Called to love the unlovely
FEBRUARY 4, 2021
Called to love the unlovely. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and suffers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So if you’re hungry for the hope, the truth that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at Galatians, fourth chapter in our study in Galatians, and we’re looking at verses 12 through 20, and I’m not going to read that to you. We’ve already done that this week, but I’m going to be referring to it as we go along. And if you have a Bible, you might want to keep it open, as we go through some of this material. Paul, we have seen is talking to brand new Christians. It was a happy circumstance ordained by the God of the universe that something physical was wrong with Paul, and he was forced to go and live with these people for a while. And he figured since I’m in the hospital room, since I’m hurting and since I got a wait to be healed, I might do something productive, so he talked about Jesus. And God brought great results. I have a friend who just got out of the hospital, and I said, how are you doing? He said, well, I’m better, but when I was bad, I talked about Jesus a lot and you wouldn’t believe what happened. And he began to go over the people he had met and the one person became a Christian. Another is very close, because he didn’t waste his downtime. And I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that, but don’t waste the downtime. If you have the hospital, ahead of you, say something about Jesus. When you’re in an accident and before you cuss and spit, say something about Jesus. You’d be surprised what God will do with that. But anyway, Paul, had a physical ailment. He was forced to go and live with the Galatians and he told them about Jesus. And God gave the fruit and he was called to love them. Look at Galatians 4:19-20.
My little children, with whom I am again and travail until Christ be formed in you. I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone.
Now that phrase, my little children is a term of endearment and love and note that Paul says that he would like to see them face to face so he could change his tone. What is he saying? Just this. You would then be able to hear the sound of the love and concern in my tone of voice. You know, babies can be wonderful, but they can be a hassle to do, you know, and they’re mostly ugly when they’re first born, but we don’t say that. I mean, occasionally there’s a pretty baby and all babies are pretty, right? But honest, I remember thinking when our daughters were born, God must like me a lot. They are the most beautiful babies that God ever gave to anybody in the history of the world. And I told them, and I loved them and I was so proud of them. And then a year later I looked at pictures of them when they were little and frankly, they were pretty ugly. Well, that’s true with new Christians, too. New Christians are enthusiastic. They say things that can be quite irritating. They miss the mark a lot of times. And when they first sin, they’re surprised that they thought they’d never sin again. And then that can be really devastating and you gotta deal with that, but you are called above everything else to manifest an unconditional love. Babies can be wonderful, but they’re not always wonderful. New Christians, I’m just thinking of stories. And I’m thinking to myself, Steve, you shouldn’t say that. So I’m not, cause I’ll embarrass people, but I can’t tell you sometimes when you just want them to leave you alone, to not take so much time, to not be so needy at the beginning, but you can’t do that, because the manifestation that we are called to give to them is unconditional love when they sin instead of admonishment and how could you, there should be a hug. There should be times when we say to them, I don’t agree with you on that, but we can still love each other and be friends, even if we disagree. It means, reaching out. I had a friend, this was in West Virginia and we were having dinner when I was speaking there. And he pointed to a mountain up beside the restaurant, where we were having dinner. And he said, you see that mountain? And I said, yeah, he said, I’m going to confess something to you, right after I became a Christian, I guess I’d been a Christian about a year. I went up on that mountain and I looked over our town and I said, Lord, I’m the only one left. And I said, what a God say? He said, he laughed at me. I said, what did the people in the church say. He said they loved me anyway. That’s one of the reasons he’s still around. And one of the reasons he’s still serving. New Christians sometimes can, can irritate, but that’s the point of the love. It’s unconditional. How do you do that? Well, you let God love you. His love for you is unconditional. I’ll tell you, no matter how irritating new Christians can be, they’re not nearly as irritating as I could be with God. And yet, and yet he loves me anyway. And in so far as I allow that and open my heart to it. Then I’m able to love others who were in the same position with me, that I am with God. Oh my, the principal, and I’ve said it a lot is really important. You can’t love until you’ve been loved. And then you can only love to the degree to which you have been loved. You remember, I’ve probably told you about the farm boy who went to his girlfriend, Jane. And he said, Jane, I’ve been loving you for a long time and I’d be mighty proud if you’d be my wife. And she said, John, I’ve been loving you too for a long time. And I would love to be your wife. And he went home and knelt by his bed and he looked up at the sky and he said, Lord, I ain’t got nothing against nobody now. That’s how you get it. You allow yourself to be loved, but it’s very important that the discipline not be exercised in the wrong way. We had a friend who lived with us for a long time. She’d come from a very bad family. And, she was college age and we suggested that she go to it a very strong, but pretty disciplined Bible college. And, one morning at one in the morning, she decided to go out and take a walk in the city where this Bible college was, and that was just not done. And she, and they were going to kick her out. And I’ll called the Dean, and I said, Oh, don’t do that. This is a time when she needs to be loved and affirmed, give her 18,000 demerits, but don’t kick our out. It’s important that she be loved, because this is the beginning of something really important. And she’s an amazing minister, of the gospel of Jesus Christ to this day, because of what happened in that Bible college. What am I saying? I’m not saying that you coddle new Christians, but you let them know that you’re mine. God has given you to me as my brother and my sister. And you’re going to have to deal with me until the day I die or you die, because God put us together. And I want you to know that I love you, and I’m going to love you, even if you don’t want me to love you. I’m going to stick with you through thick and thin, even if you don’t want me to stick with you through thick and thin. I’m going to love you no matter what. And so, we’re called as Christians with new Christians, just a review, so you know, to model for them, to identify with them, to accept them and be honest with them, to protect them and to love them. And then at some point, we’ll join the hands and stand before the throne, all of us mature and perfect, and just like Jesus. Hey, you think about that. Amen,
Steve Brown there, wrapping up this week’s teachings from Galatians four. If you missed any episodes, make sure you visit us at keylife.org to listen to those for free, 24 seven. And don’t miss tomorrow’s show. Of course, that would be Friday Q&A. That’s the time when our friend Pete Alwinson swings by and together, Steve and Pete answered the challenging questions you’ve sent in, tomorrow they’ll touch on divorce, remarriage and abuse. Like I said, they tackle the big stuff. Don’t miss tomorrow’s show. Well, I don’t have to tell you a good story, well told is one of the greatest gifts we get to experience. What if I told you that Steve wrote a story? Yes. A fictional story. It’s it’s a parable, really, all about a boy who loved music. And baked into every detail of this beautiful parable is the essence of Key Life’s teaching on grace, at the heart of God’s message to us. The story fits on the size of a booklet yet, even though it’s brief, you will never forget it. Get your copy while supplies last by calling 1-800-539-5433. That’s just 1-800-KEY-LIFE. You can also email [email protected] and ask for the booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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