Who Am I? Part One

John 3: 16 – 18

Do you ever suffer from an identity crisis?  How would you respond if someone asked you who you are? Other than your name what would you say?

College students might say “I am a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.” Or perhaps, “I am a Bulldog,” or “Yellow Jacket,” or “I’m Big Orange,” or “an Owl.”

Perhaps professionals would answer, “I am a computer analyst,” or “I am a business executive,” or “I’m a secretary.”

It may be you would answer with pride, “I am an American”.

John, an apostle of Jesus, identified himself as “one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13: 23). Hopefully you can say the same. Jesus is heaven’s proof that you are somebody special.

What a beautiful way to think of yourself.  Who are you? I am a person Jesus loves. That should give you a sense of self-worth, dignity, and pride. That makes you somebody — somebody special.

We live in a day when love is so rare. In interpersonal relationships lust has been exchanged for true love. In the parent-child relationship brutality is often expressed instead of love.

This was dramatically indicated in a recent TV documentary in which a 13 year old street-child was asked what kind of a house he would like. He described a mansion. He was then asked what kind of parents he would like in that house. He said he would want parents with adhesive tape over their mouths so they couldn’t yell at him and their hands handcuffed behind their backs so they couldn’t hit him.”

A lovely teenage street-girl who had run away from home was asked what the youths on the street were looking for answered, somebody to love them.

Aren’t we all? Well here is good news. Jesus loves you.

If you are suffering any kind of identity crisis or are questioning if you are loved, listen very carefully to what I am about to say. You can say, “My body may be broken, my health gone, my frame misshapen, my position in life insignificant, my education limited, my financial resources little, BUT I am an awesome spirit being.”

You may have the good fortune of saying “I am wealthy, healthy, energetic, successful, attractive, and popular, BUT the thing of real importance is I am an awesome spirit being.”

Elevate your concept of who you are. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, no longer think of yourself as simply a human being. You are an awesome spirit being.”

You have been born again. Born of the Spirit.

You as a Christian have every right to say: “I am an awesome spirit being.” Say it to yourself now. You are because Jesus loves you.

Living and Loving on the Right Side of the Cross – Part Four

Matthew 22: 36 – 40

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

Compliance with this command keeps hope alive. 

When you think about the force behind the command you have reason for hope. It motivates you to venture in His name. His vacillating disciples became venturous after the resurrection. It set them free to love.

We are reluctant to love for fear of injury. If you dare to love in Jesus’ name you make yourself vulnerable to being hurt. Believe me I know. However, if you don’t love you make yourself sick.

When compelled by Jesus’ great love you venture. I saw a T-shirt with this inscription: “You will never reach second base with one foot on first.”

A classic example of a loving response to hate and brute force is seen in Coventry, England. On the night of November 14, 1940, nearly 500 German bombers attacked the English city of Coventry. Over 600 tons of explosives and thousands of incendiary bombs were dropped.

700,000 homes were destroyed and 400 people killed.

Amid the rubble stood the remains of the formerly beloved beautiful 14th Century Coventry Cathedral.

Having stood in those ruins let me tell you what you would see if you were to visit there. In love, the people of the city have now built a beautiful modern cathedral beside the ruins of the old one. The old walls of the ancient gothic cathedral that still stand are architecturally connected to the new modern structure. There is a large charred wooden cross that stands on the soot blackened stone where the altar once was located. The cross is made of charred beams of the old cathedral. On a table is another smaller cross. It was formed by two twisted spikes used by medieval craftsmen to construct the roof. The spikes had fallen forming a cross.

Since that night an inscription has been carved in the wall reading: “Father, forgive…”

That is what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

The new cathedral at Coventry has much art. None is more striking than the larger than life sculpture just outside the main entrance. It depicts Michael the archangel, spear in hand, poised triumphantly over a prostrated, manacled dragon. It depicts the ultimate victory of Jesus over evil.

He, the triumphant, resurrected Jesus, the one who commanded us to love is the one who gives us the victory in love.

Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th Century preacher, asked a question and answered it himself. His question: “Why should we love God?”

His answer: “Because He is God.” Love Him by obeying Him and love others in His name.

Living and Loving on the Right Side of the Cross – Part Three

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22 – 40).

Jesus  intended us to operate under the control of our personal will in seeking to love others. It is suitable only when operating in the “Thy will be done” zone.

It is hard to love and rejoice in the Lord when suffering from a case of remoteness.

        The Lord God once said of Israel:

                “Their heart is far from Me.”

The words don’t relate to physical distance, but to likeness. It is not physical distance, but dissimilarities that cause a sense of remoteness.

Two creatures may be so close together they touch, yet they may be so unalike they are far apart. For example, you and a wild African lion from the Serengeti Plains may be so close you touch, but in your natures you are far apart and that makes you want to get physically further apart.

For this moral unlikeness the Bible uses the word “alienation.” Look in your inner life for evidence of dissimilarities between you and the Lord. Check for:

Three facets of our nature are to be involved in loving the Lord.

“Kardia” is the word used. It is a reference to our entire inner nature. It is a term for our personality. Whole-hearted love is the meaning. It is a reference to being enthusiastic about our love for the Lord.

The measure of loving the Lord is to love Him without measure.

“Psyche” is the word for soul. It is a reference to the seat of our will. It means to willfully determine to love the Lord.

“Dianoia” is the word for mind. It relates to our intellect. Love for the Lord is to be knowledgeable. That is what made the difference in the lives of the disciples. After the resurrection they were clued in as to who Jesus was and what His role was.

Albert Sweitzer was asked, “What is wrong with man today?” He replied, “He simply does not think.” Think about it!

Candidly, through the years I have encountered some people I wanted to pray for with a baseball bat. I would like to say I have always been successful in complying with the command to love them, but there have been some times I have struck out. Those occasions have caused me to suffer deferred regret and resolution to knock it out of the park next time.

Living and Loving on the Right Side of the Cross – Part Two

Matthew 22: 36 – 40

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord wholeheartedly. It is also perhaps the hardest commandment.

The Greek word used by Jesus that is translated love was “agapao”. It is self-less love, the kind God the Father has for us.

It is not simply an immediate feeling or natural impulse. That is why the disciples were clueless before the cross. They were trying to work up a warm fuzzy feeling toward some very hard and harsh people. In the energy of the flesh there are some people that simply aren’t loveable.

However, the love Jesus commands and on this side of the cross enables us to love isn’t a natural impulse, it requires the will to obey Him.

When the pressure was on those disciples who heard Jesus teach this command, men who had known the text from infancy, they did such things as draw swords and cut off ears. It wasn’t an ear Peter intended to sever in the garden when the Roman soldiers came with Judas for Jesus, it was a head.

My humorous imagination can just hear Jesus say, “Peter, put up that sword. I am supposed to die on a cross. If you keep that up you will get us all killed right here in this garden.”

Now after the resurrection Peter and the others got the clue. After the influence of the resurrection Peter clued into what Jesus meant by loving, he went forth with such love for Jesus as to die on a cross for Jesus’ cause, all the while loving those who killed him as his Master had.

Peter later wrote revealing the change in his life.

“…love one another fervently with a pure heart” (I Peter 1:22).

“…having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…” (I Peter 3: 8).

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins”  (I Peter 4:8).

That doesn’t sound like a man who at the trial of Jesus swore, cursed, and declared he never knew Jesus? That Peter was the Simon before the cross, he didn’t have a clue. This is the Peter after the resurrection.

People hadn’t suddenly changed and become lovable, but Peter had changed and become loving.

        Agape love is a conscious and deliberate act of the will.

                It means to seek God for His own sake,

                        to have pleasure in Him, and

                                to strive impulsively after Him.       

Does it ever seem to you that you just can’t work up an emotional thrill over loving your brothers and sisters? The occasional absence of this emotion causes some to conclude they aren’t Christians. It helps to find your way out of this dark shadow into the cheerful sunlight when you realize there are two kinds of love.

One is “feeling” and the other “will.”

God never intended you to be a plaything of your emotions. We all struggle with our emotions. Living in the “Thy will be done” zone is the only possible way to love. Now go out today (and every day) and find somebody to love.

Living and Loving on the Right Side of the Cross – Part One

Matthew 22: 36 – 40

A group of religious critics asked Jesus a question intended to impel Him on the horns of a dilemma. You know, you have been asked those questions by people not really wanting an answer.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”


They had 631 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative.

Schools of thought developed around most of the major ones and groups advocating their favorite as the greatest. It appeared that if Christ said of any one of the laws it was the greatest advocates of all others would turn on Him saying He was wrong. It was a question not intended to get an answer but to cause confusion.

Jesus reached back into the Scripture and quoted: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”. (Deuteronomy 6:5). That doesn’t leave out anything. There is no reserve in the love to be given the Lord.

Jesus knew this commandment was worthy to – – –



All who heard Him identify what He declared to be the most important commandment were very familiar with it. It is a part of the Jewish creed known as the “Shema.” The word Shema means “to hear.” It was the first Old Testament Scripture to be learned by a child.

On the other side of the resurrection His followers had an understanding of what it meant to love like that. We are now on the other side of the cross.

They had been part of the body of betrayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. They had seen Him brutalized and not defend Himself. They heard Him pray on the cross: “Father forgive them….”

Now, they who were clueless until the resurrection were to let it have the same impact on them.

We, like them, in light of the resurrection should love the Lord our God with all of our personal resources.

An electrician was called upon to make minor repairs in wiring that required him to go into the church attic over the pulpit. His wife accompanied him and decided to sit in the auditorium and wait for him. A group of visitors quietly entered the place of worship and seeing the lady sitting alone assumed she was having a time of private worship.

Her husband had been unduly long in the attic. The silent visitors were shocked when she turned her eyes heavenward and called out, “Sam, are you up there?” After a moment’s pause she continued, “Did you make it alright?”

After the resurrection the disciples knew Jesus was “Up there”. He had “made it alright.” As a result things are not all right down here, but we are alright living on this side of the cross. Look up and live and love.