Hi guys, pastor Steve here. Hope you are having a good day. Last week we had cell groups which are so precious. Ignite went really well on Friday. On Sunday the church was packed. The worship was thunderous. Ben and Hayley, back form China gave a short report of the work there. The Lord spoke powerfully through Luther about being a child of God; being loved by Him, having the authority of His name and the victory over sin through his forgiveness. It was a great morning, a great climax to the week. What about this week? What does God want to say to us this week?
Recently our son Ben and his wife Hayley and their daughter Evie had to fly back from China because of the Corona Virus. They decided to self-quarantine but had nowhere to stay as their house was rented out and they could not stay with anyone. Then Tess had a great idea. They could stay at our house and we would stay in the spare room at our son Sam’s house which was only across the road. A perfect solution. And that is what happened. It was a bit tricky at times for them and us as they had to stay in the house, and we needed to sort church stuff out from our room in Sam’s. But there was really no problem. It was a done deal. Why was that? Well, that’s easy. They are our family. We love them. We want to help, and this was the least we could do. Would I have been as keen if it had been someone I had never met? Probably not. What about if they had needed to stay in our house for 6 months? Would we have been prepared to stay at Sam’s house for that length of time. Well… probably, if the need was big enough. But if they were strangers, would I have done that? Probably not to be honest. Most of us are happy to sacrifice to help people but we draw the line somewhere. And that usually depends on how close our relationship is with them, or on whether we feel they deserve the help.
The question came to me: ‘how far would you go to help someone you were not close to? How far would you go to help someone who was a criminal and violent person?’ What would you give up? What would you suffer?
The Bible makes a quiet little statement that says: ‘While we were sinners Christ died for us.’ Let’s look at that. Jesus gave up his Godhead (Philippians 2) He gave up His rights, his desires, his freedom, his very life for us. He suffered rejection, abuse, violence, betrayal, torture, hatred, persecution, separation from his father for us. He gave absolutely everything for you and me. We were not in his family.
We were not relatives or friends. The bible says we were sinners, criminals, enemies of God. We actually deserved death as we were criminals. There was nothing to commend us or make a claim for us. There was no justification or excuse. The thought comes again: ‘How far would you go to help someone you were not close to? How far would you go to help someone who was a criminal and violent person?’
I thought of what Jesus suffered for me and ask you this question: would you be arrested and put on trial for me; a criminal and sinner? Would you be stripped and viciously beaten for me? Would you have a crown of thorns jammed into your skull for me? Would be have the skin torn off your back with a barbed whip for me? Would you carry a cross in agony up a hill for me? Would you have your hands and feet nailed to a cross for me? Would you carry the sin and sickness of the world in your body for me? Would you die naked and beaten to a pulp on that cross for me? How far would you have gone? Where would you have said enough? I know that I would not have made it. I would probably have given up early on. But this is what Jesus did for you and me. He went the whole way. We gave up a short time for Ben and Hayley to stay at our house because we love them, and they are family; no problem. It was a done deal. Jesus gave up his very life for you and me because he loves us; no problem. It was a done deal. What amazing love! What sacrifice! What a cost! That is how precious you are to him today. That is how valued you are today. That is how important you are today. He gave it all because you were worth it all. That should make you feel so affirmed and loved.
Now, here is the thing. He gave up all that for you. What are you going to give up for him today? He went all the way for you. How far are you going to go for him today? What do I mean by that? Well, will you let go of your own plans, agenda, preferences and desires today? Will you set yourself to serve him and do his will, follow his plans and agenda, take his preferences and fulfil his desires today? There’s a blessing and a challenge for us this week. We see how great his love is for us. We see how far he went. Wow! But then we ask ourselves: ‘How far will I go for him this week?’ Will it be hard? Well, a little, that is what sacrifice is. But what about the results? I think we will find that every sacrifice we make for the Jesus we love will bring forth such blessing that it will be worth it all. Let’s go the extra mile for Jesus this week. He deserves it doesn’t he?