The following is the transcript from the December 20, 2015
service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.
1. Love: Changes Herod’s World (culture).
While many Herods are mentioned in the Bible, this was Herod the Great, named king over all four political districts of Palestine by the Roman Senate. He ruled from 37 to 4 B.C. The history of the Herod family is filled with lies, murder, treachery, and adultery.
Although Herod the Great was a ruthless, evil man who murdered many in his own family, he also supervised the renovation of the temple, making it much larger and more beautiful, as well as overseeing other building projects. This made him popular with many Jews. After Herod’s death, the districts were divided among three separate rulers.
We later read about Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas, who killed John the Baptist (Mark 6:26-28) and taunted Jesus (Luke 23:6-12).
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have another child, and they have given it a not-unexpected unique name.
Without a doubt, people can become “saints.” But its significance cannot be bestowed by a parent.
If you are in a relationship with Christ as your Forgiver and Leader – if you have crossed that line – you have been declared positionally, by God, to be a saint. That's how God views you, that's who He has declared you to be, that's who you are.
The word itself means "Those who are set apart," meaning someone who is no longer part of a world of sin. Someone who no longer has sin staining them, stenching them, and attaching itself to them. In declaring you a saint God is in essence saying, “You are no longer what you were, or who you were. Whatever you have done, however you have lived, will not be the final word, much less the defining reality of your life.”
But there’s more to the identity that awaits us in Christ than merely being declared a saint by God positionally through forgiveness. He also wants to develop us into saints functionally. When you become a Christian, God has a very clear agenda for your life. It’s to take your life, and have you become the person He has declared you to be.
2. Love: Changes the Wise Men (people seeking)
During my sickness this past week, I watched an amazing NASA video of the universe (which you can click here to view). It takes your breath away.
(For the record, it's a mammoth 1.5 billion pixel image (69,536 x 22,230) and requires about 4.3 GB disk space. If you want another picture go to this site where on January 5, NASA released an image of the Andromeda galaxy, our closest galactic neighbor, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The full image is made up of 411 Hubble images, takes you through a 100 million stars and travels over more than 40,000 light years.)
This video reminds me of how awesome God is and small and tiny earthlings are. Be sure to check out where earth fits in all of this stellar landscape.
Can you imagine? The God of all who uses the earth as His footstool (Isaiah 66:1); Who sets the stars in place (Psalm 8:3); Who gathered the water to make dry land (Genesis 1:9) is the same God who chose to humble Himself to take on the form of humanity and come to us as an infant.
It’s simply astounding! Philippians 2:5-7 tells us,
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (NIV)
Have you ever thought about what this verse means? I think about it occasionally and then move on to other things. The implications on my life that the God of the universe took on human limitations are mind boggling!
I consider all this about God – and then there’s me. Humility is so not part of my vocabulary. The first line in Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren says, “It’s not about me.” The truth is that for most of us, it’s almost always about ourselves.
And then, there’s Jesus. He was 100 percent human and 100 percent divine. So how did His human part not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant? Most of us would be grabbing, grasping, straining at anything that would give us more power.
I believe Jesus was so committed to His role in redeeming humankind that He simply chose to go to the cross so that you and I could be set free to accept or reject His offer of salvation. Serving was at His core!
If I can follow His model of being so committed to my role of serving those around me – at home, work, church, community, city, etc. – then maybe I can begin to live a life of humility. Maybe then I will gladly give up my own rights, plans, etc. for others!
When I think of humility and who might emulate it in some ways, I always consider …
Mother Teresa. She went to live among the poorest of the poor, to serve them in every way she could.
Those among us who have served our country through our military, to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf so that the freedoms we enjoy might continue.
- Missionaries and others who have gone to unknown places around the world, to share the Name and Message of Jesus
- Parents who sacrifice their own personal goals and agenda for their children, to raise up a strong, loving and faithful next generation
Who do you consider when you think of a life of humility? What one step can you take today to becoming a more humble person?
3. Love: Changes Us (personally/community)
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone—Galatians 6:10
Once we’ve decided to do something, we, mostly us men, often like to “go big.” We think to ourselves: if we’re going to do this thing, let’s really do it. We can bring this kind of thinking, this “go big” mentality, to all kinds of work, even the work God calls us into—that is, the work of loving and serving others.
Great things can result, of course. But the mentality can backfire, too—for example, when we set our ambitions too high, get overwhelmed, and can’t follow through. It’s interesting that, knowing us as he does, our King, Jesus Christ, suggests an opposite approach:
“This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice” (Matthew 10:40-42 MSG).
Start small! Why does something rise up in our hearts, against that approach? Well, it’s mostly because by “going big” we hope to grab a little glory for ourselves. We want others to see us and think well of us. And if we don’t “go big,” they might not actually see our accomplishments.
But, Jesus reassures us: “You won’t lose out on a thing” (Matthew 10:42 MSG). We must trust his words and trust that God the Holy Spirit can do amazing things within even our smallest, most ordinary acts of love and service. And that’s plenty big for any of us.
The wise men were overjoyed at finding the Christ Child. If you think becoming a Christian means putting on a long face and behaving like a person in a straitjacket, think again. Finding Christ brings real joy – deeper than winning at sports, more enduring that the first test drive in that new car – this joy fills the soul and makes you glad. This joy comes from knowing the depth of God’s love and when we taste that reality – God then changes us – individually and corporately.
Have you been on a journey to find yourself, to find love, satisfaction, or some sense of what this life is all about? There’s joy at the end of that journey when you find Christ.