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Sunday, Apr. 23                            

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but by love.”  This would not be a new thought for any of us, but how much do we practice it?  We all have a default button that directs us to love those that love us and hate—or at least shun—those that don’t love us.  This is a universal trait, observable in all cultures on personal levels, racial levels and national levels.  And the Christian community is not exempt.  This negative and counter productive trait does not automatically change when we are “born again.”  Our sin nature is “alive and well” during our sojourn on earth.  Knowing that we need to change will not produce change.  There has to be an “over ride” button, a divine stimulus to allow us to replace hatred with love.  The indwelling Holy Spirit is that “over ride” button.  He gives us the power to reject sin and to respond in love, but it’s not automatic.  As Paul explains it in Rom. 8, we can choose to walk in the Spirit or to walk in the flesh.  When we choose to walk in the Spirit, the world takes notice.  The world took notice following the birth of the Church.  Thousands of new believers forged a loving fellowship that could not be ignored.  Many sold their property, sharing their wealth with others.  Something special was happening.  They were not normal by the world’s standards.  No one had witnessed a societal change like this.  The Jews had no such reputation.  The Sanhedrin took notice.  And it wasn’t long before the entire Roman Empire took notice.  Alas, things have changed.  It didn’t take long for the Church to go back to that default button.  When Jesus evaluated the Ephesian church in Rev. 2-3, he had some good things to say about it, but he also said (Rev. 2:4)—“You have lost your first love.”  How would Jesus evaluate our churches today?  Do you know any church that is known for its love?  Some are known for their  gifted speakers, for correct doctrine, for extensive programs, or for their support of missions.  Those things are not bad, but they are not what the early church was noted for—love.  What can we do about this?  Maybe we should start with ourselves.  When people think of me, do they think of love?  If not, I should be concerned.  Jesus told the Ephesian church to repent.  When that “lost” love returns, the world will take notice.

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