For the Love of Christ Controls Us!

Sermon Notes (Sunday July 19th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

For the Love of Christ Controls Us!

Exodus 19:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:11-15

 

Everyone is controlled, driven, or compelled by something. Admitting this truth is an important act of self-awareness. There is something or someone that motivates us to do what we do and live how we live. For example, some are driven by money. Meaning, money drives how they spend their time and structure their lives. Others are driven by success. They are so motivated to be successful that they will sacrifice family, church, and anything else in order to achieve. There are lots of things around us that seek to control us. To name a few, worry, fear of failure, the longing to be accepted, the desire to be the best parent. So, my question to us this morning is, what is controlling you?

 

Our New Testament Scripture this morning help show us that there is a force so powerful that it can overcome all these other motivators. That force is the transforming love of Christ. Paul wants us to be convinced that the love that Christ has demonstrated for us—His sacrificial, unconditional, and life-altering love—has the power to capture our hearts so deeply that it can be the ultimate controller in our lives. It is when we find our identity and satisfaction in the love of Christ that we will be driven and controlled by that love. The love of Christ is so amazing and compelling. You see, the things that tempt to drive us (money, sex, power, etc.) are actually inferior motivators. They never satisfy. They leave us wanting more and yet end up leaving us empty.

 

That’s why the love of Christ must put to death our old self so that we might be raised to new life and experience new affections, new desires, and new priorities. The good news is that if you are a Christian, you have already death and resurrection. When Christ died, your old self died and since Christ was raised to new life, you have also been raised to new life. Now that you are living resurrected life, you have the ability to say with Paul, “The love of Christ controls us.”

 

When the love of Christ controls us, we will begin to focus more on gospel witness than comfortable living. You will prioritize love of neighbor over selfish living. When the love of Christ controls us as a corporate body, as a congregation, our community will see a group of people living so radically God-centered lives that it will become contagious. Can you truthfully say today, “The love of Christ controls me”? What does it mean to say, “The love of Christ controls us”? Please allow me to highlight a single thought this morning:

 

The Love of Christ is our Motivation to Live Sacrificially

“The love of Christ controls us,” says the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:14. The love of Christ had become Paul’s guiding and motivating principle; he had started to see everything in his life through it. What does it mean to be “controlled” by the love of Christ? Christ has captured the FIRST place in Paul’s heart. The more I read Paul, the more I realize how Paul never seemed to get over his salvation experience. The encounter with Jesus of Nazareth on the way to Damascus was a life-changing experience for Paul. He beautifully puts it in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

 

To bring it close to home, especially in the light of our “Stewardship Moment” this morning given by Elders Puff and Nowak, the love of Christ that controls us will be our motivation for giving. Let me be clear. We don’t give because God has needs. Our God multiplies loaves and fishes and pulls tax payment out of fish’s mouths. He never comes to us hat in hand saying, “Please, sir, can you spare some cash? Please, sir, just a little bit?” Friends, we don’t give because God has needs; we give because in giving we declare His value to us and our love for Him. Have you ever thought about it this way? What does our generosity say about the value of Jesus to us? Someone said, “If you want to know what you really love, follow the trail of your money.” What does your giving say about His value to you? To be controlled by the love of Christ means that Jesus has captured the first place in your heart.

 

Remember the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ

The grace of Jesus is a central theme in Paul’s writings. “Remember the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul would say… and then you will be that way. A measure of our sacrifice is Christ’s sacrifice for us. He died for us. Our response ought to be in some 
measure the same. Jesus did not tithe His blood… He gave it all! Therefore our response should be not just a portion of our lives, like 10%, 
but everything! The world, of course, says that kind of mentality is crazy and insane. Leverage what you have for someone else? Well, in fact, the context of this passage is Paul defending himself against the charge that he is crazy. Did you see 2 Corinthians 5:13? The Scripture says, “If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” When is the last time your generosity made someone question your sanity? C.S. Lewis once was asked: How do you know you’re giving enough? He answered: (1) It scares you and, (2) People question your sanity.

 

Friends, the sacrificial giver is less concerned about the 10% or 15% and is now asking questions about the 85% or 90%. Rev. Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, said he made enough money from Purpose Driven Life to buy a small island but he still wears a $14 watch and drives a 15-year old pickup truck. He and his wife increased their level of giving incrementally each year and are now giving away 90% of their income. This is called “reverse tithing”: where he gives away 90% and lives on 10! That’s a sacrificial giver. Has your giving become routine? Comfortable? A sacrificial giver makes changes to their lifestyle to direct more toward God’s kingdom. Or maybe there is some resource God has blessed you with (savings, stock, retirement, etc.) he’s calling you to put on the altar to Him? Where are you on this ladder? Where do you want to grow to? I am convinced that if Christ died for me, then those of us who live should no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us. Where do you need to grow in response to the generosity of Christ, in the investment of your life in His mission?

 

There is a great quote that has been attributed to the late fourth-century early firth-century theologian, Augustine of Hippo (354-430). It says, “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” If a person loves God and seeks Him, the things that please the person are the very things that please God.

 

“Christ’s love compels us, “ Paul says. It compels us when we fill our envelope with the church contributions. It compels us to remember each other in prayer. Christ’s love for us compels us in the way we now live. It compels us in the attitudes we have toward others, and our concerns for them. It compels us to take an active part in the work of the Lord’s kingdom. Christ’s love compels us to read our Bible and meditate in His Word. His love compels us to gather for worship and sing His praise; to gather for worship and listen to the good news of His saving gospel; to gather for worship and thereby encourage one another. May God’s love compel us and become the motivating force in all of our living. May God’s love motivate us to live sacrificially. May God’s love compel us to live generously. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!

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