Today, as we celebrate the wedding of James and Jade at our church, our thoughts are inevitably concentrated on love. ‘Love and marriage… go together like a horse and carriage‘, the old song says, but in our modern society, that is sadly not true. Moreoever, our views of love are often very romanticised and not founded in reality or in truth.
The Bible affirms that God is love, and therefore all true love is rooted in Him. Marriage is His idea, giving love the security and stability of a covenant, founded on promises (vows) freely given. Love has many facets, however. It’s seen in the excitement of a wedding, but it’s seen also in the pain of the delivery of a child. It’s seen in the joy of celebration, but also in the grief at the graveside when we mourn the loss of a loved one. Love is not always plain sailing; there are storms to navigate in any marriage.
Michael TImmis talks about the different facets of love as he considers the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:2-23: ‘Joy is love rejoicing; peace is love at rest; patience is love waiting; kindness is love interacting; goodness is love initiating; faithfulness is love keeping its word; gentleness is love sympathising and self-control is love resisting temptation.” Our love needs to be infused with God’s love if it is to have these enduring qualities.
We are very excited about the forthcoming wedding on Saturday 22nd September at 3 p.m. Last night, we had a wedding rehearsal.
Practising the vows
Today, preparations for the food will start in earnest (watch out, supermarkets!) and tomorrow (Thursday), we will be praying for James and Jade at our prayer meeting (7:30 p.m.) On Friday from 3.30 p.m. we’ll be setting up the church and community room (ready for the reception), ready for Saturday. Please note there will be no coffee morning on Saturday because of these preparations.
The good news is that on Saturday 29th September we will be hosting the Macmillan Coffee morning from 10 a.m. until 12 noon. Do come along to support that and raise money for this worthwhile charity.
Just after His resurrection and just before His ascension into heaven, Jesus gave His disciples what is commonly known as ‘the great commission’ (Matt 28:16-20), the command to go into all the nations and make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He had commanded. This commission was initially given to the eleven disciples who had followed Jesus throughout His lifetime, but all disciples are now commissioned in the same way.
This task seems daunting, but Matt 28:18 reminds us that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, and therefore this task carries with it all the authority and power of the Godhead. Because of Jesus’s authority, we can go in His strength and power.
The enemy tries many tactics to prevent us from obeying this task. Universalism is one such pitfall: if we believe all roads lead to God eventually, then we have no incentive to make disciples of anyone. The lack of interest in spiritual matters in the West also leads us to conclude that there is no point seeking to make disciples because people are not interested. But we cannot get away from the fact that this last command of Jesus needs to be our motivating and propelling force. Discipleship is about more than ‘getting saved’; it means encouraging, teaching and building up those who proclaim faith in Christ. Discipleship and baptism go hand in hand, with baptism the outward sign of what God has done inwardly (see Rom 6:1-3).
We need to see people saved and baptised. We need to be making new disciples. The average age of our church is about 53: we have to be constantly reaching out to people so that we do not wither away and die without seeing new disciples come into the church. We have to be active and serious about our commission. Salvation comes in God’s way and God’s timing, but He has made it plain that now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:2) Our primary calling and purpose in life should be to fulfil this task of making disicples, baptising disciples and teaching them to obey all Jesus has said.
This morning we looked at the blessing of unity (Eph 4:1-6) and discovered that this is a great blessing (Ps 133:1-3) but is also something which requires effort and perseverance on our part (Eph 4:3). Unity is crucial because God is one (Deut 6:4) and because it is a witness to God’s nature (John 17:11, 21) and to His perfect love. However, if we are to be united to people who are vastly different to us, we need to follow the example of Jesus in being completely humble, gentle, patient and kind and in bearing with each other in love. (Eph 4:32)
Be Completely Humble
Humility and gentleness are spiritual fruit which the world does not value. Jesus spoke about this in Matt 11:28-30 and gave the disciples a practical example of this when He washed their feet. (John 13:1-5) We have to learn to serve as He did (Matt 26:25-28) if we are to be like Him.
Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and is a sign of maturity. Unlike the toddler who throws a tantrum every time it is defied or has to wait for something, patience is learned through the trials of life (James 1:2-4) We are all individuals in the church, but God has placed us together in His body (1 Cor 12:18-20) and we all have a function. Learning patience with one another celebrates the diversity in the body and reflects God’s love for each one of us.
Bearing With One Another In Love
Ironside paraphrased this verse, ‘lovingly putting up with all that is disagreeable in other people.’ Often, we want to change people and try to do this through nagging (see Prov 21:19), but God calls us to accept others as they are and to love them despite their faults and mistakes. God wants us to act towards each other: with kindness, with compassion, with forgiveness, bearing with one another in love, not just with a sigh and a rolling of the eyes and a grumbling heart and grudging acceptance, but with a lavishness and expansive love which simply goes on loving. The Message version of Eph 4:3 says ‘not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.’ We are called to take in God’s love, compassion and forgiveness and then pour those things out to other people. Love has to be evident: ‘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) When we love each other, we can live like family and be sure that God will bless us with the unity that comes from His divine love.
Already the mornings are darker, the air is a little chiller and September heralds the arrival of autumn. Those warm, sunny days of summer seem a long time ago, but the updated displays in our community room remind us of the ‘Summer Fun’ we had during the school holidays and the wealth of creativity we saw at the Dearne Community Arts’ Festival at the end of those holidays.
The ‘Love Where You Live’ monopoly game made at Furlong Road Methodist Church, along with photos.
The ‘Love Where You Live’ button map made at Goldthorpe Pentecostal Community Church and celebrated at the arts’ festival:
Photos from the arts’ festival are also on display:
We had two birthdays to celebrate last Sunday.