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Full (by Jeff Hogan)

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We recently finished up a series at C3 called “Full”. Jeff talked about what it means to be full. The following is a brief excerpt from the series where he talked about service. (These are Jeff’s words, not mine, and I appreciate them very much):

What exactly does it mean to love someone? How do you know that someone loves you? How does someone know that you love them?

One way is to say it – you can declare love to someone. But the other way to identify love is to show it. Love gets substance when it’s demonstrated, and that demonstration will often speak louder than the words.

I think real fullness is missing from many Christ followers today because over time we’ve taken a CRITICAL, NON-NEGOTIABLE part of our life in Christ and we’ve made it OPTIONAL. That non-negotiable part is SERVING.

WHY we serve:

We serve because the EXAMPLE was set by JESUS HIMSELF. (Philippians 2:3-18)

While Jesus was here on earth His nature was to serve – even when it cost Him deeply. If we want to be like Christ, we will serve. Remember also that the definition of “Lord” is “Master”. If Jesus is our master, doesn’t it make sense that we would be the servants?

We serve because it actively demonstrates a LIVING FAITH. (James 2:14-17)

What kind of faith is condemned in verse 14? (What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?) Saving faith?

No. This verse is all about dead faith. Bible scholar Warren Wiersbe describes it this way:

“People with dead faith substitute words for deeds. They know the correct vocabulary for prater and testimony, and can even quote the right verses from the Bible, but their walk does not measure up to their talk. They think that their words are as good as works, and they are wrong.” (Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 864)

What he is describing is “faith” purely of the mind (or in the mind).

James never intends to suggest that Christ followers should reject faith and try to be saved by works. Action without faith may be productive or even helpful in this world, and may do much “good” here. But it will not even remotely bring salvation. We are saved by grace, through faith in baptism, as outlined by Paul and demonstrated in the book of Acts.

But living things are characterized by action. They grow, change and develop. The only way an organism can be totally inactive, is if it is dead. If authentic faith is alive, it too will be characterized by action.

James is saying that deeds/works/actions are completely inseparable from the authentic faith that motivates them. The only way to remove action is to remove authentic faith and replace it with something else. Like, say, dead faith.

If we want “life, and life to the full,” like Jesus described, we have to act on our faith.

It’s not optional. It’s a matter of life and death.

The beauty of this whole simple Scriptural thing, is that it’s a cycle. As you love God, it opens up opportunities to live in community, and ways to serve the world. But as you live in community and serve the world, the ground is fertile for growing your love for God.

I’ll make no promises of what God might do for you, nor can I predict what He may ask of you as you follow.

But I will say that God has always been about transformation. People that surrender to Him get new life. And wherever He finds a believer willing to yield to His will, listen to His Word, and follow His way, He starts to transform that believer and accomplish amazing things, both in and through that life.

So, do you want to be full? Because, He’s ready.

No longer can we afford to stand on the cliffs high above the cultural mudslide, chastising people for not climbing out of the mess to come up to the higher ground. No longer can we feel content throwing our heroic lifelines of propositions to save…

No, it is time for Christian leaders, tethered to the lifeline of God’s Spirit and the community of faith, to gather up courage and plunge into the swirling mess of the cultural flow. Just as Paul said he did in Corinth, we too must “try to find common ground with everyone so that [we] might bring them to Christ.” We must emulate the God who dove right into the sewer of life himself in the body of Jesus. And we must reawaken his dream — God’s dream of swimming this rescue mission on earth through a new Body — the Body of his church — Christ’s Body re-presented. ~ John Burke (No Perfect People Allowed)

The least of these…

Sorry folks. No ridiculous or silly post today. I’ll probably post something silly later today on The Fellowship of the Traveling Smartypants, but I really want to share some good stuff that Jeff talked about in church yesterday.

I’ll begin with a command from Jesus found in Matthew 22:

36″Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So, practically speaking, what does the phrase “Love your neighbor as yourself” mean? The following is taken from Jeff’s sermon yesterday:

James 1:22-25, 27:

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Matthew 25: 31-46:

31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

What does this Scripture teach us about Christian responsibility?

Who are “the least of these brothers of mine”?

James 2:14-17:
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Two important characteristics in people who put their faith into action:

Someone who puts their faith into action has their eyes open.
Someone who puts their faith into action has their hands ready.

I missed Jeff’s sermon, as it was Tia and my turn to teach the kids this week. But since I’ve had conversations with Jeff on the subject, I think I understand where he’s coming from. He also shared this story: Frozen Indifference from Charlie LeDuff of the Detroit News. It is as outrageously infuriating as it is heartbreaking. And if I were to tell you that it wasn’t more than a little convicting, I would be lying to you.

Sorry to be such a downer on a Monday (especially all you Cardinal fans out there), but of the multitudes of sins I will commit, I don’t want to start my day right off the bat with apathy and indifference.