• Matt Beaney

#339 – LOVE IS A LIGHT (29/4/21)


On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding love.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

It’s most easy to love people who are most like us. This world is divided into many ‘tribes’ but they all have some kind of glue that creates loyalty. In our passage, we see that ‘tax collectors’ love other tax collectors. ‘Pagans’ love other pagans. We could go on adding other groupings. These groups operate along the worldly principle of ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.’ The church should not be like this! We are not to imitate the world, but the Father and the Son. Alfred Plummer wrote,

“To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is divine.”


RESPONSE

Earlier in this Sermon on the Mount Jesus had defined our purpose as ‘salt and light’,

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

If we fail to love we have lost our saltiness and let our light go out. Love for our enemies shows what the Father is like and what the gospel message is all about.


COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDS

Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


Suggested opener/Ice-breaker

When have you ever received undeserved love in your life?


Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding love.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Jesus is correcting the stance of the Jewish teachers In His day. They had come to believe that it was right to ‘love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. Of course, this is an attitude to which every sinful human heart is prone. Sin distorts our capacity to love. We search for reasons not to love those ‘outside'. Our hearts are creative and find reasons not to love. We often have constrained love - love with boundaries.


We love through prayer

Jesus makes it clear that praying for people is a powerful way that we can love them. Praying for our ‘enemies’ is not praying for ourselves about our enemies - although this is good to do of course. Praying for our enemies is praying for them! It’s praying a blessing or forgiving people even through our pain.


We love through action

The Father continues to give good gifts to every human being on the planet. No matter how evil a person is, they are blessed with ‘common grace’- the sun, rain, breath and every good thing they have.

Christians take on the family-likeness. Loving people, particularly our enemies, reveals if we are God’s children. Those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit gain a new ability to love those who are difficult to love.

Like learning to play the guitar, love is not learnt in bed! Love grows as we act in obedience to Jesus’ command through faith. If we will seek to love others - seek the best for others - we will grow in our love for them.


Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?

2. How does or could you love through prayer?

3. We are called to have a 'seek first' attitude to growing in love. In what ways do you believe that the Spirit would want you to express love in the various contexts that He has put you?

4. How does a daily practice of meditating on the gospel - God's mercy to us in Christ - help one to remain loving to those who don't deserve it?


Serving, Investing and inviting

Our unconditional love shows the gospel and makes a way for it.

1) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?

2) Serving, investing and inviting is built on love. It's hard to do and we'll only do it if we love people! How are you planning to serve invest and invite?




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