves. We’re compelled to give… sacrificially.
My love for others follows the example of Jesus
of us who consider ourselves to be Christ-followers… who look at the
way that Jesus lived and who try to apply His teachings to our lives…
well, love has to be part of the equation. Jesus loved others purely
and freely, and if we’re going to follow Him, then we need to love,
too. We need to do good and give of ourselves because that’s precisely
what Jesus did.
1 Peter 2:21 (NLT)
For God called you to do
good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He
is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
And if you look at 1 John 3:16, you read basically the same thing…
1 John 3:16 (NLT)
know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we
also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
again, Jesus is our example. He’s our model. He showed us what it means
to really love others. His love meant that He gave freely and
generously of Himself. And if we’re going to live like Jesus lived, we
need to allow that same kind of love to flow through us.
Going back to what Karen read earlier, we can read about the end result
of living and loving like Jesus did…
1 John 4:17 (NLT)
as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be
afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence
because we live like Jesus here in this world.
When we love, we
live like Jesus. When love for others motivates us to action, we are
living like Jesus. When we are even willing to sacrifice and give of
ourselves… give out of our time, our talents, our resources… we are
living like Jesus.
My love for others is the evidence of the work of God in my life
you love others without the presence of God in your life? Sure you can.
All people, even devout atheists, have the ability to express love and
compassion toward others. But for the Christ-follower, our ability to
love grows exponentially as our relationship with Him grows.
1 John 4:11-12 (NLT)
friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each
other… But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is
brought to full expression in us.
If God is at work in your
life, an ever-increasing love for others is going to be the result… a
love for people you know, and even for people you’ll never meet. You’re
going to have a greater capacity for compassion for people all over the
world, because of the work of God in your life.
1 John 4:7-8, 16-17 (NLT)
friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.
Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does
not love does not know God, for God is love. …
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in
them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.
know, it’s kind of funny. A lot of people in the world today seem to
have the impression that the evidence of the work of God in your life
is that you start to think you’re better than others, that you start to
talk funny, that you tend to dress in polyester, and that you become
out of touch with the real world.
But that’s not the evidence of
the work of God. That just seems to come naturally for some people. No,
the evidence of the work of God is love.
Remember that clip from
How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Where the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes?
Well, that’s the work of God. Your capacity to love grows 3 sizes and
keeps growing from there.
Romans 5:5 (NLT)
For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy
Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
loved the world so much that He gave His Son. Jesus loved us so much
that He gave Himself. It was love for us that motivated Jesus to come
to earth… to love the poor, the forgotten, the marginalized. And it’s
His love working through us that can motivate us, as well.
are you going to do this Christmas to make a difference in this world?
How are you going to love all? Even beyond the circle of your own
family and friends, how can you love all?
One of the things
we’ve been suggesting here is that you participate in our Christmas Eve
Offering. Our Christmas Eve Offering this year is going to go toward
providing access to a source of clean water for villages in Sierra
Leone. So we’ve been talking about how there are close to a billion
people on this planet that don’t have clean water. And that just leads
to all kinds of diseases and poverty.
So in spending less on
meaningless gifts, we’ve been encouraging you to give toward this
significant offering that can literally save lives. If you’re not going
to be here Christmas Eve but would still like to participate, you can
use one of these “My Christmas Offering” envelopes, put your gift
inside, and place it in the Offering Box.
compassion for all the people who are suffering because of the lack of
clean water, I think this is a very practical and important way to
express the love of God to our world.
Take a look at this video…
VIDEO – Living Water Christmas Promo