Yesterday, as part of our youth group reunion, several of us gathered in our home church for the early service. It was a wonderful experience to worship together with old friends. The last time I had been in the sanctuary was for my Dad’s funeral on June 4. I think both of my parents would have been so happy that this reunion took place. They both invested their time, their love and their home in the lives of the youth in our church.

For the last 24 hours I have been processing how my parents shared their lives with our youth group, and I heard from so many how the sharing of their love meant so much to so many. I am so grateful for them, and I am noticing that I haven’t done the same thing as an adult. It’s not important that I have the same calling as they did; but we all do have a calling, and if we’re willing to open our hearts to where the Holy Spirit is leading us, it will be revealed.

Yesterday, I was sorry to miss my weekend at my church as a door greeter and the beginning of a new series from Pastor Tim. But I was so happy one of my friends from out of town asked if some could meet together for the 8:30 service. I was in the place to continue to my fellowship with life-long Christian friends, and I needed to hear the message that Pastor Scott gave on discipleship. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20) This is the Great Commission – what all Christ followers are called to do – spread the Word of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32) The truth only sets you free if your heart is open and you accept the truth within your heart. I find in my daily Scripture reading if I’ve asked the Lord to show me what He wants to tell me, I have opened my heart to His Words. When I don’t stop and do that first, I am not taking the words into my heart; I’m not abiding in His Word. As a Christ follower, remaining faithful to His teachings IS opening my heart to abide in His Word.

Jesus was very clear about the most defining mark of a true disciple: “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) 

I have a friend who is a marketing genius, and his posts are simple and direct, but always to achieve the final results. One thing he brings up over and over again is being attractive in delivering your message. He’s not talking about being drop-dead gorgeous – he’s talking about HOW you deliver your message. Are you telling others they are wrong (making them defensive) or are you delivering your message of truth in a calm and loving way that makes people want to listen? I believe that is what the apostle Paul is trying to tell the Galations: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galations 5:6)

James is cautioning believers against favoring some people over others. We are to love everyone. “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (James 2:8)

John tells us that showing the love that comes from God to others is the way to show others who God is. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)

And then Peter gives us a summary of discipleship: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Pastor Scott ended the sermon with a question. How do I know I am experiencing the life-changing presence of God? One thing. How deep is my love for others?