I was struck this week as I was changing the church sign after watching the news that religious terrorist had murdered 12 writers of a satirical newspaper in France. I started out with the message, “Jesus is still the Best Hope of our World”. But after I put that sign on the board and stepped back to look at, I realized something was wrong. Jesus isn’t the “best hope” for our world, Jesus is the only hope for our world! Now that looked a lot better. Jesus really isn’t one of the selections that the world can choose to make things better. Jesus is the only solution to the heart sin problem that people have. In a world filled with religious hatred and terrorism, Jesus represents the God of love who sent Jesus to die for us and raise again so we can be saved. Jesus reveals the heart of God for humanity.
John in his 1st letter reminds us of God’s love when writes, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us, God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this; that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment, because as He is, so are we in the world”, (v. 16-17, NKJV). We’ve seen this concept earlier in v. 8 where John writes “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”, (NKJV). You could never justify murder in the name of God in the true Christian faith. Now I know historically “Christians” have murdered people in Jesus’ name but they could never ever find biblical New Testament support for their actions. Jesus teaches a totally different concept and world view in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel. We read “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (5:43-44, NKJV). If Jesus is accepted in Islam as a prophet how can these random acts of terrorism be reconciled with the teachings of the prophet Jesus? In fact, how can you reconcile any of Jesus’ words and actions with terrorists and murderers’ actions?
John teaches us that “God is love”, which is exactly what Jesus modeled by His life and sacrifice. God’s love is essentially boundless and incomparable. It is incomprehensible that God should love us in the manner that He does. There is great communion between the God of love and the loving soul. Living in the sphere of love results in an abiding fellowship and a firm confidence in the Day of Judgment.
That confidence is also seen in loving one another. You can’t have this confidence if you have hate in your heart. Listen once more to what John says in the 4th chapter of his 1st epistle when we writes, “If someone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (v. 20 NKJV). I know this is in a Christian context but that’s my point- “Jesus is still the only hope for our world?” For He alone is the one who can so transform our hearts so we can love our enemies. He modeled this for us as He hung dying on the cross and when He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing”! How are you doing in loving your enemies and revealing the hope of humanity through your actions?
Pastor Rich Sivo