Andrew Fountain - Love - Our New Identity


We always live out of our character

  • Our character is shaped by:
  1. our core identity
  2. our beliefs about the best way to live
  3. our experiences, from other people and from God
  • Once read a story of a boy who had three pet rats, and a pet cat
    • He decided they ought to be able to get along and he would train them to
    • So he made the cat sit and watch the rats run around
    • but as soon as he was out of the room...
  • Very cross with the cat, but he had no right to be
    • That is what a cat is, it is its character
  1. First we will look at some Scriptures in 1 John
  2. Then we will have a lot of stories and practical examples

1. The character of a loving person in 1 John 2 & 3

It’s about core identity—born of God

  1. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
  1. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
  2. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
  3. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
  • One of the main areas that this new identiy shows up is God’s love inside us, loving others

God’s love inside us, loving others

  1. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
  2. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
  3. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother....
  1. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
  • notice the way he reasons here:
    • He doesn’t say, “love one another or you will die and not live”
    • But, the reason we know we have God’s life is that it shows itself in love
    • In fact, it is a major cause for assurance:

Assurance 1 John 3:19

  1. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
  • So the first point about character is that it is something we inherit from our father
    • boy in the youth club who always mumbled. (then I met he dad!)
  • So the first point:
    • A. It is about our core identity—we are born of God
  • Anne told the story of The Redemption of General Butt Naked

B. Our beliefs about the best way to live

  • Everyone always does what they believe is in their best interests!
  • Did Jesus think it was in his own best interests to go to the cross?
  • A core part of the Christian life is a trust in God that it is worth obeying him
  • So, back to the text:
  • Everyone always does what they believe is in their best interests!
    • Is that always true?
    • What if you are forced to do something against your will? (like handing over your wallet to the man with the gun)
      • You still think that it is in your best interests
    • What about the ex-alcoholic who decides he can just go and have one drink
      • and then he decides to have another —does he believe it is in his best interests? (at that moment, yes!)
  • Did Jesus think it was in his own best interests to go to the cross?
    • yes, because he believed that the father would raise him up
    • for the “joy that was set before him” (=us !!)
    • Satan’s ultimate and total defeat and the destruction of evil
  • A core part of the Christian life is a trust in God that it is worth obeying him
    • that our best interests lie in doing his will
    • Is this selfish? (I once had a long debate with a philosophy student about this)
      • Not really, because our best interests, others’ best interests and God’s best interests all align
      • to obey God optimizes all three
    • It is not actually wrong to seek what is good for us (God has made us that way)
      • What is wrong is if we don’t trust God with the answer
  • So, back to the text:

1 John 4

  1. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
  2. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
  3. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
  • Giving ourselves in love is the way to life
  • Giving ourselves in love is the way to life
    • Jesus said that if a seed died, it would bring forth fruit
    • If we lay down our life, then God will raise us up again
    • Image of a sump
      • Do you trust him? —that is really what it comes down to
  • What God wants us to do more than anything else is simply to trust him
    • This trust is counted as righteousness
  • But what does trust look like? It looks like following the path that Jesus showed us in self-denying love

1 John 3 —it really pleases Jesus

  1. and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
  2. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
  • Does that mean he won’t answer our prayers if we don’t love one another ??
    • No, but loving others will take us to that place God wants us to be in where he has very good things for us
    • e.g. Mother says to boy: I want you to clean your room, and make sure to clean under the bed
      • Unknow to him, she has put a present for him under the bed
      • In the act of obedience, we position ourselves to get the best gifts from God?
  • Do you really believe this?
    • Whether or not you do is key!
    • Your belief in the character of God and his heart for you when he tells you to do things

So far... Character shaped by:

  1. It is about our core identity—we are born of God
  2. Our beliefs about the best way to live
  • character is also formed from experiences:
  1. Our experiences, from other people and from God
  • Our character is formed in a large part from our exerience
    • Jesus said “she loves much because she has been forgiven much”

1 John 4

  1. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
  2. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
  3. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God....
  1. We love because he first loved us.

2. What it means to have a Loving Character

  • The example of Jesus
  • Compassion: Mark 6:31, he said to his disciples, “Come away to an unihabited area and rest”
  • But a great crowd managed to follow him, and Jesus, even though exhausted, “had compassion on them”
  • A widow who’s only son had died, (Luke 7:13) We read that he had compassion and raised the son from the dead
  • He had humility, and even washed the disciples feet, and told us we were to do this
    • What does this mean? (some groups practice it as a ceremony)

2. What it means to have a Loving Character

  • Even on the cross, he spared a moment from saving the world to care for his mother
    • If anyone could say, “don’t bother me, I’m doing something important” it was Jesus on the cross!!!!
  • Finally, he suffered and died for us
    • The amazing thing is that he seems to think that this is something we should copy!
  • 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
  • The Emotional Bank Account
    • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Cory, p.188f

Six Major Deposits

  1. Understanding the Individual
  2. Attending to Little Things
  3. Keeping Commitments
  4. Clarifying Expectations
  5. Showing Personal Integrity
  6. Apologizing Sincerely when you make a Withdrawal
  • Some more comments about character:
    • Looking for opportunities
      • one of the things that most impressed me about my parents when I was growing up was how much they loved each other
      • They were constantly looking for opportu
    • Doing it “for Jesus”, the very best we can
      • Rember a teenage girl telling me that sometimes when she set the table, she would imagine that there was a great prince secretly watching her, and he would be pleased with her work and come in and sweep her away
    • Humility
      • Is it possible to be proud and loving at the same time?
      • essence of love is lifting up the other person
        • Not about “rights” and “fairness”
        • Think of others higher than ourselves
      • Etienne running for the door
    • Don’t just serve the important people
      • (Man who picked him up from the airport was always biggest problem)
    • Motivation is key
      • Crabb “I hope people are watching this”
      • Pharisees giving publically and praying on the street corners
      • values the person, not just a “scalp”

So far...

  1. Character shaped by:
    1. It is about our core identity—we are born of God
    2. Our beliefs about the best way to live
    3. Our experiences, from other people and from God
  2. What it means to have a Loving Character
  3. So how is this not a burden?

3. How is this not a burden?

  • 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
  • It’s already in you to love
  • It’s already in you to love
    • If Jesus is in you, then this love is in you!
  • Ok, Andrew, then if it is in me, why does it not always come out?
    • Streetcar tracks coverd with mud and dirt
    • You don’t need to build the tracks, but you might have to (with God’s strength) shift some dirt
    • You need to know where to find the tracks
  • Legalism and performance is when we try and make our own tracks —that is burdensome
    • My goal this evening is to encourage you that each of you already has the tracks
    • to help you find where they are
    • and convince you that it is in your own best interests to uncover them!
  • Everyone pray for 30 seconds and ask God to show you one person you can show more love to in this coming week
    • Let’s put it into practice the rest of the evening

Updated on 2011-09-13 by Andrew Fountain