by Pastor Tim White
We have been studying the use of the Greek word AGAPE in the New Testament to give us a God’s eye view of his plan to change the world. We see a God who is relational more than just contractual. When Jesus talks to someone it is not a practiced sales pitch that never varies. He listens and responds to their greatest need. It might be: Love your enemies. You must be born again. Count the cost. Worry about nothing. Everyone is your neighbor - even Samaritans. Judge not or you will be judged. Take care of my sheep. Give away everything you have, take up your cross and follow me… My prayer is that our church can follow Jesus’ secret plan to change the world. It is not supposed to be a secret, but it has become one. Reach outside of the bubble of your Christian Circle and build friendships with all kinds of people -- listening to them, loving them, encouraging them, and praying for them.
This week we look at the heart of the series: The Love Chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. There are all kinds of social media challenges that have gone on. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Now there is the 30 Days of Sex Challenge that people are talking about right now. (Don’t worry I am not talking about either of those.) But, in this day and age of so much division and hate, I am offering the Love Chapter Challenge.
Memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and say it or pray it for 30 days.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Do four agape love things.
L. Love your wife. (This is for married couples, but I am sure that Christian singles are praying for marriages.)
In my marriage counseling I often tell people about Elling and Barb Halvorson. Elling calls his wife hot lips. They are senior adults, but at the marriage of their grandson, Elling challenged all his married grandchildren to kiss their spouse every single day for the rest of their lives. And he added make it a good one. Then he demonstrated - like a bull getting ready to charge he pawed at the ground with his feet and gave his wife a kiss that made all his extended family cheer. Kiss your wife (a really good smack) once a day for 30 days.
O. Offer to pray daily with someone you normally would not pray with.
I’m going to call all my grandchildren every day and pray with them over the phone. And I am going to add someone outside my circle to pray with once a day. If that sounds uncomfortable, then just pray for them and don’t tell them. But if you really want to stretch, try praying over the phone, for someone you love but don’t see and see if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye. It doesn’t have to be a complicated prayer just pray from your heart.
V. Verses 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – memorize these and pray them daily and live them for 30 days.
E. Encourage someone outside your normal circle.
Ask a neighbor if you can clean their rain gutters; take a homeless person to lunch or put them up for a night in a motel. Stop and help a person stranded on the road or give an extra gift through the church to send a kid to camp. Help in a mission project. Contribute to a Benevolence Fund for helping people caught in a crunch in our area. Go feed people at a homeless camp or help out at the Union Gospel Mission; but do something that reaches out of your normal circle.
So, expect to see this challenge on my Facebook page, LinkedIn site and Twitter feed – 20,000 people in all will see it. And I am going to challenge other Pastors to join in this Love Challenge. From other churches I am going to challenge Pastor Brian White from Hill Song Church, Pastor Monte Ingersoll from Living Room Church, Pastor David Hamlin (retired Baptist pastor), Pastor Rich Warren, Pastor Ron Wilbur, Pastor Mike Mugford of Friendly Street Church of God; Austin Svangren from Word of Faith Church, Roberts A. Schuller from Robert Schuller Ministries. And of course, Pastor Helio Silva, Pastor Chet McVey, Pastor Su Jong Beck, Pastor David Gerzsenye, Pastor Linda Skinner, Pastor Michael Fernandez, Pastor Josh Zappone, Pastor Rhonda Jones, Pastor Eliot Stone, Pastor Jackie White, Pastor Marty Folsom, Pastor Becca McCary: Executive Director of Sisters of Mary Catholic Ministries, Pastor Dale White Fellowship of Joy, Pastor John Bangs and Father Lou Martin of the Baltimore Archdiocese.
If each person will only call out two people to the Love Chapter Challenge who knows how far this thing can go!
So please join me this weekend for a 20-minute sermon on the Love Challenge - it just might change the world.
Your friend for the rest of my life,