To abound in Christ’s love means to live as sunshine people - unashamed of the gospel and joyously inviting others into the fullness of life with Jesus.
Great to see everyone. Blessings to all of you as we make our way into the new year. Woo. Wow. Let’s keep that momentum going. Let’s keep growing. Our series, our new year’s series is to abound and it’s my prayer that all of us would ah abound more and more in the love of Jesus that we would grow.
Our knowledge of him would continue to expand. I want to also say hello to all of you. Uh, my friends and fans. Church family, online, near and far wherever you are. I like to say this too. If you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, lead pastor here at Cornerstone church in San Francisco. And we are just delighted to have you with us today.
Our message, our teaching is called Sunshine People. Uh, it’s a title that I think you’re going to hopefully be able to connect with because, I know it has a double meaning, right? I think some of you’ve already figured that one out, sunshine people in the sense that we want to let the sun shine in that we want to have the warmth of Christ at work in our lives.
So we want to have the light of who he is working and moving through us sun as an S U N like the sunshine, just to be a people who are optimistic, filled with joy, but also sonshine S O N that we want the presence of the living Jesus to be flowing through us, that the risen son, uh, would work in our lives in such a way that others are affected by that reality.
Like Jesus taught us that his light, might so shine in us that, that others might see it and glorify the father who is in heaven. So I just want to pray right now and ask God to bless our word together. And so just pray with me. But Lord, I do ask that you would help us to be a sunshine. People filled with an era -press irrepressible joy, and that we would just abound,
not just with optimism and hope, even in challenging times, like the ones that we’re in right now, but that we would also abound in your love. That is my prayer. So just meet us, as we look at your words together, inspire us, stir our hearts and give us a passion for your ways and a hunger to be better. And also in some cases help us Lord to, to not give up,
or a yield to our sense of defeat or even shame and guilt, but to just trust you right now and allow you to flow in fresh new ways. That’s my prayer for all of us in Jesus name. I want to start by revisiting a key passage for us passage. We’ve been sitting with now for weeks, Philippians one, I’m just going to read it through fairly quickly, Paul and Timothy servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ, Jesus who are at Philippi that
he was writing to the church at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons, grace to you and peace from God, our father and the Lord. Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy. It’s good for us to pray for people we love. It, it really is, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
And I am sure of this, that he, who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. That’s a promise for all of us verse seven. It is right for me, he says, to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment, Paul was in prison at the time.
I think a lot of us are aware of that, and in the defense of the confirmation of the gospel for God is my witness. How I yearn for you all, I would love to see you. I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And here is that verse. The verse that we’re sitting with the key verse for our church.
Yes. For the year, it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge. Yes. And all discernment. This is our desire. This is our quest. This is what our church community is committing itself to the idea of, in our love for him that our love would abound with more and more discernment and understanding that we would grow in our capacity to love the Lord better, to receive his love better, to love others, better, to love, bettering community, to love the people who are closest to us.
And even those, you know, who we meet along the way of life. That that would be the dominant theme of our life, but then look what he does in verse 10. He makes a small, but not insignificant shift. And it’s something that we’ve been sitting with for the past two weeks, verse 10, so that you may approve. He says, the reason I want you to grow in love more and more in a -bound is that you may approve what is excellent.
That’s why it’s important to have that knowledge and discernment and in, so doing, be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Now, this really is a, a loving reminder. I need to say. That not everything is to be loved and affirmed indiscriminately and thoughtlessly. And I realized that’s a little bit of a counter cultural notion because what we were actually being reminded of here is that mature Christian Love far from being tolerant of everything actually testifies. It, testifies that that is not the case, that there are some things,
you know, maybe affirmed as loving or right by the majority culture, the prevailing culture of what we might call our world that actually may be in God’s eyes, unloving, a life diminishing, and in some cases, even, even sinful. So we need to have the ability to discern the kind of love that the Lord is calling us to abound in.
It’s not the everything goes kind of love. Uh, just, you know, affirming everything. It really can’t be, it never can be that. And look what it says in Proverbs 11. There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof, boy, it’s, it’s the way of death. And, you know, Jesus talked about, uh, the narrow road of life.
I mean, he talked about how he was that narrow road. He said that I am the way the truth and the life, you can’t get to God but through me, I mean, that’s a pretty significant statement that our Lord made. I was reminded of something CS Lewis wrote and in his amazing book, Mere Christianity. And I think a lot of you realize what a significant, a blessing CS Lewis was, the contribution he has made to Christian thinking.
This figure from the 20th century who stands out, he was a really a unique writer and his words continue to have resonance for believers. And even for those who are seekers. Yeah. Because at least in part, I think it was the way in which he captured, uh, what faith looks like. And he was able to identify the nature of life from a perspective that could appeal both to intellectuals, but also to everyday people.
And there was also a part of him that loved, I think you’re, you’re aware of this, that loved, uh, did the, the idea of, of fantasy and using your imagination. That’s why he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. And so in, so doing, he also has, uh, has the ability to connect with people who are artistic and he reminds us that we can actually honor God with our imagination.
Okay. I said all that to say, this Lewis wrote in mere Christianity, he said, We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, look at this progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road. In that case, the man who turns back soon, is, is the most progressive, is look what he’s saying.
We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road. That’s what progress looks like: going back to the right road. Jesus said, look, I have come that you might have life and have it abundant and overflowing. He, uh, uh, he, he wants us to abound in his love and yet he made it clear that it was going to require something.
And that is, it was going to require a willingness to surrender, a willingness to deny ourselves, a willingness, and he used this phrase, to take up our cross daily and follow. That is, it means that Jesus is saying, if you’re going to follow me, it’s going to involve a willingness to surrender our notions of what matters most in life.
Think about that. He will, he will ask us to surrender our fears, our doubts, but also our autonomy and our sense of our truest identity. While one may say that’s, as people have said, this, that’s that’s a steep price. I’m not sure I want to do that. Some people when they’re really confronted with what Jesus is asking may decide they don’t want to do it, or they just feel like they can’t do it, or at least not at this time in their life.
And I’ve met a lot of people like that. They’re attracted to Jesus, the ways of Jesus appeal to their sense of purpose. There’s something that resonates in their heart. When they look at what they have to give up what they have to surrender, what they have to potentially yield. Well, like the rich young ruler of the gospels that Jesus had an exchange with.
There are times where they will walk away, sorrowfully, because if those are the terms, they may not want to accept them. At least not now. And I would say to you, if you’re right on the edge of accepting Christ into your life, If you’ve been weighing it out, but you’re afraid of what you have to give up. I just need to remind you don’t hold on to things that in the end, you’re going to left to let go of any way, surrender now to the way of Jesus.
You’ll never regret it. And I always tell people, if you want to accept him as your savior, we’re here to help you. If you want to start to grow as follower of Jesus, we’re here to help you. Just let us know. You can send a note in a, with a few of our pastors, we’ll be right there to follow up with you. But Lewis went on to write in another one of his books called God in the Dock, look what he says here.
Just check it out. And he says, if you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, he says, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I think about that. And if you read the original full quote, it goes, it goes like this. I just think it’s worth, it’s worth us just enjoying together. He says, I don’t, I didn’t go to religion to make me happy.
He says, I always knew a bottle of port, a bottle of wine would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable. I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I mean, how’s that for a sales pitch? But what he’s saying is that if it’s only temporal happiness, that is the objective. If that’s the goal, the real goal of your life, then there are other options.
Don’t go to Jesus because you can get that in, in at least in some small doses in different ways. I mean, he says you can get it with a bottle of wine, a bottle of port. But what he’s saying is if you’re really looking for joy and depth and meaning and the life that is truly life, then Jesus is the answer.
And it’s an answer that carries over past this life into the next. But Lewis also went on to say, and this’ll be the last time I refer to him, but he went on to say this in that same book, God in the Dock, in the dock. Um, and it’s in the session called Christian apologetics, but he says Christianity, if false, is of no importance and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately
important. Just think about that for a moment. Christianity, if false, is of no importance, I think why bother with it? If Jesus isn’t really who he said he was, but if it is true, then it’s of infinite importance. I mean, it is the pearl of great price. It is everything, but there’s one thing he cannot be, moderately important, a ho hum kind of religiosity that
misses the real life of Christ. Jesus forces us to decide like you’re either in, or you’re not. Either follow me or don’t, but that third way that making him something moderately important that we just kind of slide into our general life plan, but not as the priority, that way, that can’t produce anything. It it’s destined to, to bring about mediocre results.
And listen, either he is who he is, who he says he is, or he isn’t, if he’s not then as the great apostle, Paul said, let’s not waste our time. But if he is, let’s give him the best of our time. I’ll say that one more time. If he’s not who he says he is, if he isn’t the risen savior, then let’s not waste our time.
But if he is who he says he is, then let’s give him the best of our time. I really think that’s the way to go. If I may say it that way, I think the Lord is calling us upwards. He’s calling us into his love in the fullness of Christ and well, let’s go back to verses nine and 10. He says it and he, Paul writes and it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment.
And that sets us up for verse 10. And I want to sit a little bit more with it so that you may approve what is excellent. And so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. I talked about how God wants us to be a sunshine people. Now we get a chance to look at what the sunshine life of love looks like. One of the things it does we see here is that it approves that, which is excellent.
The Greek word that well, it just suggests that, which is most vital and important. When you say excellent. Speaking of something that comparatively is far more valuable. The image conveyed here is one that would have been very familiar to people of the ancient Greco-Roman world that the apostle was writing to.
It would have been like that of someone say examining and comparing the relative quality of a garment or a piece of jewelry or something that maybe even was more utilitarian, like, like a jar that, you know, they were, they were thinking of purchasing. They were, they were trying to, the idea here, is trying to assess its true value and that would involve examination, thoughtfulness and a knowledge base was always helpful.
Right. So if you had an idea of what was good, it would help you to discern it. This was something that was a valuable or an appropriate purchase for what was for the price that was being asked to purchase it in the same way. The apostle is reminding all of us, that is, God’s sunshine people. We are to love from a discerning perspective.
And that really does. I need to say this because I need to say this. It really does presuppose a knowledge and a familiarity with his words, the Bible, the scriptures. That’s, you know, that’s why we are told we were reminded again and again, to couple our love for Christ. Um, the love that we would have fill our lives with knowledge and discernment, otherwise.
What we may do is drift into a faulty definition of love, that is more determined by sentiment or feelings, how we feel, uh, or it may be that we determine it by what, as I mentioned earlier with the culture tells us is most loving and valuable. And that’s one thing I’ve come to realize is I don’t, I don’t trust the culture to tell me what is loving and valuable.
I don’t, because it can change so quickly. From one generation to the next, and it can change even within, within just a span of a year, few years, depending on the winds of culture, it’ll shift, you know, this is what love is. This is what love is. This is what loving people do. That’s not how the Lord has called us to live.
It’s he, he has invited us into a much more secure and deeper place, but it’s going to involve us having a working knowledge of his word. That’s why becoming a student of scripture is so important. In other words, it gives us that knowledge base at a capacity to discern what is excellent. It helps us to be able to love, well, not just to love on the basis of what other people are telling us love looks like or on the basis of how we feel, because feelings can be -tray us.
We can’t just always go by how we feel that can lead us down a wrong path. The Bible reminds us that there is a huge, uh, you know, value in studying the scripture. And really engaging in conversation around them, deepening our knowledge of, of what God would want us to understand the principles, the words of Jesus, the teaching of the epistles, the backgrounds of the old Testament, that gift of the Psalms and the Proverbs.
I mean, there’s so much there for us. Look what it says here in second, Timothy, two 15 as Paul instructed, young Timothy to remember this, do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth, you know, think about what you do
occupationally. Many of you have skillsets, you know, how to handle certain tools. Some of them have to do with technology. Some of them have to do with things that you work with with your hands. But the bottom line is that skill set, that understanding, that knowledge base is huge when it comes to solving problems.
It’s what creates a niche for us, that idea of being an expert or becoming adept at certain skills. So that we are able to utilize the tools that we know are part of the trade. Well, in the same way, you, this is not just for someone who is. a pastor, it’s certainly is that, but it’s for all of us who are believers, because we’re all called to learn how to use God’s word as if it were an integrated into the day, the rest of our lives into our thinking patterns.
It b- in how we also choose to evaluate the world around us so that we’re just really adapt. We know. We know how to discern what is actually loving because we have a working, growing understanding of God’s word and our church exists, at least in part to help people have a better understanding of both the knowledge of God’s word and then how to apply it wisely into our lives.
And that’s a lot, a lot of what, you know, I I’m committed to doing for all of you. And that’s what, what I believe a portion of what our churches has meant to do, is to just strengthen and equip all of you to be able to grow in the Lord in such a way that you are really capable of using God’s word principally to discern what is actually loving and what is not.
What’s fascinating though, if I can push into this a little bit further, not only does the abounding life of love and Christ approve what is excellent, but we’re told it also acts with purity. Now, this is an important distinctive look at that verse 10 again, so that you may approve what is excellent. And there was be able to evaluate properly and be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
What’s fascinating, let’s just pause right here for a moment. I want you to, I want to connect here. You guys. I really do. Um, what’s fascinating. Is that the word we render pure and the older version called sincere actually means judged in the sunshine. That we’re pure means in its original language judged in the sunshine and the ID again, had to do with
something that would have been familiar to the people Paul was writing to his, it was like you would take a, a piece of merchandise that was being considered for purchase, you know, say it sat under a canopy and it was kind of in the shadows or you went into a dimly lit room. Maybe there was only a flickering oil lamp that was there.
So you could kind of see what you were wanting to buy, but you couldn’t really tell its true condition. And so what would happen. Often, and this is the connection to this idea of pure is you would take, take the, the object or the thing that you were purchasing and you would bring it out into the sunlight and you would hold it up.
You would hold it up and then you could discern the true condition. Do you see that? Do you see, you could, you could see if you were actually getting an honest version of what it appeared to be, and that is something that I think, well, I know. It’s what God wants all of us to do. He wants us to be an honest, authentic version of what we appear to be.
He wants us to grow in love a -bound in love so that we are capable of being that honest, authentic version that we, we can be judged in the sunshine so that we are sunshine people. We are relatively what we appear to be. I think the only way to know how to say it we’re, that we’re not hypocritical. We’re, we’re honest, we’re genuine.
Our faith is sincere. Our love is real. What we’re talking about then is, is something that we have to commit ourselves to. You know, Paul was saying that, and by the way, this is less about assessing other people. Maybe some of us are really good at that. I want to hold you up in the sunshine and make sure that you’re genuine.
Okay. That’s great. Let’s do that. Let’s test everything. I understand that we needed, we needed to periodically do that, but this is really more about looking at our own heart. It’s looking at our own heart and see, and asking the Lord, Lord, is there any faulty way in me? Is there any wicked way? Is there any attitude in me that you want corrected, adjusted to be brought more in alignment with your word so that I may be that sunshine man, that sunshine woman, the sunshine people you’ve called us to be.
And we’re also talking about how so not only is love, discerning and capable of judging. It has, you know, Christian Love has the ability and we’re talking about a -bounding here has the ability to discern things because it’s, it’s, it’s embedded in God’s word as a way of thinking about life and approaching life, but it’s also committed to being pure and living has as a person of, of qualities, sincerity that can bear up under scrutiny that other people, if they were to look at our lives
we’ll be able to see a mostly authentic version of someone who genuinely loves the Lord. And that connects to the last phrase there, which is that seeks to be blameless. And without offense that there’s a desire for an innocence about us. I wouldn’t call that a naivete, but I would say that maybe what, what we are is a people who are somewhat counter-cultural because
of what we are sometimes not participating in. And that’s one way that it shows up. And then also how, what we assume about people, uh, that, that we would prefer to assume the best if at all possible, but, but also to live in such a way that, and this and this also, I need to say this. It doesn’t mean that we’re perfect or faultless.
But it means that we are not and can never be at peace with wrong. That is within us or that the Lord shows us needs to be addressed or that, which is an unloving that we will be a people who confront our sins with the help of Jesus, our anger, we will, we will yield to him. We will, we will, we will surrender that.
And our bitterness, we will not allow. And un- forgiveness. We will, we will pay attention to, because we know that to be forgiven in the Lord means we too must forgive. And we’re going to challenge our hypocrisy or anything that could lead to it so that we’re neither Pharisaical, but neither are we setting the bar so low that we look no different from people who don’t follow Jesus.
He may also have to do with our lack of compassion and how God wants us to be more compassionate, more kind, or it might have to do with addressing our pride or our self-will. These are just a few of the things that I think God will, will remind us that when we’re sincere, we’re going to look at those things and not be okay with them.
We’re going to want to grow. We want to abound in his love, right? More and more, so to abound in Christ’s love means at least in part to confront these things. What I call the rebels within. That I think sometimes the evil one will inflame, but those rebels within that, that would hinder us. So as we are addressing them, we can live has sunshine people, the sunshine people, God has called us to be who are capable of being authentic and also having an effect on others and watch how the apostle though finishes.
Verse 10, and then I’ll read 11, which is what we’ll end with so that you may approve what is excellent. And so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and the praise of God, because there was a day coming when we will all be held up in the light, we will be accountable for how we have lived in love and what we have
done with Christ and how we have treated others. And the goodness of our life will be something that we will be able to offer the Lord. If we have sought to honor him with an intentional life of faith that is committed to spreading his life in love and goodness, but I know this that I know we should be secure.
If we’ve accepted Jesus we should be secure. Because we have been covered in his blood and righteousness. And I thank you even now. Jesus, that in the end, it’s all about you. It’s not it’s it’s about you. It’s not about me. I can ever be good enough for you can never qualify for your kingdom. Uh, you, you don’t need me.
He doesn’t need us, but he invites us into this joyful kingdom, the loving realm of God. Right? He does. And there is this really interesting facet here then. So in one sense, it doesn’t depend on us. Our destiny is dependent on him. Once we’ve accepted him into our life. It becomes an unshakable reality. At the same time
we’re also told by Jesus and it’s clear in the scriptures that we will give account for how we have lived and how we have loved if we have been a kind of person and man, or a woman who has really sought to honor the Lord with our days, we will hear at some point his words, well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy that I have prepared for you.
So in the one sense, it’s not about us, but in the other sense, it is. We get to choose how we’re going to honor him in my, my prayers that we might, I want to shine forth with radiance and love. I want to, I want all of us to be joyfully unashamed of Jesus and relentlessly optimistic to, and to use the words of the apostle to the glory and praise of God.
How’s that? Thank you, Lord. That’s what, that’s what I know his will is for us. This is our call. This is our invitation. This is our assignment in this season of our life. God has this for us. There is, there is a time for us to grow in a way for us to grow. And he’s also calling us to express his joy as a sunshine.
People filled always with hope because we live with the hope of Christ and that makes us something that I hope can help other people. I do. I pray for that for all that. As part of the reason why we exist as a church and speaking of that, and I’m going to come back around after our song. And I’ve got a final thought to share here, but I do want to remind all of us about our time of giving.
The is the time that I get to do this. Remember you can give online as many of you do or through the app like I do. And if you haven’t had a chance to download the Cornerstone app, uh, you know, go, please do that. Hmm. Enable the notifications that we can send you things and, and just let you be aware of what’s happening, send you things like the rise and shine and make it really easy for you to connect with us and us with you.
And, and of course, you’re welcome to send that in as well, but I just pray that the Lord, Lord’s light would shine through you and his son would just fill you, right. Emanate out of us. Yeah. So, uh, with that. Let’s share this song; it’s called shine a light.