Love Cares (Love Everyone: Life by Life) by John Burke

We started at new series at Gateway Church in Austin called Love Everyone: Life by Life!

There are people we encounter everyday, at work, in our neighborhoods, or even in our own home, that may seem happy or content. But many of the people around us suffer with a deep feeling of loneliness—a lack of connection that isn’t always readily detectable from the outside. God demonstrated a love that cared about such connections, and He wants us to continue to intentionally demonstrate that love. How can you show you truly care about those around you?

Message Next Steps:

These discussion questions are designed for your life group or family dinner to help you apply the message to your life.

Message video from John Burke:

Love Everyone Life By Life – Love Cares from Gateway Church on Vimeo.

Message notes from John Burke:

People everywhere are starving for a connection to a loving community like ours. All around you people long for love and connection.

Psychology Today this year stated:

Loneliness is an epidemic. We are going through times of profound social change, and the Internet and other new social technologies are huge drivers of this epidemic, allowing us to remain in touch with others without actually having to connect with them.”

Scientists have found that a lack of social connection changes brain chemistry in ways that mimic what the brain does when you’re starving. Literally people are starving for connection because we were created for community, for love.

In fact, researchers in the UK found loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health:

“…lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse [than] obesity and physical inactivity.”-End Loneliness Campaign

I got permission to read you this email that reminded me of that fact. She writes:

“At age 5, I was raped by my father and later abused by my sister.  In High School, I lived with another family and the guardian father sexually molested me.  After several suicide attempts, I learned to deal with life by using an eating disorder to feel “in control.”  I worked and I went through the motions and most people thought I was a “Happy” person, [don’t miss that “most people thought I was a happy person”] but I was “dead” inside.  I had no hope. I had hardened my heart to God and I had distanced myself from Him and other people.  I had learned to protect myself from being hurt again, at the cost of having no “real life.”

People everywhere are struggling. This is why I’m challenging you to be intentional to love the 20 neighbors and co-workers around you.

Religion Is Not The Answer

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day lost the Love and Compassion and Mercy God has for a lost, broken, hurting world. So the reason they could not accept that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah from Yahweh is because they had a very distorted view of God. Jesus cared about people the religious shunned, so he confronted their lack of mercy, compassion, and love for a world in need. This confrontation lit the fuse that would lead to the crucifixion of Jesus. Which in God’s mysterious providence, would be used to forgive us all.

But one day, “…an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 

The Religious leaders were always debating about which rules were the most important. They even made up rules to govern the rules. The Pharisees added 613 extra rules around the Law of Moses to define what a good church member was (at Gateway, we only have 2). [No cats in church, and no country western music? Kidding—God loves them both—and I’m working on it] Jesus got on the religious of his day because they created “Us/Them” religious country clubs and judged themselves as better than others—in doing so, completely missed God’s heart:

 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

Incredibly simple—love God with all you’ve got, heart, mind, soul. That’s first. As we’re going to see in this series, if you don’t learn what it means to love God and grow your trust in God, you’ll never love your neighbor or coworker with God’s Love. Why? Because they do stupid things! Their dog poops in your yard and they don’t clean it up, they gossip at work (about you), they’re too conservative or liberal. We all struggle—we all need God’s help, and we need reminders and support—which is why we’re doing this Love Everybody series. We want to care about our neighbors and coworkers, but it’s not that easy, is it?

Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to love their neighbors, not when they get difficult.

Love is the Answer

Jesus says “Love your neighbor” and we all say “Yeah, absolutely—got that. I don’t hate my neighbor, therefore I love my neighbor.” And he says, “No, Really—love your neighbor like you love yourself.” Like I love myself? You mean, I have to think about my neighbor, as much as I think about myself?— “Love your neighbor, as yourself,” You mean, I have to care about my neighbor like I care about myself—investing time, energy, even money meeting needs? That’s a bit extreme! “love your neighbor, as yourself.” You mean, I have to think about how I want to be treated, encouraged, listened to, valued–and do that for my neighbor? “Yes—love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says it’s equally important to Loving God—

A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

This is how God changes the world. [That’s why I’m challenging all of us to get intentional about loving the 20 neighbors and coworkers already in our lives—20 may feel overwhelming, don’t focus on 20, focus on the next one].

Because we don’t want to be those people Jesus talked about when he said,

“Why do you call me, ‘LordLord,’ and do not do what I say?

Sometimes it’s not our sins of commission that keep us stuck (what we do wrong), it’s our sins of omission (what we fail to do right).

Jesus

So in this series, we’re going to look at Jesus’ example and what it means to really follow Jesus in living the 2 Greatest commandments. We believe Jesus was the intersection of God’s divine nature, lived out in human flesh. The perfect representation of God’s character, in the perfect representation of what humanity was meant to be. Now, you may not believe that yet, but hopefully you’ll be open-minded and explore—cause I used to think it was a silly myth, until I studied all the historical proofs God gave that this was real.  But even if you’re not convinced yet, consider this—many people have dramatically impacted human history—most using military power and force, a few from their writings, some by good example as flawed people.  But none have had the global impact Jesus has had, claiming to show and teach what God’s love was like, serving and sacrificing himself—and calling His followers to the same. If he’s not powered by God, it’s quite an anomaly to human history and nature.  So in this series, lets look at what Jesus does because that’s what Love Does.

Love Cares!

Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36 

Jesus went to where ordinary people did life. He didn’t stay walled up in the holy huddle, and it’s important to meet together and grow spiritually like we do in Life Groups, but Jesus took his Life Group with him to meet the needs of people.  He cared about people, he had compassion on them. Why? Because Jesus could see beneath the surface—beneath the games people play…beneath the “I’m doing great—fake it til you make it—never show you’re weak side” game of life everybody plays.

Do you realize how much God cares…for you?  He has compassion on you—when you’re struggling, when you’re feeling lonely or isolated, when you’re feeling stuck or maybe even locked in a prison of addiction.  Jesus showed us that God is not standing ready to condemn, but forgive and help, all who want his forgiveness and guidance—he gives it freely.  He knows all your inner struggles—and he does care.  It’s why we are told

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 

He cares about everything you’re going through. Your worries, concerns, struggles, questions.  Because of Christ, he forgives every person who turns to him, adopts us, and wants to form us into his new family so that He can love us and show his care and concern—and here’s the catch—primarily through each other. John, the disciple of Jesus:

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:10-12

Seems to me, that’s a mistake– God uses us to show his love to each other?  Doesn’t seem to work too well. Why do it that way? Because God doesn’t just care about you, or me, but every person He created in his image, to be loved by God, and to love one another—it’s WHY He created us. So He’s teaching us to depend on His Love, and Love one another—he’s restoring us to himself and each other.

God Cares.

Love Cares—that’s what Love Does. How can we do that? Well, it’s really simple. You start to realize that God created you, loves you, and has you right where you are for a reason.

You may love your job, you may hate your job, but don’t miss the people at your job God cares about. I guarantee there are probably 8-10 people at your work, or where you play, who may look like their lives are all together, but inside many are hurting, lonely, struggling—probably don’t know how much God loves them or cares about them.

You may love where you live, or hate where you live, but don’t miss the people who live around you. I guarantee there are about 8-10 people who may look like they’ve got life by the throat, but I’ve seen too much to believe that—all people struggle in some way, eventually.

God cares, and He wants to show His care through you.

It starts by simply getting to know the names of people.  Write them down, and commit to pray for them.  Just Begin Praying for people around you. Why? What will that do? Well, it will reorient you to see what God sees—that people are longing for loving care and connection. After seeing crowds, feeling compassion, Jesus:

37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” – Matthew 9:37-38 

God wants you to see the need (the harvest), care, pray, and He wants to send you into the fields that are ripe for harvest.  Meaning there are people everywhere feeling alone, isolated, hurting, struggling—but we can’t really see that because we can’t see into people’s hearts. But God can. God knows what’s going on, God knows what people struggle with, and as you Begin Praying for people around you—watch—He will show you how to meet them in their point of pain and show He Cares. But there’s a bigger problem. We’re too busy!

We Should Not Be Too Busy to Care

We are very busy, busy, busy—but busy doing what? If God says that Loving God by letting him teach us to Love the people He’s already put in our lives—that’s most important, but we’re too busy—we busy about the wrong things. If we want to be more like Jesus, we must make ourselves available to God’s Spirit. Really, we need to Reorient – You don’t have to change what you do, you have to reorient How you do it.

Writing down names to pray for, reorients what you see throughout the day—reorients your busy day so that you can be interruptible by God.

That’s why we put a tab on our Gateway Austin App that will help reorient your busy day—not change what you do, but how you do it.

You’re not too busy, but you’re not oriented to see the right things.

In other words, you could get most all the same things done, but also become aware of how God wants you to care about people in your path because, God’s given this life to you for doing this.

We all want to be loving people but we get busy, we forget, we aren’t focused on what matters most, or we feel we don’t know what to do.

Join the Movement
  1. Download the Gateway App for iPhone OR for Android
  2. On the app, write down the people’s names. (No one but you can see the names).
  3. Start praying for them consistently.
  4. God will begin to show you how to love them with His love.

If we all learn to care for our 20 people God has brought into our lives, then 100,000 lonely and struggling people would see how much they matter, are cared for, and loved—by God.

20 is a lot of people – too many.  Start with 1.  Start praying for 1, then 2. As the list builds, take a different name each day to pray for that person—1 a day.

It’s an adventure—you’re in business with God—it’s His business, and He will show you how to do it and the payoff will be so rewarding.

Remember the woman abused by her father, isolated, dead inside? One of you showed her the love of God, she started coming to church, ends the email saying:

“I finally realized that God was calling me to Him….I was just blown away by how simple this whole thing could have been if only I would not have “fought” so hard with God.  All those years taking the wrong path because I had become so “willful.”  All those years of struggle and the answer was right before me.  I cannot believe the change. It is like I was just released from a concentration camp and I suddenly have life. The contrast from feeling oppressed to suddenly having peace and joy, is impossible to describe. “Supernatural.” I know I have a long journey ahead of me, but I realize that truly I am not alone.  I finally got the message, and I am so grateful to be alive.  Thanks Gateway Church.”

Let’s look for those who are hurting – even those who are hurting but look like they have it all together on the outside.

 

 

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