We kicked off our new “What If?” Series last night. The night started off with a new game called “Pinch an Inch”. This is a game where each student receives a clothespin, and tries to pin it on someone else before the music stops. Any student that still has a clothespin stuck to them when the music stops is out. The game is over when only one student is left:) It was amusing to see 28 students running, twisting, and turning trying to avoid being “pinched”!
Our new series is “What If?” We’ve all asked ourselves a “what if” question before. What if I had only…? What if I had another chance? Etc. This series is going to look at three “What If?” questions, and last night, we looked at the question, “What If— We Loved Like Jesus?”
There were three things that we looked at that God’s love does:
1. God’s Love Unleashes Our Potential (John 20:19-21NIV)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
The disciples were scared for their lives after seeing Jesus be crucified, so they locked themselves in a room. Many of us are locked in a room as well. The only difference is that the rooms we are locked in are invisible rooms made out of fear. Many people become afraid to work towards achieving their full potential because they are afraid of what others will think, afraid to fail, and afraid to be alone in the process. We see in John 20 that Jesus did not criticize the disciples for a lack of faith or being afraid. Jesus encourages them, and let’s them know that he was sending them out to show the world his love with the same power and authority that he came into the world with.
What if we loved those around us like Jesus so that their walls of fear were torn down and their full potential in Jesus was unleashed?
2. God’s Love Does Not Condemn (John 8:1-11)
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around
him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using
this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The teachers and leaders humiliated and condemned this woman in front of Jesus and the crowd he was teaching. Jesus made it clear that they were all guilty of sin and in need of a Savior. Jesus showed unconditional love to this women instead of condemning her. Jesus DID NOT condone what this women had done (he told her to go and leave her life of sin). The love that he showed this woman showed her that he believed that she had worth, was important, and motivated her to pursue a better way of life!
What if we loved people like Jesus and showed them that they were loved and believed in by their Creator instead of condemning them and talking about them with other students?
3. God’s Love Never Gives Up (John 21:15-19)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter had messed up BIG TIME! He adamantly denied even knowing Jesus (in an earlier passage), and probably thought his ministry and plan for his life was forever damaged. What Peter didn’t realize was that Jesus never gave up on him! Jesus still believed that Peter could change the world. This passage in John 21 shows Jesus reinstating Peter. Peter went from completely caving in to peer pressure and adamantly denying Jesus to boldly proclaiming his life-changing love and freedom to others later in Scripture. You’ll actually find out from taking a look at the end of Peter’s life that Peter died being crucified upside down because he refused to be crucified the same way as his Savior, and he boldly identified himself with Jesus! It doesn’t matter how bad the mistakes are that we’ve made. What really matters is that God’s love is stronger than any problem, habits, or mistakes that we may struggling with.
People’s lives are RADICALLY transformed when they are introduced to the love of Jesus by those around them!
What If… We loved people like Jesus?