March 29 Esight, 2009

1 Peter 4:7-11

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.Last weekend I was privileged to be able to share the Gospel alongside some of the most remarkable friends I have met so far in my travels. One such friend was Dr. Gregory Boyd, pastor of the Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul Minnesota and professor at Bethel University.

I was so moved, especially by Greg’s presentations. He presented three talks during the weekend: his own journey out of atheism into faith, why he holds a belief in the historical validity of the Gospels, and what I found to be the clearest and most moving presentation I have ever witnessed on what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.

There was one phrase that jumped out at me that, seven days later, I still have echoing over and over in my head:

“Above all . . . LOVE!” (1 Peter 4:8)

That means above everything. Above all else.

Paul put it this way:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Especially in the area of religion, we are too often overly concerned about being right, rather than being Godly. God is Love (1 John 4:8). This is the truest “mark” by which to know that we really are following the truth: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Jesus himself also said to the Pharisees of His day, “If God were your Father, you would love . . .” (John 8:42). John the beloved wrote, “Let us love one another . . . everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

I’d like to share the opening passage to you from the Message Bible as well:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (1 Peter 4:7-11, The Message)

How, then, is this love to be found in us? Only by love is love awakened. We only love “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Is it the mandate to, “above ALL,” love something that you find your own heart gravitating toward, longing to follow as well? Then I lift up to you the greatest revelation of love ever manifested before human eyes—the cross of Christ. When His sacrifice is truly understood in the hearts of those who claim to be His followers, then His love, in our treatment of all whom we come into contact with, will be manifest among His followers as well.

The end of all things is at hand! May we not only grasp the love that’s in God’s heart toward us, but may we also, ABOVE ALL . . . Love!

You may find it encouraging to read what Greg himself, a Baptist, experienced this weekend preaching alongside a bunch of Gospel-centered Sevies.

If you would like to, you can find Greg’s blog at:

http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/the-good-news-tour/

I wish you God’s best this week.