Follow up on Rachel’s challenge from last week: (i) have you invited someone/been invited by someone you are not close to for fellowship over a coffee/meal at home? Rumi and I accepted an invitation to visit and connect with CIC’s Risto’s family. She left us with challenges from the four questions: Am I passionate for more? Am I moving forward? What do I need to leave behind? What is next for me? Anyone who would like to share what they tried to follow through these questions in their lives last week? I am passionate about serving the Lord in teams; not just me or Rumi and I – but in teams so that we can grow together.
IF … THEN … ELSE is called a logic statement in many fields of science and engineering You have every reason to be comfortable because this is simply a language for decision making – and the answers are either YES or NO – with YES denoted as 1 and NO denoted as 0 However, this statement forms the basis of a number of industries and multi-billion dollar semiconductor businesses specializing in building logic circuits One of the most common interactions with this logic statement is when you driving your car or riding on a bus! You will surely have to wait for the IF … THEN … ELSE condition to give a YES for your lane to get the Green light An response is required to the IF question before deciding what to do for THEN. ELSE needs to know the response from THEN and IF before executing. Can you imagine if you any of the traffic light gave no response? Or, if any gave a “whatever” response and say all went GREEN at some instance? Or, say if all were to be RED for one hour whilst you wait? Like every part of the Bible, today’s passage is asking our hearts to give a response. We each have a choice. Could give a “whatever” response, or not give a response at all. But remember, we can deny someone the chance to experience the Kingdom of God. Last week Rachel challenged through the questions: Am I passionate for more? Am I moving forward? What do I need to leave behind? What is next for me? We need to give a response, can’t continue waiting at the traffic light!
Read the scriptures
(a) Have you gotten anything at all out of following Christ? (b) Has His love made any difference in your life? /Do you love me enough to want to help me? (c) Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? (d) Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? (e) Do you have a heart? (f) Do you care? Paul is challenging the Philippians through these questions. These questions are asking for a response from our hearts. Take two minutes to decide on two responses to each of these questions for yourself.
Paul challenges us that these should be the actions to follow the decisions from his IF statements. These are actions that challenge us to sometimes put aside our preferences for the sake of agreeing with brothers and sisters so that someone may experience the Kingdom of God. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to be able to love everyone, regardless of whether they meet our criteria for being loved or not! You may have every reason to think that your thoughts, ideas, preferences, etc., are better than everyone else. There may be every earthly reason to agree to disagree. However, for the purposes of the Kingdom of God, can we please be willing to sacrifice our valued positions and ask the Holy Spirit to help us be of one heart, mind and purpose?
(1) ELSE indicates a choice, in case the previous condition wasn’t met. (2) However, in the Kingdom of God we can’t afford not to meet any of the IF and ELSE conditions! The good news is that, all we simply need to do to meet the condition is having a heart that wants to, even though we may not be there yet. (3) In the Kingdom of God, there is no alternative BUT to love one another. There is no response to any of the IF and THEN questions that gives us an option for not agreeing with each other. We can’t afford not to be of one heart, mind and purpose. (4) The Bible message is summarized in these two verses: Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) Words of Jesus in response to the question by some law expert: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (5) I believe that this is our calling – living in His presence whilst doing John 13:34-35. This is the core of Christian living – loving one another, and intentionally allowing that love to infect the unsaved around us so that they too may be drown to His saving grace.
This message of loving each other regardless of differences is against everything the world teaches us If anything, society around us teaches how to preposition ourselves better than everyone else so that we stand out. It seems like we have to be in competition all our lives! That mindset of comparison and competition is so pervasive that (i) parents can end up comparing their children, (ii) teachers comparing their students, (iii) work managers comparing their team members, (iv) believers comparing themselves with each other, (v) churches comparing themselves with each other. It easily turns into a mindset of judgment because love is not allowed to flow equally to all!
Competition: there are several world stages for athletes to excel – Olympics is one of them. Athletes spend hours, days and months practicing and preparing to go and aim for a medal. This is a photo of a 5 000 meter middle distance Olympic heat. Only the first 5 to cross the line in every heat would make it to the next round. These two crossed the line last. Anyone remembers when this was, and who these two are, including their nationalities? Illustration: Nikki Hamblin (NZ) and Abbey D’Agostino (US) intentionally pausing their races to help each other The modern Olympic Games began in Athens, Greece, on 6 April 1896. Nikki and Abbey were awarded the Fair Play Olympics medal, which was only the 17th time these medals were awarded over this 120 year Olympics history. At the Brazil Olympics, while the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps won races to add to their enormous personal medal tallies, these two ladies were recognized for exhibiting “the values of Fair Play and Sportsmanship”. In their press conference one of them said that she could have ignored the other and continued with the run and possibly crossed the line tens of seconds earlier, but showing compassion and helping some are the things that really matter! Beautiful story – what a challenge!
The best thing I can do is help make your way easier Love one another through our actions, and only use words when necessary Illustration: This is a 3 minute version of a testimony I shared in October. - I came across a rare job advert wherein my current employer was looking for a person with postgraduate qualifications in a specialized area of applied physics, including several years of experience managing nuclear radiation safety facilities. - After some thought, discussion with Rumi and prayer, I decided I would apply as the requirements of the positions were an almost unbelievable perfect match for me! - In addition, a long-time friend and former co-worker from the ANU had worked in that area for about 5 years, before moving on to another dept. I therefore decided get in touch with him, to get his views on how the team culture there is before submitting my application. - His response was that he had seen the advert too, and he too was in the process of applying for it because things had not worked out well with his new employer, and he was stressed with things at home too. - After reading his emails I immediately felt the Holy Spirit tell me that I needed to step aside, stop applying for the job, and rather help him – as I had more experience both technically and management-wise than him. The message was to give everything I had to support him. - I therefore helped him with his application, and also with preparing for his interview. - Struggles: I struggled with the thoughts of how about me Lord – what becomes of me? A close friend at work was very unhappy and had a few words to say to me after I told him that I had decided to step aside and not apply for that job! - Result: Late October he got offered the job, but not at the level they had advertised for. They judged him as lacking in the management aspects, but put him to act in the position, so that he can have some experience to use it when they re-advertise it in about 6 months’ time! I have never heard of something like that – but I thanks Father and rejoiced with him. - We have caught up two times over the past two months. Last week he asked if we could have monthly catch-ups! I am keen on developing our relationship, and continue to pray for his salvation.
Read the scriptures
Jesus chose to lay aside his Heavenly privileges, came down to this earth, lived as a human being and died a sinner’s death on the cross. This was so that we may another chance, to let us have a go Danger of the trap of False Humility: (i) I could do it, but I would like to let you have a chance and help you do it the best you possibly can, (ii) disadvantage others by denying them an opportunity to have a go, (iii) people see us rather than Jesus, and (iv) we can’t produce disciples that way
Obedience definition (Oxford dictionary): the fact that people and animals do what they are told to do. There are so many voices competing for our obedience: our own lusts/pride/fear; people around; media/TV adverts; etc. Jesus chose to lay aside His glorious privileges and obeyed Father, to come down to this earth and live as a human being. The Bible passage we have just read says “He lived a selfless and obedient life, and died a selfless and obedient death.”
Read the scriptures
All creation bow down before Jesus Christ in worship We have an opportunity too through the same road – obedience! Like He did to Jesus Isaiah 55:3,5 “3Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 5Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendour.” Jesus chose to go through this path of obedience so that we may another chance. He let us have a go. May this become part of our lives too – in love letting and helping someone have a go, even though it may be at my expense.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 Discuss this questions in small groups
IF you’ve gotten anything at all out of
following Christ, IF his love has made any
difference in your life, IF being in a community
of the Spirit means anything to you, IF you
have a heart, IF you care - THEN do me a
favour: Agree with each other, love each other,
be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way
to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the
top. Put yourself aside, and help others get
ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your
own advantage. Forget yourselves long
enough to lend a helping hand.
IF .… THEN …. ELSE ….
• Got anything from Christ?
• His loved changed you?
• Value me as your bro./sis.?
• Your heart sympathetic?
• You care?
IF .… THEN …. ELSE ….
• Agree with each other
• Love one other
• One heart, mind, purpose
• Help others get ahead
IF .… THEN …. ELSE ….
• No choice but to love!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have
loved you, so you must love one another. By this
everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love
one another.” John 13:34-35
• Against world teaching
• Demand our rights
• Love one another
• Your interests ahead of mine
• Me advancing you
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus
thought of himself. He had equal status with
God but didn’t think so much of himself that
he had to cling to the advantages of that
status no matter what. Not at all. When the
time came, he set aside the privileges of deity
and took on the status of a slave, became
human! Having become human, he stayed
human. It was an incredibly humbling process.
He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he
lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a
selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind
of death at that – a crucifixion.
• Learn from Jesus
• Lay aside our privileges
• Help others have a go
• NOT false humility:
“serve” by doing everything
• Follow someone/something
o Chose to lay aside privileges
and obey Father
o Lived a selfless, obedient life
o Died a selfless, obedient death
Because of that obedience, God lifted
him high and honoured him far beyond
anyone or anything, ever, so that all
created beings in heaven and on earth –
even those long ago dead and buried –
will bow in worship before this Jesus
Christ, and call out in praise that he is
the Master of all, to the glorious honour
of God the Father.
Obedience unlocks God’s favor
To Jesus Christ:
• All creation bow to Jesus
• Nations will come to us
• God the Father is glorified
So what ….??
How can I:
o Cheer another believer up?
o Love enough to want to help them?
What privileges do I need to forgo?
Obstacles to obeying Father’s voice?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I
have loved you, so you must love one another. By this
everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you
love one another.” John 13:34-35