Let Brotherly Love Continue
LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE
Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd
Cortland Church of Christ / June 05, 2016
At last Sunday’s church picnic (the Sunday before Memorial Day), we paused briefly after our meal and before the fun & games, to sing a song of thanksgiving and to offer a prayer of thanksgiving in remembrance of those who have fallen.
Our focus was twofold: First to give thanks for those who have given their lives in military service to our country.
And secondly, to reflect on fellow Christians, comrades in the faith, who have passed on.
Last Wednesday, I took time to go back and re-read our church FamilyMatters over the last ten years (2006-2016).
I didn’t actually READ them, I scanned them for information about ones who have passed away.
It required flipping through 520 pages of newsletters and I apologize if I have overlooked anyone (please tell me).
You can see a list of some of the names of loved ones who have passed on my brief essay in today’s FamilyMatters.
After a while, I got blurred-eyed and an arm cramp from the repetitive motion of flipping pages.
I wanted to do all 20 years (since our start in 1996) but I got weary. I’ll plan to complete the review at a future date.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes we take little things for granted?
I think of this every time we have a picnic or a covered-dish luncheon.
These are important gatherings, not so much because of the instruction or worship that takes place.
They are important venues for FELLOWSHIP.
They provide a setting that allows us to get to know one another better.
Perhaps because of time limitations, our Sunday assemblies do not always allow us time for in-depth visiting.
If you notice in the gospels, Jesus often spent time eating with others.
We all know that He was a busy man, with much to do, but He always appears eager to break bread with others.
My intention here is not to chastise anyone for missing a picnic or luncheon.
(We don’t always know what another’s week has been like and we must not judge others who aren’t present).
Rather, my goal is to simply re-affirm that if you miss out on these events, you are truly missing a lot.
I have often said that our summer picnics are gatherings where wonderful memories are made.
Our kids will surely look back on these with great fondness.
But our picnics are not “just for the kids”.
I was the “cook” at last Sunday’s picnic. Well - - my job was to flip dogs and burgers.
It’s not a hard job but it comes with lots of smoke and heat.
I have a renewed appreciation for my brother-in-law, Mark, who has served as our cook for several years now.
Ray Villers graciously relieved me so that I could eat.
When he approached me to offer, Ray looked out over the crowd and pointed and asked me, “who is that man?”
I apologize for not calling Tom Kennedy over and introducing the two of them.
While cooking you are able to look out over the crowd and see people sitting together … visiting and talking …
laughing … getting to know one another better … enjoying the fellowship. It is really a simple thing of beauty.
It’s the kind of thing that nurtures our life in the body of Christ.
Perhaps the high point of the evening for me came at the end (not because everyone was about to leave / J ).
Audriana Green starting crying really hard. Earlier she had hit herself with a croquet mallet.
But this time she was crying because she didn’t want to leave!!
THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. From the mouth of babes we learn the beauty of simple fellowship.
Our English word, “fellowship” is defined as follows.
(1) The condition of being joined together and sharing similar interests or experiences.
(2) The companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms.
(3) A union of friends or equals sharing similar interests … fraternity … brotherhood … friendship … comradeship.
The English origin of the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon, FEE-Lowship.
“Fee” was the word for “cow” which was a centerpiece of one’s wealth in days gone by.
Neighbors put their cows together, breaking down the fence between them to show
trust in each other, creating “fee-lowship” through their joint cow-account.
The Greek word for fellowship is “koinonia”, which means “common”.
The noun form of this word means partnership. It was a word that described typical unions - -
James & John and Peter & Andrew had koinonia - - they were partners in fishing (Lk.5:10 and Jn.1:40).
But in Scripture this word takes on a much deeper and richer meaning than just that of being a partner in a business.
Paul thanked the Philippians for their “partnership in the gospel” (they had assisted him financially / Philp.1:5).
Gal.2:9 tells how James and Peter and John gave Paul and Barnabas “the right hand of fellowship”.
They had a common goal in the spreading of the gospel of Christ to both Jews and Gentiles.
Acts 21:1-6 speaks of this special relationship between disciples of Christ.
Note vs.4, after looking up the disciples
Perhaps no passage describes the depth of meaning inherent in the word fellowship better than Acts 2:44f.
And all those who had believed were TOGETHER, and HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON;
And they began selling their property and possessions, and were SHARING them with all, as anyone might have need.
And day by day continuing WITH ONE MIND in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,
They were TAKING THEIR MEALS TOGETHER WITH GLADNESS AND SINCERITY OF HEART, praising God,
and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Think again with me about the song that we just sang a few minutes ago (Song #709 / How Sweet, How Heavenly).
In one another’s peace delight … each can feel his brother’s sigh and with him bear a part …
When sorrow flows from eye to eye and joy from heart to heart …
Free from envy, scorn and pride … each can his brother’s failing hide.
Love in one delightful stream … union sweet and dear esteem … the golden chain that binds.
Vic Rossi, who is very much Italian, often uses the word, GOOMBAH.
Originally goombah referred to a godfather or godson.
Over the years it came to speak of a dear friend, brother or comrade.
There remains some locales where this word refers to an accomplice, cohort, a fellow criminal, a partner in crime.
Whatever we can do to enhance our fellowship is a GOOD THING - - well, except for being partners in crime.
This has been one of the great benefits of our summer youth retreat.
Throughout the last forty years, our camp experience has worked wonders at binding us together.
You can’t take part in the week of camp without growing to have a deeper sense of fellowship.
Listen again to Paul’s words in Rom.12:9-13 - -
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
BE DEVOTED TO ONE ANOTHER IN BROTHERLY LOVE; give preference to one another in honor;
Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation,
devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
In Hebrews 13:1, Paul (it sounds like Paul, doesn’t it?) writes, Let LOVE OF THE BRETHREN continue.
The New Century Version renders this verse: Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters
This is what we might call our badge of discipleship.
Hear the words of Jesus from Jn.13:34-35 - -
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
The apostle John must have surely been reflecting on these words of Jesus when he wrote in 1Jn.3:14 & 16- -
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because WE LOVE THE BRETHREN …
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
This is the qualitative nature of this “new” commandment that Jesus gave.
It wasn’t new in the sense that it wasn’t encouraged and commanded in the Old Testament.
Lev.19:18 teaches quite plainly, you shall love you neighbor as yourself
Furthermore, Lev.19:34 teaches that we are to love strangers in the same way (as we love ourselves).
That which makes this commandment spoken by Jesus NEW, is the depth of the love.
We are to love one another AS CHRIST HAS LOVED US (Jn.13:34).
We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters(1Jn.13:16).
One final text and then a few comments and we will close in prayer.
Heb.10:24-25 states - -
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our assembling together,
as if the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
This text is not just speaking of Christians encouraging each other by our Sunday assemblies.
We do that with our presence, our singing, our prayers, our communing together in the Lord’s supper, our weekly offerings, and our searching the Scriptures together in study and by means of hearing and heeding words of exhortation.
The first-century was an especially challenging time for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
They were immersed in difficulties of all kinds - - trials & tribulations and even severe persecutions.
Paul reminds them with these words that God was at work bringing together Jews & Gentiles into ONE BODY.
God was at work in the heavenly realm “assembling” them together as Jews & Gentiles in the One Body Of Christ.
In Eph.3:1-6 and elsewhere, Paul speaks of this “assembling together” as THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST.
In Jn.10:16, Jesus spoke to His Jewish disciples about the coming in of the Gentiles - -
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also,
And they shall hear My voice; and THEY SHALL BECOME ONE FLOCK WITH ONE SHEPHERD.
There are so many ways that we can stir-up one another to love and good deeds.
Betty Pascute called me often during my recent week-long bout with the flu.
Shan Wood thanked Jeannie for “the counseling” she offered at the picnic.
Sometimes the little things we do are really BIG things.
If we all have to look for some BIG thing we can do to encourage one another, we will likely be overwhelmed.
But all of us can look for a host of LITTLE ways to show our love to our brothers and sisters.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come before You today keenly aware of the importance of brotherly love within the Body of Christ.
May we hear Your word today, and may exercise ourselves in doing the little things that will help us to be strong.
Help us to keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. And may our love for You and one another, cause others to see clearly that Jesus is indeed in our midst. Thank You for this fellowship we have in Christ, through Whom we pray.