Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as Christians we openly confess that You are the most important Person in our lives. We confess that we love You more than anyone or anything else—including ourselves. And yet, while we are good at confessing that truth with our mouths, we need to become better at confessing it with our actions. Today equip us to do so, and in the process, make us into concerned, caring, and compassionate Christians. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO CARES FOR YOU!
TEXT: Matthew 10: 34-42
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
We live in an area surrounded by 3 ½ million people. The roads are clogged with cars on our commutes, the subway cars filled. I’ll bet hardly a week goes by that every one of you doesn’t think: “O, to be alone! To have peace and quiet and no people hounding me!” If you ever get the chance, read Admiral Richard Byrd’s book: “Alone.” It details how he was forced by circumstances to remain all alone at the South Pole in a little shack during the winter of 1938. He tells how his mind played tricks on him and how such enforced loneliness expressed itself in dark moods and even despair. Loneliness is not really all it’s cracked up to be. For loneliness means vulnerability, and no human enjoys feeling vulnerable.
Because of this fact, people band together to support and help one another. Families are the simplest support group. Communities are another. Labor unions were early examples of a care-giving group. Another would be the chamber of commerce. Today we have hundreds of thousands of formal and informal groups which seek to assist their members—ranging from homeowners associations to substance abuse groups to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It seems very few really want to be all alone with their struggles in life. Even Christians have support groups. We call them congregations. And this brings us to the point of today’s text. Right here Jesus says that His believers have a special responsibility toward one another. Yes,
DEAR CHRISTIAN, WE CARE ABOUT YOU!
Generally when it comes to helping and supporting people in need we think of our families. If each family truly practiced Christian love toward one another, than no one would ever lack anything. But, you and I know that it just isn’t that way. Thus, how thankful we are that God has given us brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, that extend far beyond mere human blood-lines.—For as Christians we all belong to that glorious family of God called the Holy Christian Church!
Who is your real family? No doubt, the first thing that comes to mind is: my father, mother, brothers and sisters, my blood relatives. They are the ones I feel closest to. They are the ones that I have the most in common with. They are the ones with whom I possess the Spirit of unity and the bond of peace.—But are they? Christ says: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
When Christ’s love and allegiance to Him fills a person’s heart, often the unfortunate result is division. And often that division can rear its ugly head among our blood relatives. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. It’s sad. Divisions among families are manifold. Money can cause tremendous problems—especially when an inheritance is involved. Jealousy is common among siblings. With our mobile population just being separated by the miles causes people to grow apart instead of together. Simply growing up together and sharing the same parents does not insure that you’ll get along. And if you couple that fact with the increasing pressures to give up Christian values and morals, to drift from any allegiance to God’s Word, you have the makings for a whole lot of heartache and family discord.
So, who is your real family? What criteria should you use to answer that question? Well, obviously truly happy families are those who are alike on the inside. Physical looks don’t breed oneness, but inner harmony does. So, who shares your views that Christ is the Lord of your life? That His Word is truth—binding no us regardless of what our flesh may say? Who loves you unconditionally, just as you are? Who doesn’t want to remake you in their own little image, but instead wants to help you grow in the image of God? You know the answer. It is your fellow Christians. Yes, mom and dad are important. Yes, they will always have a special place in your heart. But our heavenly Father is more important. His place is more special. And His family will outlast any earthly one. For God’s family is forever!
Families are based on love. The love bond keeps them together. For it fosters harmony and peace. So, I ask you, are you worthy of each other’s love? But before you answer, listen to our text. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Christ spoke those words because He was very concerned about exactly how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ. So, how do you treat one another? Do you honor each other because in so doing, you realize you’re really honoring Christ? Do you go out of your way to be supportive of each other, sharing problems, knowing that thereby you are building up the very body of Christ? Do you take time, make time, for your earthly family, but seldom go out of your way for your eternal family? None of us is perfect when it comes to sharing our hearts with either our earthly or spiritual family. But, Jesus was! He cared so much about us that He took the time to come to earth, to live in perfect compassion for all, and finally even to lose His life to save our lives! And He gives us His heavenly perfection through simple, humble faith in Him. What love! Truly we love Him because He first loved us—and proved it! And it is because of this love that He wants each of us to shower our fellow believers with special care, concern, and compassion. He wants us to give to them what He has given to each of us!
Listen to these words and think about what they mean for your life. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet, will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones (children) because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
Helping others on earth garners an earthly thank-you and an earthly sense of feeling good. Terrific. But helping a fellow Christian, quietly and without fanfare, shows that Christ’s unconditional love has become firmly planted in your heart. It shows that we truly do believe that by honoring each other we honor Christ. Moreover, that kind of unselfishness, indeed, that kind of self-giving love will receive a special recompense in heaven.
Today, by confessing Christ you have said with your mouth that you’re willing to lose yourself, your envy, your shyness, your careless overlooking of other Christians, in order to gain a heart of true gratitude, that sacred heart, that Christ seeks to give you. So now, get busy! Be a whole person! Cause your words and actions to correspond! Take time for each other. Talk to each other. Treat one another with mutual respect. Get to really know one another. Be there for each other in times of sorrow and times of joy. Support each other by supporting the work of Christ among you with your time, special talents, and yes, your money, too. In this life you can and should be able to always count on your fellow Christians. For the tie that binds you together won’t be severed when you die. No, it will last an eternity! Here at church you possess the unity of purpose and love that every family dreams of. Here there are no black sheep. Only forgiven ones. Christ says today: “Dear Christian I Care About You!” May our words and actions mesh together to form a resounding chorus that exclaims most loudly: Yes, Dear Christian, We Care About You, too! Amen