Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Semantics of Mercy and Grace (3)

(part 2)

The lawyer had asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He wanted to know if there were some people we could ignore in the command to love. Jesus did not answer that question. The clear understanding is that everyone is included in the command to love. Instead, Jesus showed us how to love. He didn’t differentiate between who is my neighbor and who isn’t; he showed who is a real believer and who is merely religious.

The law does not just exist to convict us of our sin; it points us to the life God intended. We are to live guided by love. The Old Testament does not just consist of the law; it is also a record of the way God has intervened in history, out of love for His people.

As followers of Jesus, loved by God, we need to BE good neighbors to all. We need to love. This brings us back to the issue of semantics. The title originally assigned to this sermon that became a series was, “Since God loves us we should respectfully consider others.” That is too tame. The Bible—the Gospel—demands more:

The difference between truly understanding and accepting God’s gift of salvation, and merely trying to follow a religious system people have created using Biblical passages, lies in the heart. When we have truly experienced the freedom of forgiveness we will begin to have a tremendous love for others. We cannot be saved from sin without experiencing compassion for those who are still prisoners. The life of those who have been forgiven is characterized by a love for God and a love for others. We don’t seek to do “enough,” we do everything in our power to help others find a way out of the slavery to sin.

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