Audio Sermon “God's Miniature”

Dec 18, 2016
“God's Miniature" No.18 by Rev. Toru Asai
1 John 3:16-20, John 15:9-17, etc.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:1-2)

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Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins (James 4:17).

When it comes to keeping the commandments, we Christians think that it only means to not do anything wrong: as long as we do not do those of "You shall not …," we are not sinning and we are okay. But according to the above scripture, as for "anyone … who knows the good he ought to do," if he "doesn't do it," he sins. In our minds, doing what is wrong is not the same as not doing what is right. Yet, the Bible says, they are the same. "The good he ought to do" is to love, and not to love is a sin. Not to love does not merely means to hate, but also to have passive attitudes about the command to love one another.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him (1 John 3:17)?

Note the clause, "but has no pity on him," which can be translated literally, "but shuts his compassion on him": he has compassion in his heart, but shuts it with his head so that he ends up not doing anything for the person in need. He does not hate, nor hurt anybody, so he thinks he is okay. But is he? At the gate of a certain rich man, there was a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and always longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table, but the rich man, seeing him everyday, did nothing for him. Both died. Lazarus was brought to Abraham's bosom, but the rich man went to hell. When Christ comes and sits on his throne in glory, he separates all the people as a shepherd separates his flock, and puts the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. And he will say to those on his left:

Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me (Mat 25:41-43).

When an expert in the law, who wanted to say he was righteous, asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" he answered by telling the parable of a good Samaritan. For this expert in the law thought in his mind that the "neighbor" meant only the Jews, not the Samaritans. On the deserted road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a priest saw a Jew half dead lying on the ground, but passed by on the other side. A Levite came, and did the same. Both, not wanting to be bothered by unnecessary work which would take extra time and efforts, shut their hearts of compassion, and did nothing. After all, nobody saw it. They knew the good they had to do, and that is why they "passed by on the other side," but did not do it. And a Samaritan came, "took pity on him," and did everything he could following the heart of compassion he had. Jesus asked the expert in the law, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" He replied, "The one who had mercy on him," which indicates that he too knew the good. Then, Jesus said:

Go and do likewise (Luke 10:37)

Note that he said, "Go and …" Love requires active actions. Did Christ go to Jerusalem and die passively? No, he laid down his life willingly and actively. Remember that as far as his own interests were concerned, he was without sin, and did not have to die, nor had any reason to suffer as he did. This is love.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:16).

And he said:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12).

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