First of all, I still marvel at the strength and fortitude shown by Leon Barnes to address our family after such a distressing and painful week. It’s obvious to me that it’s not because he has to or is made to, but because he wants to, he feels compelled to. In our discussions recently on sharing the gospel, I’m reminded how transformative the good news is and how NOT sharing the love of God should hurt us more than getting up the nerve to share it. What are we waiting for?
Yesterday’s message doubled down on this idea as well. Leon’s words on righteousness stuck with me yesterday. Or rather, we might say that Scripture speaks very strongly about UN-righteousness, which Leon described as not simply the acts of doing wrong, but also the vacancy of doing right.
History is a powerful teacher, and certainly over the years our churches have historically taught long on the sins of mankind, the wages of sin, and what actions make up a sinful lifestyle. It’s possible that this emphasis may have even distracted us from seeing that our call to righteousness is actually asking for much more than simply removing the undesired actions from our lives.
James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
As Paul suggests in Romans, James recognizes that “sin” or unrighteousness may not only comprise of those unwanted behaviors but also the lack of good coming from each person’s heart.
Our LifeStage groups discussed the core value of “Disciple” this week, and I think the words of Jesus echo what being a disciple means. He doesn’t say, “you will be known by the good face you put on when you gather together.” He doesn’t say, “you will be known as my disciples by how many sins you DON’T commit or the wrongs you don’t do.” He doesn’t say that disciples will be known for who they DON’T associate with or for what activities they DON’T partake in. Jesus, for whom each of us follows, says, “for they will know that you are my disciples by how you LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”
There is an assumption then addressed by Jesus here in John 13 and it is similar to that of Paul in Romans 1 and Romans 7 and then by James in James 4. The assumption is that you are in the wrong if you are not doing right by one another. Jesus wants his followers to be distinguished by their LOVE, by doing RIGHT, by being made RIGHTEOUS.
None of us are perfect. We all have things that we have had to remove from our lives or things that still weigh us down from being able to realize the fullness of the life God calls us to. And it’s that life, that ABUNDANT, FULL LIFE which is what we are called to live, a life where (as disciples of Jesus) we are known by our LOVE.
• Who is someone in your life whom you need to bless instead of doing nothing?
• Are you showing love to others in a way that people KNOW you are a disciple of Jesus?
• What is one good thing that you’ve felt like you should be doing that you could start doing this week?