Fake NewsPastor Jerry Gillis - September 17, 2017
If you want to be discerning you will need a love that is growing.
Community Group Study Notes
- Love asks: what is true? what is good for my neighbor? how can I identify with others? As you ask these questions yourself, where are you finding the answers? What is God leading you to do in response?
- Interact with this statement: if you want to be discerning, you will need a love for Jesus that is growing. What can you do today to fuel your love for Jesus and His Word?
- What is the benefit of building relationships with others in the Body of Christ that are not like you? What action steps can you take towards building a relationship like that?
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. (Philippians 1:9)
Yeah. Fake news. You can't get away from it, can you? Everywhere you turn, every time you listen to anything, anywhere just about, you hear a conversation about fake news. It's come kind of into our popular culture of late through the President. When he was elected he had a press conference right, as the newly elected President of the United States and in that press conference, one of the press folks that was there asked a question and the President pointed at him and said "you're fake news". And he was referring I guess to him personally and to the network that he represented, rightly or wrongly. That's kind of how the term "fake news" got in to our popular culture, and is disseminated extraordinarily widely everywhere and we hear it over and over and over and over about it.
It's really hard to pin down the origin of the term "fake news". I tried, I didn't really solve that puzzle but it's hard to pin down the term. But fun fact for you, one of the first places that I could find where the term "fake news" was used was actually in a paper in 1891, and do you know where that paper was from? Buffalo, New York. That name of the paper was The Buffalo Commercial back in 1891. And actually what they were saying was that the readership of mass-printed media did not have an appetite for "fake news". My, how times have changed!
So, if we look at the idea of fake news, it's been around a really long time. Even if the phrase has entered into popular culture recently, the actual thing that is fake news has been around a very long time. You don't have to look hard in American history, particularly in American political history, you can go back for decades and decades and decades and decades and decades and you can see that coming to the fore. You don't have to go back very far into German history and in fact, if you're in kind of the WW1, WW2 time frame and you see the propaganda machine there you can see loads of fake news as well.
And if you wanted to push all the way back to the Roman Empire you could do that. In fact, if you wanted to go so far back to the assassination of Julius Caesar in that time frame in history, which is a really long time ago by the way, like the 50's BC, you could go back to that time frame where you remember Cassius and Brutus, et tu brute, you remember that, right? They assassinated Julius Caesar. Well, they were then combated or combated basically by Octavian and Mark Antony from the Roman Empire, who took them on at the Battle of Philippi, interestingly enough and conquered Cassius and Brutus at the Battle of Philippi and then, shortly thereafter there was a Triumvirate of power in the Roman Empire with Octavian, Mark Antony and then another guy that I always forget. I think it's like Marcus Lepidus or something. There's a chance that's fake news, but I think maybe that's the case, but it was something like that, I can't remember. But that Triumvirate, and then Marcus Lepidus, I could again, I could be making that up but I think that's maybe it, he got kind of out of the picture. And then there was just the two of them in power, Octavian and Mark Antony. But Octavian was really itching to be the man. And so he didn't really want Mark Antony around and so you know what he did? He sent out a campaign of fake news, that's exactly what he did. Here's what he said, he said I found Mark Antony's will and in his will he wants to be buried next to his girlfriend, Cleopatra. And he wants to be buried in Alexandria, Egypt next to Cleopatra. So the insinuation was is that what Mark Antony really wanted is for the Roman Empire to turn into a Greco-Egyptian Empire instead of staying a Roman Empire and man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him, and then Octavian kind of went and found him and then at his own hand, you know Mark Antony and Cleopatra ended up taking their own lives and so now Octavian is the man, he's got all the power and he now is renamed as the Caesar, Caesar Augustus. Which you remember if you read Luke 2, in the birth narrative of Jesus, it talked about a census that was taken in the time of Caesar Augustus, that's Octavian, who was that guy.
Now it was really interesting because when after you know, kind of the battle of Philippi and than after you know, Octavian became Caesar Augustus, he ended up going back to Philippi in about 31 BC and he rebuilt Philippi, made it a Roman military outpost. He put up images of himself all over, that's what Caesars did, they put images of themselves all over the place and put themselves on coins and everything, and there was this kind of weird Caesar-worship that was going on and all those kinds of things. So all of that was happening in Philippi at that time. So fake news actually was the bridge of power over which Octavian walked to be able to gather and consolidate all this power in the Roman Empire who became the Caesar and was ruling and having people worship him. Because he utilized fake news.
Now, I'm not trying to make a correlation to anything necessarily today, we have fake news all over the place and you know, what we would call kind of mass media. And certainly that shows itself maybe most fully in social media. For those of you who are on any social media platform, I'm not going to ask you to raise your hand in answer to this question because I'm not trying to embarrass anyone at all, but in your heart of hearts, in front of Jesus, at church, have you ever shared or forwarded something you came to find out was actually not true? That it was fake news. Again, I'm not asking you to identify yourselves, although all of you are now, by your faces, identifying yourselves. It can happen pretty easily, I'm sure, right, because in the age that we live in, attention spans are growing much shorter. And so when you see headlines that are click-bait that you want to believe, then maybe instead of reading the article and finding out if it's actually true, it just gets passed on and shared. Can you believe this, you ought to share this, and then you come to find out, you know, in your comment section when you look at it later, people are going, uh, fake news. Not real. And it kind of eats and erodes a little bit at our credibility.
Last year happened to be a banner year for fake news, congratulations America. It was a banner year because it was a presidential election and so that becomes like, that's like fake news nuclear size, right? So, some of the most famous fake news headlines of last year according to kind of data, were some of these, you can see them on here, hopefully you didn't share any of these: Pope Francis shocks the world and endorses Donald Trump for president and releases a statement. He did not, and that's fake and it was shared. It was one of the top five or ten most shared fake news stories of all of last year. Here's another one, it says: Isis leader calls for American-Muslim voters to support Hillary Clinton. Yeah, that also didn't happen. Here's the next one from the Free Patriot, whatever that is. They always have these great names, right, like I'm for America, I'm making up news. FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in apparent murder suicide. Also did not happen, completely untrue. Here's another one. This was the most popular, by the way, of last year. The most popular political headline that was fake news. Obama signs executive order banning the Pledge of Allegiance in schools nationwide. And of course they put, Hillary's looking on going... Like people are just showing them like we hate the Pledge of Allegiance, right? And of course, you're passing that on while your kids are saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school.
Nonetheless, so those are all fake news stories, right? And it wasn't just fake news like in political news, it was also fake news in just general news as well. In fact, the most shared, I think it had, this one had over two million shares and likes and all that kind of stuff, the most shared fake news story of last year, I'm embarrassed to say this, was about a woman who won the lottery, who then commenced to go into her boss's office and relieve herself on his desk. Yeah, fake, didn't happen and people were sharing it like crazy. Maybe because it was like, you know, people were like "if I won the lottery that's what I would do, tell you right now! I would stick it to the man! If I win the lottery, man, more power to her, I'm sharing this everywhere!" 'Cuz that's what Jesus would do. You do know that I'm kidding, right, Jesus wouldn't do that. Everybody clear? Right? That was fake news, right? He wouldn't do that.
Oh man, so Western Ontario University, our friends to the north of the border of us, Western Ontario University did a study about fake news and they came up and talked about, in their research, talked about the different brands of fake news that there are. So they talked about kind of the first brand is just the intentionally deceptive, right? They are creating fake news to further an agenda, it's not true, never has been true, they just are doing it because they want to further an agenda, right? So, that's one branch of fake news.
But there's another branch of fake news that's actually what they call misunderstood satire. So, if you're on any of these, I'm not recommending them, by the way, but things like The Onion, or The Daily Mash or those kinds of things, they're satire, they're satire sites, and there's Christian ones too, like the Babylon Bee and all that stuff. And then people end up taking these headlines, right, and then they're sharing them and they're angry about them and you kind of want to go back and go hey, this is kind of a, it's a satire magazine, they're just messing with you. It's basically like watching the Jon Stewart or Trevor Noah show. I mean it's like, they're just messing with you. So, there's that and that gets, you know, shared around and people get all up in arms and they think it's real and it's not real.
There's a third kind, which is just like large-scale hoax, They kind of go like this, and this was a real one, it was real fake news. You start getting confusing, right? This was actually fake news, it was a big hoax. They said the owner of Corona, the founder of Corona Beer ended up making all of his people that he grew up in his village with millionaires because everything went so good for him and that actually didn't happen at all. So there's a widespread hoax and people are, like right now there are people listening to me going oooh, I should not have sent that to my brother, you know, or whatever.
And then kind of the last piece is like fake news that is really, there may be a fact in there that's real, but then the whole thing is slanted in a different direction than the real facts actually would give you. And that usually is along the lines of like some miraculous food thing that's discovered, like you know, whatever it is, you thought truckloads of bacon were bad for you, but come to find out they're good for you! I'm sharing that because even though it's not true, I want it to be true. I likey the pig! I want it to be true. It's not true though, bacon's not good for you.
So fake news is everywhere. So here's what I would say to us. What we need, and I'm talking now to the body of Christ because my job is not really, I'm not trying to control the way that the rest of the world responds or the rest of the world thinks, I'm just trying to control the way that you think. I'm kidding. I'm trying to influence the way that you think. Because what we need in the body of Christ in a really, really bad way is discernment. It's missing and I think maybe, unfortunately, this is anecdotal, so just for what it is, if we were to take the social media platforms of those who claim to be followers of Jesus and we were to take the social media platforms of those who don't claim to be followers of Jesus, I'm not sure if we would see a big difference in terms of who's sharing what false information out there. Again, that's a little bit anecdotal, but you know, as I stalk some of you on your social media platforms, I'm kidding, I don't.
We need discernment. Would you agree with that? That in the day in age that we live in and even in the body of Christ we need discernment. And I want to tell you what I've been doing this week. I've been praying very specifically about that for you and for me. I've been praying for you for discernment.
Now it's not just some ethereal prayer that's out here, I'm actually echoing the same prayer that Paul prayed for here it is, the church at Philippi. Now I've already planted the seed by telling you some things that went on in Philippi, right? But Paul prayed for this church in a very specific way because when Paul ended up going there it would have been about eighty years after Caesar Augustus or Octavian had rebuilt the city after those battles where he had used fake news to be able to gather power and now about eighty years later or so, Paul is at Philippi and here's what he finds. He finds statues everywhere for the Caesars that are in power at that point, and he finds all kinds of you know, Greek and Roman you know, gods and goddesses to be worshiped and he finds, it's a mess, right? The whole thing's a mess.
In fact when Paul goes there, he's probably thinking to himself, it is going to be interesting to bring the good news into all of this fake news that's everywhere around us. But he wants to bring the good news into the midst of a culture full of fake news.
And Paul probably immediately looked for the Jewish people that were there. In fact, I know that he did because that's what he did everywhere he went. He would start with the Jews first. So he's looking for the Jewish people and looking for a synagogue, but there's no synagogue in Philippi. What that tells me is that likely there were not even ten male Jews in Philippi because it required ten male Jews to start a synagogue. So there's not one there, so there's probably not even that many Jews but he thinks to himself since there's not enough to have a synagogue and maybe there's not enough males, maybe there's some females and some males, and if they're going to gather anywhere, they're going to gather down by the river. It's a place where you could wash your hands, there could be ritual kind of cleansing and purging. So they're going to gather down by the river.
So he goes down to the river and that's where he finds a few of them and he ends up preaching the good news to them and a woman named Lydia comes to faith in Jesus Christ and then there's a church that's probably born during that time frame and then some years later after Paul's gone and he's birthed this church, he's now writing to this fledgling church that is in the midst of a city that is full of fake news, right, that Caesar is lord, there are all these pagan gods that could be worshiped and the Roman Empire is eternal and we're a military outpost for the Roman Empire. All of that is going on in their culture and he's writing back to them to try and breathe some good news into the midst of all of that fake news.
And do you know how he begins his letter? By praying for them. And his prayer is super-insightful. Listen to how he begins. He says this in Philippians chapter one verse number three. He says: "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." He offers up this encouraging word to them at the very beginning because their culture is full of fake news. It's full of a mess. There are so many things that are wrestling for the hearts of people's allegiance and their loyalty, and trying to get them on certain sides. And Paul speaks into them and says you know, this good news that you're embracing, that you've stood with me in, listen to this. Jesus is going to carry on what He's already birthed in you. He's going to carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I'm praying that for you but Paul, even though he says when he prays for them he prays with great joy because every time he thinks of them he's just thanking God. He doesn't say what exactly he's praying for them until a few verses later.
And I don't want you to miss this, here's what he says: "This is my prayer", that's how I figured that out, "that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and the praise of God." Now, I find it really interesting when I read this, because I'm reading a prayer of the apostle Paul that I'm now echoing the prayer that he prayed, I'm praying for you and I'm starting to see some connections that I didn't see before.
You see, Paul is talking here about them having discernment. He uses the phrase, right? That they would be able to discern. And if I were to ask you, just point blank, if I were to ask you "what do you think is at the foundation of discernment?" There might be a number of things that you might suggest, and by the way, a number of those things might be absolutely true. There probably are a number of things that we could talk about that are kind of at the heart or the foundation of what discernment actually is, but my guess is that the one thing that Paul makes the connection to is not one of the things you would have guessed as the foundation for discernment. Let me at least say it this way. It's not one of the things I would have guessed, and you may be ahead of me and you may be smarter than me and I'm okay with that. But it's not what I would have guessed. And in fact, I didn't actually make this connection until this week when I was studying this passage of Scripture. Now you may have made it before me, but I haven't.
Do you know what he says is at the foundation? Listen to this, at the foundation of discernment? Love. Watch, here's what it says. "This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best." Look at that. That your love may abound so that you may be able to discern. That's what Paul is saying. Maybe we could say it this way. Here's maybe a way, if you wanted to write it down and maybe have it so you could remember. We could say it this way: If you want to be discerning, you will need a love that is growing. If you want to be discerning, you will need a love that is growing. And Paul says that your love may abound, more and more, so that you might be discerning.
Now this is an important connection for us, ladies and gentlemen, because the reason that I'm making it is because Paul is making it. And I believe Paul was influenced by the teaching of Jesus to even get to this thought. Sometimes when you read Paul and you study Paul, and I really enjoy doing that because he wrote two thirds of the New Testament, when you read or you study the apostle Paul, many times he's quoting Scripture, many times he's quoting things, but there's other times specifically in reference to the teaching of Jesus, that he's not quoting directly but he's been influenced by. He's just taking the teaching of Jesus and he's extrapolating it for his purposes. And I think that's exactly what he did even in praying this prayer. This wasn't some kind of random prayer that Paul was just kind of thinking up out of thin air. It was saturated in the teaching of Jesus.
Do you remember when Jesus was teaching on the Mount of Olives? Some theologians call it the Olivet Discourse. You find it in Matthew chapter 24 and Jesus is teaching about the end of the age, and He's teaching about the ultimate fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. And He's talking about how people ought to live and how they ought to be, even at the coming of the Son of Man. Do you remember that?
Well, here's one of the things that Jesus says there. Notice what it says in Matthew 24 verse 11 and 12. He says: "Many false prophets will appear and" what, "deceive many people. And because of the increase of wickedness, the "what? "the love of most will grow cold." You see, Jesus made a connection in His teaching to this, that deception and lack of love go hand in hand. Deception and a love that's grown cold go hand in hand. Well, what is deception? The inability to discern! That's what it is! That's why Paul is saying he wants your love to grow or abound more and more so that you will be able to discern. If you want to be discerning, you need a love that is growing.
Now, the good thing about love is that love asks all the right questions. That's why it's helpful for us, and it's the foundation for discernment, because love asked the right questions. Discernment means we have to figure things out, right? Sometimes it means that we have to ask questions about certain things. And what love does as the foundation for discernment? It asks the right questions.
Let me see if I can illustrate it for you. And I'm gonna pull these basically from Paul's thoughts. Some of them are implied thoughts, but I'm going to pull them nonetheless. Here's the first question that I would submit to you that love asks. What is true? Love asks that question. What is true?
I want you to look back into our text where we are in Paul's prayer in Philippians chapter 1. And look what it says in verse 10. He says, I want you to love to abound more and more so that you may be able to discern what is best. And may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. And even earlier in the text he says, I want you to let your love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you can discern what is best, and you may be pure and blameless. All of these things are aiming - listen to this - all of these things are aiming at the idea of truth and authenticity.
You see, that's what love does. When our love is growing, we are asking the question what is true? Do you know why we are doing that? Listen to this - because fundamental to the nature of love is truth.
You remember like, if I were to ask you, where's a part in the Bible that talks a lot about love? You might respond by saying first Corinthians chapter 13, right? You've been to weddings. Because they read them in weddings all the time, right? But do you know part of the fundamental nature of love? Listen to what it says in first Corinthians 13 verse 6. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the - what - with the truth. That's a part of the fundamental nature of love. Love rejoices with the truth. Love asks the question, is it true?
Now stay with me here. When your love is growing, you'll ask the questions, is it true? Not do I want it to be true. Bacon is not good for you. You're not asking do - is it what I want to be true? You're asking is it true? That is important for us, ladies and gentlemen, because what happens in the day and age that we live in, with all of the clickbait that we have everywhere, and all the headlines that we read everywhere. What's happening is publishers are playing to your confirmation bias. Sorry to use that term. It's a cool term. I read it this week and I thought I'd impress you.
Your confirmation bias is this. You have a way you want things to be. And so they develop things that you will grab hold of without questioning if there's any evidence for them, because that's just how you want it to be. It's confirmation bias. But see, of all people, of all people in the world, believers in Jesus should not be scared of what is true and not be trying to concern ourselves about what we want to be true.
The reason we above all people should be concerned about what is true is because we are concerned about the glory of Jesus, who said I am the way, the (truth). He didn't say I've got some truth. That I'm gonna impart to you a little bit. I'm gonna give you a little bit of my secret sauce. He said here's who I am. I am the truth. That's who I am. I'm the way. I'm the truth. I'm the life. If we are followers of Jesus, we should be people that are concerned about things that are true, and not ever be scared of things that are true.
In fact, what happens is if we continue to play through a confirmation bias that may be because our love is waning instead of growing, that we want things to be a certain way. Maybe we wanted them to be a certain way politically. And so we push out all the stuff we can push out politically on the way we want it to be, instead of maybe finding out if everything we're pushing out is actually true or not. I'm not saying that you've done that. I'm saying a lot of people have. I know you haven't, but a lot of people have, but that's that's not good for us. Here's why. Because what it does is it starts to compromise our witness to the good news, because we have been purveyors of fake news along with everybody else. That does not help our Gospel witness, ladies and gentlemen. It doesn't help our credibility when we're talking to people about the glory of who Jesus is.
So how do we kind of spiritually speaking, how do we understand truth objectively? I'm not talking about you know our willingness to see a headline or to follow up on a news report to find out if there's actually evidence for what it's reporting. We should do that. But I'm talking about spiritually, how do we get to a place of understanding objective truth? Well, the only way that you know truth is to know Jesus right, because he is the truth. Right there's simply no definition outside of that when he's defined himself that way. I am the truth, okay. That solves that.
So we can know truth by knowing Jesus. But how do we get to know Jesus? We get to know Jesus by how God has revealed him by his Spirit through his Word. And see that is ultimately how we get to be discerning, when our love for the Word grows because our love for Jesus is growing. That's a part of what makes us discerning. Our love abounds more and more so that we can discern what's best.
In fact, I know we're studying Paul's prayer, but Jesus prayed also. Shocking news, right? there's a headline Jesus prayed - good job, Jerry. Thanks for that insight. But when Jesus prayed for his disciples before he went to the cross in John 17, notice what he said. My prayer is not that you take my disciples out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They're not of the world even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
You see, Jesus made it very clear to us that that the Father's word is truth for us. And that when we embrace it, we are going to be people of discernment. So if we want to grow in our discernment, we've got to grow in our love for Jesus and for His Word. So love asks what is true.
But love asks the second question. It's this. What's good for my neighbor? Love asks that question. What's good for my neighbor? In fact, I want you to see again in Paul's prayer here in verse number 11 what it says. He says, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. Filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Now I need you to understand something about spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit is not just something that is for your - you know - kind of health and for your opportunity to snack on it. I've just got a sweet little spiritual fruit basket here that God's doing in my life. This is so great. It's me and Jesus. Listen to this. Fruit in our lives is for the purpose of the world around us being able to taste and see the Lord is good. Fruit in our lives is so that when people bite into us - not literally - that's fake news. When people bite into us, they taste righteousness. The fruit that comes from our lives.
So in other words, when we talk about the fruit of righteousness, we're not just talking about ourselves in isolation, but we're talking about our impact on the world and the people in it that are around us. It's not just about us, just us and Jesus. It's about how that influences the world around us and how the fruit of our lives can be tasted by the world around us and they can see that Jesus is who he said he is. Why is that so important for us? Because what that does? That kind of love that recognizes that what God is doing in Christ in our lives is a gift and an act of His grace, and that we are deeply grateful for? That kind of love and gratitude to God makes us ask the question. What is good for my neighbor? That's what love does. And you know what? When we ask that question, we're starting to become more discerning, because we are now acting with the heart of Jesus.
Do you know what helps reveal this in our lives a lot? Voting. Some of you're holding your breath right now. Don't. Everything's cool. I'm not talking about necessarily who you voted for. But here's the question that I'm asking. When you vote for presidents or for county officials or whatever, when you vote are you asking what I believe is one of the most fundamental Christian questions you could ask. And it's this. What is best for my neighbor?
You know what I voted in the presidential election. Doesn't matter who I voted for. I'm not telling you anyway. A few people know, but they are sworn upon the pains of death not to say anything. That's not really the issue. But do you know what influenced my vote? You did. Cause you're my neighbors.
And you know when you read the Bible when you start understanding what Jesus was talking about when he was talking about neighbor, you kind of go, seems like he was talking about everybody. Yeah that's it. He's talking about everybody. Not just the dude that lives next to you in your apartment, or the person in the house next to you. Jesus was talking about everybody. And you know that you influenced my way of voting, and here's why. Because I was asking the question before I voted, I was asking the question, what do I believe would be in the best interest of my neighbor? Trying to take myself out of position and say what do I think would be in the best interest of my neighbor?
Now people may come to some different perspectives of that. But here's what I knew about my neighbors. I've got white neighbors, black neighbors, Hispanic neighbors, Asian neighbors, Middle-Eastern neighbors. I've got Native American neighbors. I've got all kinds. Some of them are rich. Some of them are poor. Some of them have jobs as CEOs. Some of them are looking for work. I got all kinds of neighbors. So start asking the question: who are my neighbors? And what do I think would be in their best interest as opposed to just my best interest? Next election, whichever one you're voting in, keep that one in your mind. Because there's nothing more fundamentally Christian than asking the question what is good for my neighbor. Because that's what love does. Love asks good questions.
See the problem is, is that when we buy the lies that are sold to us about division and about trying to divide us, even in the body of Christ, will get divided over politics, because we've bought the lie that the politics of power are more powerful than the blood of the Savior. Love will help you discern better. When your love can grow, so can your discernment.
Let me give you a third question. I'm going to wrap it up here in just a second. A third question that love asks. How can I identify with others? This is a third question that love will ask. How can I identify with others. Look again in verse number 11. Here's what it says. Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.
Now can I pause for just a second? Whenever you see the phrase Jesus Christ, one of the first things that I think runs through most people's minds when they hear the phrase Jesus Christ is they think about the crucified, resurrected, ascended and exalted and glorified son of the Living God. And you are absolutely right to think so. Well you should think about that. It's incredibly important. When we see the phrase Jesus Christ, kind of our mind goes to the idea of Christ, kind of this exalted, and the word means Anointed One. Now you do know that in the New Testament when you see the word Christ, that's just the Greek version of the same word in Hebrew that is Messiah. Both of those words just mean Anointed One. That's what they are talking about there. And so, we think about Jesus the Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One. And we think about him in all of his glory and well we should.
But I would ask you not to forget about his actual name. And not just his title. Christ isn't his last name. It's just a title. His name is Jesus. That's as common as John, Jim, Steve. There were lots of Jesus's that were running around at that time. He has a common simple name. Here's why we're reminded of how important and impactful that is. Because it reminds us, even though he is and became the exalted, glorified, ascended, crucified, resurrected son of the Living God. He is also God with skin on in the Incarnation who came and who was among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of God. He was fully human, while being fully divine, and we best not lose that. Here's why. Because what the incarnation - Jesus putting on flesh - teaches us is that God didn't come - listen to this - he didn't come to just empathize with us. He came to identify with us.
You see, that's what love did. Love identified with us. Now listen carefully. How would it be helpful in the Church of Jesus Christ in the United States and certainly in Canada as well if believers in Jesus would actually get to know people different than them in the body of Christ, so that they could begin to have some perspective for the way in which Jesus is walking them through - for the way in which they see the world through the lens of faith. How helpful would that be? I'll tell you how helpful it would be. It would make us more discerning. It would make us more discerning. Because we would take on the nature of what Jesus did in the Gospel in coming and identifying with us.
Now just because - listen to this - just because you identify with someone and you begin to understand their perspective doesn't mean you are obligated to agree with it. Doesn't mean that. Jesus came and took on skin. Took on flesh. Understood our temptation. Understood our limitations. Understood our frailties, our hungers, our pains, all of those kinds of things. Yet he was without sin. We were not. It doesn't mean Jesus looks at us and goes man, yeah, phew. I know it's tough being a human. And man, your sin. I get it. Seriously, just do what you do. He didn't do that. While we were yet sinners, Jesus still died for us, even in the midst of all of this knowing. So it doesn't necessarily mean that when we understand the perspective of others, that we're going to have to embrace it fully, but what it does mean is that we will be better in the body of Christ in terms of discerning and caring and understanding the perspective of our brothers and sisters that aren't exactly like us. This is extraordinarily, I believe, an important word for those of us in the body of Christ, because if we are growing in our love, we will begin to grow in our discernment. And love asked really good questions. So if you want to be discerning, you're gonna need a love that's growing.
Let me ask you a couple of questions before I let you go. Here's the first one. Is your love for Jesus and your love for his word growing or shrinking? And if you say in your heart, I'll be honest with you, spending time with Jesus is not really something I do. I come here. And I hear people say it all the time, you're my like one week shot in the arm, Jerry. You need help. Listen. I'm not saying, I'm appreciative of the encouragement, and I'm grateful that you're listening, and I'm grateful that it's helpful to you. But man, I'm pretty sure that just in your regular life, you don't eat one meal a week. I'm pretty sure. I'm not 100% sure. But I'm pretty sure that you don't eat just one meal a week. You need to get to know Jesus, individually. Spend time with him, either reading the Word or listening to it read somehow. You can do it either way. I don't care. You may learn different ways. That's good. But you need to spend time with them and understand that, because it's imperative for your growth and grace. And then your hunger begins.
Some of us don't realize how hungry we are until we eat. if you haven't eaten in a really long time, and then you start to eat and then all of a sudden it starts to kick back in and you're just like what? I'm hungry! Right? That's what happens. That's what happens sometimes we we've been away from the Word and we've been away from Jesus. And you're starving so much, you don't even know you're hungry. You don't even know. But if you'll come back, and you'll begin to eat you'll realize just how hungry you were. And then you'll want to understand more of what it means to love Jesus and love his word. And when you do that, I can promise you this. Because of what Paul was praying. As your love grows for Jesus and grows for his word, your discernment will increase. And you need that in this world.
Let me ask you a second question. Do you care about what is true more than just what you want to be true? That's a question of love. And of all people, the people of Jesus ought to be those people. Let me ask you this. When's the last time in your decision making that you asked the question, do I think this will be good for my neighbor. And maybe lastly, I would ask you this. Have you intentionally tried to build a relationship or a friendship with someone in the body of Christ? He's not like you. Who's different than you. Maybe they come from a different background, different ethnicity, different socioeconomic class. Have you tried to intentionally develop a relationship and actually know one another and understand perspective of one another? Love does. That's what love does.
So if you want to be more discerning, you're gonna need a love that is growing. So what I want to do is I want to pray for you. I want to pray for all of our campuses, everybody who's listening. And I'm really just gonna pray Paul's prayer over your life and over my life. Because that's what I want. And I would say this to you. If you've never come to a place of actually meeting Jesus, like turning from your sin and entrusting your life to Jesus, you can do that when we dismiss after this worship gathering. And I'll mention that to you in just a moment. Can I pray over you for just this moment?
So I'm echoing the words of the Apostle Paul, but they're meaningful for me as well. I do thank my God every time I remember all of you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I'm confident of this. That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer. That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. All God's people said, amen.
Let me say this to you before you dismissed. Two things. One, if you need to understand more about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, I'd invite you to come to our Fireside Room. It's just right across the atrium. I'd love for you to do that. But maybe some of you may need to express love in a way with some people and specifically some children that are not like you. We've got opportunities for you to help sponsor kids out in the atrium, if you want to make that a part of your action of expressing love and growing in wisdom and growing in discernment. You can certainly do that, and we'd encourage you to do that.
I love you folks. God bless you. Have a great week.