Sunday May 10th 2020. We continue our brand new sermon series ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’. Preaching from Chris Hughes.
Do you have a nick name? John had a rather complimentary one – “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” It may have been self-designated; or it could have been bestowed upon him by his fellow disciples. If the truth be told we don’t really know; but the name is mentioned on five occasions in the Gospel narrative (John 13 v 23 / 19 v 26 / 20 v 2 / & 21 v 7 + 20.)
If you were to ask John, the question – What is your primary identity? He would not have said – a fisherman; a Gospel writer; or the longest serving of all the apostles. He would have referred to his nick name – “I am the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He saw himself as a recipient of amazing and outrageous grace.
Take home truth – You need to see your primary identity not in what you do; not it how people perceive you; not in what folk say about you; but rather as – “the disciple whom Jesus loves” (Galatians 2 v 20.)
Now it may well be that during this pandemic you have started to doubt God’s love for you and felt a sense of disconnect. Take away the virus, and this was exactly the scenario facing the believers in Rome. Their circumstances seemed to be a denial of God’s love for them. And so, the apostle Paul writes to reassure them that what God has started in their lives with salvation, he will ultimately bring to completion with glorification; and that whatever may happen in between, nothing will be able to separate them from the love of God.
Based on personal experience (2 Corinthians 11 v 23 – 29) he lists some of the things that could potentially separate them and you from the love of God – trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, demons, the present or the future, powers, height and depth (Romans 8 v 35 – 39.) Such experiences are not simply to be endured with fortitude, rather they are to be overcome and triumphed over, because they are designed, not to separate you from God’s love, but to facilitate your spiritual growth (Romans 5 v 3 – 5), as God uses them for you, rather than against you (Romans 8 v 28.)
The last one on the list that is unable to separate you from the love of God is a general phrase – “nor anything else in all creation.” This means that not even Covid 19 will be able to separate you from the love of God because you are – “the disciple whom Jesus loves.” He loves you so much that what he has started in your life he will bring to ultimate completion when you stand before him in glory; and in the mean-time, come what may, he will continue to love you every step of the way.
Challenge – Are you assured of your identity and of God’s love for you?
Points to Ponder.
1 – What is your primary identity? What would be your answer to this question?
2 – When all is going wrong, and your circumstances seem to be screaming that God no longer loves you – how do you respond?
3 – During this pandemic period what are some of the things that God is using to enable you to spiritually mature?
- I’m accepted, I’m forgiven
- I’m special
- Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
- Amazing grace
- Here is love vast as the ocean
- I stand amazed when I realise
Theme: The identity crisis!
Reading: Romans 8 v 35 – 39
Preacher: Chris Hughes