Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- What was so unique about the sacrifices that the early Church made? How did these things play into the explosive growth of the Gospel message?
- Read Philippians 1:12-14. As Paul wrote these words from a Roman prison, how does he view the sacrifices he was making? What happened as a result of that sacrifice? How can we share this same perspective with our own sacrifice – knowing it will likely be different than Paul’s sacrifice?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
- Discuss your biggest takeaway from this series: Serious Church.
Just this past week, on February 18th, it commemorated the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther. He died 473 years ago. I know that's a long time, so the year was 1546. Now, Martin Luther was a great reformer. Some of you may or may not know who he was, but he was used by God to speak against some of the abuses and misalignment of the church of his age and was able to lead a time of reformation in the church.
When he was young, he grew up under some strict parents and he was a pretty serious kid. Some would even call him slightly tempered or depressed. Martin ended up, when he was a young man, becoming a monk and so he lived that life in service to the Lord. He determined that he wanted to make sure that the Lord knew how much he was serious and how serious he was about everything and so he would sacrifice in a variety of different ways. Martin Luther would take a whip and whip himself so that he could mortify his flesh. He wanted to make sure that he was keeping himself in order, so he would beat himself sometimes. Not a great idea, but he was doing that.
He would also do a number of other things. He would go days without eating to show God how much he was sacrificing for Him. He would go down his knees on rock-hewn steps to the point of blood and he would climb back up those steps on his knees to demonstrate how serious he was and how willing to sacrifice he was for the Lord. Interestingly enough, Martin, even though he was doing all of these things, still felt at a great distance from God. Well, here's why. Because sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice actually just feels sacrificial. You catch that? Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice just feels sacrificial.
By God's grace, Martin was assigned to actually teach a course at the university on the Book of Romans and when he was teaching that course on the Book of Romans, he ended up coming to a passage that absolutely hit him like a lightning bolt, that the just shall live by faith. It so dramatically altered the way that he saw everything that he was doing because he was encountering God. He was encountering the love of God. He was encountering the grace of God, kind of what felt like to him for the very first time. Now a man who was semi tempered and somewhat depressed actually becomes energetic and enthusiastic about the gospel and about what he could do and eventually, he would nail 95 theses to the Wittenberg Castle gate and share with an entire institution the need for reformation around certain theology.
It's really an extraordinary story because what we figure out about that is that even though none of us are reformers, necessarily, we're not given the same task that Martin Luther is, we kind of understand what happened with him a little bit. Have you ever been one of those people who sacrificed for the sake of sacrifice and then you realized that just feels sacrificial? Well, there's another way to go about that and that's the way of love. The way of love feels very different.
I don't know if you, you probably do, I don't know if you've ever fallen in love. Now, I don't even like using that term because it sounds like it's almost something that happened to us accidentally and that love is not a choice and all those things. It's just that touchy-feely thing, but you know what I'm saying when I say that. I've only loved one girl in my whole life, just one. Her name's Edie and I put a ring on it.
Since sixth grade, I've had my eye on this girl, this little, skinny runner who could outrun all the boys in the mile. At the age of 12, she was running a five minute and 25 second mile. Yeah, that's ridiculous, by the way. Adult men are going, "Yeah, no, I can't do that in a car." I had my eye on her since sixth grade and then it took a while for her, like a long while, to know that I was on the planet and that I was the man of her dreams. She finally came around and came to Jesus and figured out what all that looked like because, I mean, bam. Hey, high school students, stop laughing. How about that? How about that? How about don't laugh at the old man with the gray beard? How about that? Treat your elders with respect. You heard that one? Did you learn that at MOVI Weekend? I'm kidding. I'm just keeping you awake is what I'm doing right now.
When we started dating and I realized that I loved her, that I wanted to marry her, there was almost nothing she couldn't say that I wouldn't do. Whatever sacrifice that I needed to make, I'd be willing to do it. If she said, "I want to talk to you at 3:00 in the morning for a long time and I want you to be standing on your head," I probably would've. I would've done that. If she would've said, "You know what? I need you to change a carburetor and then drink the oil and I want you to run a hundred miles and pick me up," I probably would've done that. I might've spit the oil out, but I would've probably done it. You know why? Because no sacrifice for me was an issue because I loved her.
You see, sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice feels just sacrificial, but sacrifice for the sake of love, it just feels loving. That's just how it feels. You see, that's what we need to have in our minds when we talk about the idea of sacrifice because the early church that we're studying, the early church was serious about sacrifice, but I don't want you to come into the idea of sacrifice thinking that sacrifice is just for the sake of sacrifice because Martin Luther would tell you, "That didn't make me feel any closer to God," but sacrifice for the sake of love, now that's a different thing because that feels loving.
See, the early church that we have been studying, particularly when you look at the first generation church in the Book of Acts, it was built on the idea of sacrifice. The good news that they responded to, all of these people that came to faith in Jesus, 3000 of them on that very first day when Peter preached that message at Pentecost in Acts chapter two that we read about, the very good news that they responded to was this, that God so loved the world that His son came and willingly sacrificed Himself for them.
You see, the church was actually born in the crucible of sacrifice and they realized when they surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus, who sacrificed for them, that their very lives might end up being a sacrifice in the same way. See, this is why I think when Paul is writing his letter to the early church at Ephesus, this first generation church, some that have scattered since the persecution, and he's writing this letter called Ephesians. He says something that I don't want us to miss. It's in Ephesians chapter number five, the first two verses. Listen to what he says. "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Now, stay with me right here. He actually teaches us something. He says, "What I want you to do is I want you to follow God's example and I want you to walk in the way of love," but don't miss this. He qualifies what the way of love actually looks like. "Walk in the way of love," and hear these two words, "just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
You see, when we talk about the idea of love and we talk about the idea of the way of love, what we need to understand is how the Bible defines that idea. Here's what Paul teaches us. If I were summarizing what you just read in verses one and two, it's a very simple summary and it's this. The way of love is the way of sacrifice. The way of love is the way of sacrifice. You see, that's why Paul says what he says, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love just as Christ gave Himself up for us."
You see, it's qualified here when we understand what love is, love actually brings about sacrifice. Now, the assumption of the early church was that this was going to be the case. They assumed this because they knew who they followed. They were following the one who laid His life down for them and that they, in following Him, they would lay their lives down for other people. They assumed this because they were born in the crucible of sacrifice and they were serious about it and so what it meant to them to follow Jesus meant they followed Him even if it cost them significantly.
Do you know that this early church ended up flipping an empire on its head because this is how they lived. They walked out the way of love that was the way of sacrifice, so how did they do that? By the way, how do we? How can we learn from them what they did and what we can do in walking in the way of love that is the way of sacrifice?
Well, I'm going to give you a couple of quick things and here's the first one. Like Jesus, they, the early church, sacrificed because they were so dearly loved. This is part of why they did this, that they were able to sacrifice because they were so dearly loved. Look again in verse number one of chapter five. It says, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children."
We're talking about this because we're looking at the model of Jesus and here's what we know about Jesus. Jesus was dearly loved by the Father. You say well, yeah, I guess that's implied, but I don't know if that's ever stated real clearly in the scripture. Well, yeah, not only is it stated real clearly in the scripture, you know who it's stated by? The Father. You actually get to read His voice speaking about His son. Do you remember when Jesus was getting baptized, Matthew, chapter number three? Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John, but John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You and You come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now. It's proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented and as soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water and at that moment, Heaven was opened and He saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him and a voice from Heaven said, "This is My son, whom I love. With Him, I am well pleased."
Do you know what's interesting about this when you're reading Matthew here? When Jesus comes up out of the water of baptism and you see the son, you hear the voice of the Father, and the spirit of God alights on Him like a dove, do you know what He is about to do? He's about to walk out of the water and into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy. Do you know what He walks into the wilderness with? The affirmation of the love of His Father.
You see, it's a really great thing to know that you are dearly, dearly loved. That is great, great news. If you've ever seen a husband and a wife who really love one another and I've become like a savant in being able to pick people out and I can see if a wife is truly loved and if a husband is really loved. Listen, if I see a husband who's really loved by his wife and really respected and loved by his wife, he feels like he can run through walls. A woman who is deeply loved by her husband, she feels like she can fly. Why? Because she's loved. Because he's loved.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, when we know how dearly loved we are in Christ, we now don't fear doing what God asks us to do near as much. You know why? Because we're loved. What is going to happen to me if I say yes to You, God. This might cost me something. Yeah, it might, but I'm loved. I'm dearly loved just as Jesus was.
By the way, Jesus, who was dearly loved by the Father in ways that may be hard for us to comprehend was loved all the way through His sacrifice and it had to be motivational. Every time we read in the scriptures of Jesus early in the morning that He's spending time alone with the Father, sometimes before the Sun even comes up, Jesus is alone with the Father. What do you think is happening there? I can guarantee you I know at least one thing that's happening there. The Father is pouring out His love on His son because of what His son is going to do for the sake of the world. You see, what Paul teaches us here is that we, too, like the early church, we can sacrifice because we are dearly loved. That is an encouragement.
Let me give you a second thing. Like Jesus, they sacrificed themselves for the sake of others. They sacrificed themselves for the sake of others. Notice the model that we're looking at here in Ephesians chapter five, verse number two. Paul says, "Walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us." Him for us. You see, that's what we have as a model. That's what we have as a filter to look at life, that when we are, listen to this, when we are living the life of Jesus because of His life in us, it means that we are willing to sacrifice for the sake of others.
Jerry, what does that look like? What are you talking about? Does that mean having to stand in front of a bullet for somebody or whatever? Well, maybe, but it means a lot of things. For instance, how about emotional sacrifice, sacrificing ourselves emotionally for someone else? Say what are you talking about exactly? Well, the Bible is written in a way that in our modern versions that we have, we've got chapter numbers and verse numbers. None of that was in the original text, right? Those are just additions by commentators and scholars to be able to help us get to where we're going in a better way, so we can go, "Okay. Go to chapter five or go to verse number four." Those weren't there originally. When you read Ephesians what we call chapter five, verses one and two, you have to remember what was coming in what we call Ephesians four, verse 32. He's using the same model of how Jesus has done what He's done on our behalf, but notice what the text says. It says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you."
You see, here's what I want you to understand. Forgiveness has a price tag. It's never free. For you to forgive somebody means that the price has to actually be paid for forgiveness to occur. Somebody has to pay. You come to my house, you break my window, I forgive you. I send you home, no problem at all, but I have to pay for the window. Why? Because somebody has to pay. You broke it. I forgive you. I really should've done this the other way where I come to your house and break your window, right? Somebody has to pay.
Does anybody in here understand that if you've ever had to really forgive someone what kind of emotional cost that is? You felt it, haven't you? If you've really had to forgive someone, you know the emotional sacrifice because listen, you had to eat a lot of stuff. You had to absorb it. You had to eat it, just as Christ did for us. While we were yet sinners, He died for us so that we might be forgiven, but to be forgiven, a price had to be paid and He paid it.
Sometimes for us, what it means to actually follow Jesus and to live the life of Jesus, it means that we have to be a people that forgive others and there's an emotional cost with that. Let me make sure that you understand something. There's a much higher emotional toll if you don't because you lock yourself into a jail of bitterness and you think you're doing somebody some harm somewhere and they're not even thinking about you at this point. You're just jailing yourself up. You are chaining yourself down. You are holding yourself back from a fruitful life in Jesus Christ because you are not willing to forgive. Forgiveness.
Let me remind you of other ways emotionally. Have you ever had people say things about you or about your motives or about your actions that weren't even true, but you knew some things that if you were to articulate them all could hurt other people and so you chose the way of love, you chose the way of restraint, and you decided to eat it out of love because you were willing to pay the price so that others didn't have hurt? You know what I'm talking about, don't you? You guys have felt that before, right, emotional sacrifice.
There's other ways of sacrifice, as well, like monetary sacrifice. The early church did that. You remember that when the early church began, it began with 3000 people that came to faith in Jesus Christ, right? These people, many of them were from other parts of Asia Minor, Asia Minor. They came. They heard the gospel. They were transformed. You know what they did? Listen to this. They didn't leave. They stayed. They left their homes behind. They left their jobs behind. Do you think that created a financial hardship? They were so committed to following Jesus and now being a part of this new people called the church that they decided that they would just stay and they left all of this and so what happened? Well, the other believers that were already there, they decided that they would be willing to sacrifice for these people who decided to stay.
Listen to what it says in Acts chapter four. "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." Now listen, this is not the suggestion of some particular economic system that is to be employed in governments and those kinds of things. This is a recognition of the heart of believers who said my brothers and sisters are in need and we're willing to face hardship so that they might be supplied for.
Do you know other early churches did the same thing, like the church at Macedonia? Paul, who was writing a letter to the church at Corinth actually gave them an illustration about the church at Macedonia. He said, "I'm going to take up this offering for Jerusalem because they've been scattered and persecuted and many of them are hungry and starving and there's a lot of need, so I want to take up this offering, but let me tell you about Macedonia," he says to the Corinthians.
Notice what he says in 2 Corinthians chapter eight. He said, "Now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity, for I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability entirely on their own. They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord's people."
Every pastor in America reads this and believes that it's sci-fi because it is a rare day that anyone ever comes to a church leader and says, "I am begging you let me give sacrificially. Please, man, do not let me miss it. I want to give until it hurts and hurts some more." That just doesn't happen very often. Typically, it's more like, "I've really blown it with my stewardship. Is there something you can do to give me ... Is there a class or something you could help me with?" It's usually the opposite of that.
By the way, we're glad to minister in that way, as well. Listen, the reason that we're willing to sacrifice even out of their poverty that welled up in rich generosity, here's why. They know who they followed. The sacrificial son of God is who they followed and so it made sense for them. I'm going to sacrifice because Jesus did. This is His life living in us. This is what He did for us and so that's how they sacrificed.
It's difficult in our day and age, I know. We're a consumer culture. Unfortunately, sometimes the only people we're willing to sacrifice for are ourselves, maybe our families, but we don't leave any margin to actually be able to engage when God says, "I want you to step into this and help. I want you to be generous here," because we've got addictions to shopping and consumption and all of those things. By the way, I'm not discouraging shopping. You need clothes. I recommend them. You should have some. I'm saying those aren't a bad thing until they become the thing and then they're devilish because they're stealing from you the truth of what it means to live a life fully surrendered to God.
Not only is there emotional and monetary sacrifice, but there's also physical sacrifice. This is what it means when the early church sacrificed themselves for the sake of others. I think of Stephen, the first martyr of the church that you can read about in Acts chapter six and Acts chapter seven. Stephen wasn't one of the apostles, but he was a man full of faith and full of the spirit, the Bible says, and he stood up at great detriment to himself. He preached the gospel to people who didn't really want to hear it. You know what they did? They killed him. They stoned him to death.
Then, and it's interesting that I'm reading this passage written by Paul, who was named Saul, who was standing there when Stephen was put to death by stones. Do you know what happened to the church? The church faced persecution and they were scattered from Jerusalem all over the place. Do you think that it scared those believers in Jesus because they saw people like Stephen, who died, people like James, the apostle who got his head cut off? Do you think that they were nervous about what life looked like? Probably so because they were human beings, but do you know what they did? Acts chapter eight says those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Do you know why? Because they knew who they followed, the sacrificial son of God. That meant for them that they, listen, to walk in the way of love means to walk in the way of sacrifice, not sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. That just feels sacrificial, but sacrifice for the sake of love because that feels loving.
This is what the early church was doing, so like Jesus, they sacrificed because they were so dearly loved and they sacrificed themselves for the sake of others. Lastly, like Jesus, they sacrificed at great cost. See, the reason that sacrifice has a cost is because love does. Love has a cost. I want you to listen carefully and if you could do me a favor, not move around, not do anything, I'd appreciate it. I want you to listen closely to what I'm about to tell you.
See, in the early church context where the early church was born, they were born into a Greco Roman Empire. Greece had come before. Rome was now the dominant empire. This empire could be barbaric at times. There was a culture of death among this empire. Infanticide, for instance, when you read your history, infanticide was not only common, it was legal. If you had a child that had a birth defect, you didn't like that they came out with something wrong with them, you could slit the child's throat or put the child on a garbage heap and leave it to die of exposure. This wasn't uncommon. I'm not even being dramatic when I say that.
You see, believers in Jesus during that period of time in the early church history, they understood who they followed and they understood that this shouldn't be the case that babies are sacrificed for the sake of the parents. They said, "No, no, no, as believers in Jesus, we sacrifice for their sake." You know what they did? They would go to the garbage heaps and they would rescue children that were left for dead for exposure and, at great cost to themselves, they were raising children, some of which had deformities or birth defects and they were raising them. Do you know why? Because they knew who they followed. They followed Jesus and Jesus was willing to sacrifice at great cost to Himself. You know what the early church didn't do? They didn't hold a rally. They didn't walk around with signs. They didn't call for Caesar's resignation. They acted sacrificially because of love. That's what they did.
Now, I lament to say that I don't think times have changed that much. We live seemingly more and more in a culture of death. In our state of New York, there's been a lot of heat around a law that has just been expanded in our state to give opportunity with a few caveats, but broad enough caveats to be able to end the life of a child at delivery, full term. Now, if you're outraged by that, you're a little late because the law that it expands was willing to allow their lives to be taken at 20 weeks, not just 40. Both of them are a culture of death.
Now, I'm also sensitive to the fact that some people are in very, very difficult situations and as believers in Jesus, our job isn't judgment. It's compassion. It's love. It's to minister. I find it ironic that our governor, who we should pray for out of respect for his office because the scripture teaches us to pray for those who are in authority, but our governor, upon the completion of this law, lit up the Freedom Tower in pink to celebrate this, to celebrate this. The reason I find it ironic is because at the base of the Freedom Tower, there are names that are embossed in gold of all the people who were killed at 9/11 where the two towers came down. Of all those 3000 or so names that are there, 11 of them were pregnant women and their children are listed in the death toll, so I find it ironic that if a terrorist kills a pre-born child, it's a child, but if parents and a doctor kill a child, it's not one.
What do you do? Do you just go on comments sections of things and rage? Yeah, because that's really wise. Has that ever solved anything? Have you ever known anybody to come out of some raging comments section and go, "Huh. That's a great point"? No, they've been calling you and your mom names. That's what those are about. You're not solving anything doing that. That's not how we engage as the people of Jesus. Or is it I'm signing a petition? That's great and I don't discourage action, by the way, but let's be honest. Rarely anything comes of that either. Sometimes we only do it because we want to know that we have been morally outraged and want everybody to know it. It makes us feel better, but hasn't changed a single thing. What do the people of Jesus do? The same thing the early church did. We sacrificially love.
There's a reason that our church partners with pregnancy crisis centers in our region with funding and volunteers. Because we believe in life from the womb to the tomb. There's a reason that we have an every child ministry at our church, to metaphorically help rescue some children who have been cast aside on the garbage heap of society. We have believers who are being trained and who bring those kids in and are taking them on at sacrifice to themselves. There's a reason that we're partnered in Sierra Leone and Haiti in helping children who have been orphaned. There's a reason our college students are helping to fight sex trafficking, so you can get to some of the root of some of these problems.
You see, instead of cursing the darkness, we can enter in and sacrificially love and engage in some of these ways, just like the early church did. You see, cursing the darkness doesn't do much, but acting does, much like my friend Bernie Elliot. Bernie is one of the pastors of Missio Church in Syracuse, New York, a church that we helped in their process of planting with funding and support and prayers. Bernie is a wonderful guy and a nerd, straight up nerd. I hope he watches this. He's a friend.
This guy knows everything about books. If he wasn't a pastor, he'd be a librarian. The reason I say that is because he actually, when we got all these books in for our library at the church, he came. Thousands of them, thousands of them. He would drive many times. I don't know how many times he did this, like four or five times. He would drive in and just come and he would begin sorting books for us. He would begin labeling books for us. He'd be saying, "Ah, this book, you don't want this," or, "You do want this." I'm like, "How do you know all these things? You're a nerd." He's a wonderful man of God. He did this just to serve us because we've been a partner to them and he thought man, I want to be a partner back to you.
Here's what I know about Bernie. Bernie has four biological children. Three of them have special needs, one of which is Down Syndrome. He adopted four more who all have special needs, another one with Down's, one that's unresponsive and is fed through a tube in their stomach, one with a cleft palate. When some of the news areas found out about this, they interviewed he and his wife and his wife said, "Listen, they're created in the image of God and because of that, they have value and dignity, even if they don't have ability." Then she said, "Jesus came not to be served, but to serve." That's who we're called to be, sacrificial love.
I don't know what that means for you. This is not a message to say hey, everybody needs to adopt. I'm not suggesting that at all. You need to do what God calls you to do. What I am suggesting is this, is that Paul says to us that the way of love is the way of sacrifice. We are deeply loved because He first loved us and when we love Him back, sacrifice doesn't feel so much like sacrifice anymore. It just feels like love. I wonder what that looks like in your space.
What I'd like for us to do as we conclude today is I want to do the best thing I think we could do to conclude a message on sacrifice and that is to share Communion together before we leave. Now, as our ushers here and on all of our campuses are getting ready, I'm going to ask them whenever they're ready and prepared, they can just come on down with the elements, but here's what I want you to be reminded of, that this is a meal. This is an ordinance. This is a commemoration for those of us that know Jesus.
Those that don't, I need you to understand something. If you've never really become a follower of Jesus and by faith put your trust in Him, this isn't some religious ritual to do that you can somehow gain points with God like Martin Luther was trying to originally. You can go ahead and start passing those out. This isn't that. This is for those of us who knew who we are in Jesus.
Now, as you receive these, I want you to hold onto them because we're going to receive them together in just a moment, but I want you to be thinking about this, thinking about the beauty of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf that is depicted in the bread and in the cup. Now, if you've gotten the elements, go ahead and take out the bread. Paul writes, when he's writing his first letter to Corinth, he says, "I receive from the Lord what I also passed on to you, but the Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'"
Father, as we contemplate the gift and the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, we are reminded that His body was broken so that the body of Christ might be whole. Jew, Gentile, male, female, every nation, tongue, and tribe who confess Jesus as Lord are now brought into the family of God. That came through sacrifice. As we eat today, we recognize, Lord Jesus, the sacrifice You've made on our behalf out of love for the Father and out of love for us, Your people. With that, we thank You and together we eat. If you'd open up the cup, as well. Paul writes, "In the same way, after supper, Jesus took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me, for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.'"
Lord Jesus, we recognize that as we look into the fruit of the vine, it is a picture of Your blood that was shed on our behalf, that while we were yet sinners, You sacrificed Yourself for us. Now we want to remind ourselves as we sit around this table and reflect on what You've done, we want to remind ourselves that the way of Jesus, the way of love, is the way of sacrifice. I pray that Your life in us would help us to live out the truth of that. We thank You for modeling love to us in the form of sacrifice, so we together drink with grateful hearts.
Now, before we walk out, two things. One, if you'll take these with you and deposit them on your way out, we'd be grateful for that. Secondly, if you're here and you've never trusted your life to Jesus, we'd love to talk to you about what that looks like, what it means to surrender yourself to Him. When we dismiss in a moment, if you come out of this room or the East Worship Center, you can just make your way to a clearly marked room in the atrium called the Fireside Room. One of our pastors, prayer partners, would love to talk to you about what it means to live in Christ, to have a relationship with Him, to have your sins forgiven, to have your life made new. We'll be waiting on you if that's the case.
For those of us, though, that already know Jesus, we really have been transformed by Him, I wonder what He may have said to us about our places and our spaces, where He wants us to walk in the way of love, which is the way of sacrifice. For some of you, it means that you need to begin to understand more deeply that if you're in Christ, how deeply loved you are because it will free you to live in obedience. It will free you because you know that you're loved.
For some of you, it may be that there's a person in your life that you need to forgive, someone that has done you wrong, mistreated you, spoken ill of you. Maybe you even know some things that could hurt them, but you're willing to swallow it all for the sake of the love of Jesus. Maybe it's about not consuming everything, but having margin to be able to meet needs. I don't know what it may be for you, but whatever it is that Jesus is asking of you, I pray that you'll do it and as quickly as rain coming down on our roof that you will obey His voice.
Father, You said much to us in this day and for all of it we're deeply grateful. Would You help us to be a people who are known by love? God, we know that that means that the way of love is the way of sacrifice because the way of love that we walk in is just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice. Would You help us to be that kind of people in the world that we live in? Not people who sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice because we think it earns points with you, but who sacrifice for the sake of love because we're loved by You and because we love You? We trust You to do this among us in this culture, in this generation, that we might be a light instead of just being people who rant about the darkness. Would You use us for Your glory, as a city on a hill, as a light on a stand, that we may illuminate western New York with the glory of God. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.