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John 1:14 in the Message says… "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood."
God moved into our neighborhood! Jesus lives as one of us, loves as one of us, even likes us while He is one of us. Now as you probably know, there are four words in the Greek language that we translate into the English word love. We in the church make a big deal about the agape love, the unconditional love of God. But the other words are just as important.
Think about this for a moment. Which is the harder statement, for me to say, “I love you” or to say, “I like you”? I could argue that liking someone is way harder than loving. I could definitely love you but not like you.
When the Pharisees were ticked off at Jesus in Matthew 11:19... when they call him a friend of tax collectors and sinners... they are not accusing Jesus of loving them. They are accusing him of liking them. The Greek word used is philos which is a form of phileo. That was the problem they had with Jesus.
Now obviously Jesus’ mission involved agape or unconditional love. But for Jesus, agape went hand in hand with philos. And for the Pharisees, liking sinners couldn’t be tolerated. They were accusing Jesus of being their friend. That was the problem.
Do you believe that God not only loves you but he also likes you? As good as it is to know that God is for us and with us, it amazes us that God is one of us… and that he likes us. When people discover this truth, they are usually no longer sad to be in his presence.
Jesus, by putting on flesh, by coming to and living in our neighborhood... becoming one of us, by dying for us and paying the price for our sin… by liking us… He removes the barrier between us and God and gives us the opportunity to enter into a right relationship with Him… not one of fear but of love! Amazing news!
And this good news is what often compels people, us, to invite Jesus into our lives, to be our King. That kind of God is the one we want to be our King. And Jesus leaves us His Spirit who changes our heart, passing into us the DNA of Jesus into our lives. It’s his presence in our lives that empowers us to live as Jesus here on earth… to be His light in this otherwise dark world. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.
This was the mission that God the Father gave Jesus the Son, to GO, move into the neighborhood, and make disciples, followers of him, of all nations, all people, baptizing them, having them die to their old selfish dark ways and come to life in a new loved-filled light-filled way, teaching them to obey everything He has commanded them to do.
Hold it! That is our commission, that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28. Could it be possible that Jesus is handing to us, the body of Christ, the same mission that God the Father gave Him? To move into the neighborhood, as dark as it might seem, and love AND like those we meet, to be for them and with them and become one of them, so that they too might be followers of Christ… disciples who make disciples!
(an excerpt from Pastor Brian's message last Sunday)