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Right after the core team of our church left everything and moved to Knoxville to start Ignition Church, we gathered for several months to talk about what kind of church we were starting. One of the strategic decisions we made was in regards to outreach – ministry to areas of physical need in Knoxville.
An apple tree produces apples. That’s what it does and that’s what makes it an apple tree. It doesn’t have to practice and work hard to make apples – it just happens. Apples are simply what it produces because of what it is. It does what it does because of what it is.
The life of a Holy Spirit-filled follower of Jesus produces fruit. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5 that the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of a born again believer is love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control. Like apple trees produce apples, disciples produce this spiritual fruit.
Fruit is made for multiplication.
Like an apple contains seeds for producing apple trees, fruit from the life of a disciple is for the purpose of producing more disciples. In other words, we don’t bear fruit so that we are better people, or more pleasant to be around, or so that other Christians can admire and envy all of our pretty fruit. We bear fruit so that people far from God will be drawn to us and ultimately drawn to Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit produces love in us. Not just so we can be better friends or spouses, but so we are enabled to love the unloveable as we have been loved by God – so they may experience His love for them.
- The Holy Spirit produces patience in us. Not just so we can sit in traffic without complaining, but so we are able to stick with those that are hurting when others have given up on them – so they can know God never gives up on them.
- The Holy Spirit produces peace in us. Not just so we can speak and act with zen-like piety, but so that we can step into someone else’s messy life and bring the calming presence of God’s love and kindness to their situation.
- The Holy Spirit produces self control in us. Not just so we can be less sinful, but so that we can express our freedom in Christ and freely invite those living in bondage to experience it.
- The Holy Spirit produces joy in us. Not just so we can be happier, but so that no matter what is happening around us, our deep-seated contentment in Christ enables us to stay engaged with His mission.
When you learn to be who you are in Christ, fruit happens and disciples are made – the only qualification for making disciples is being a disciple.
Ultimately, Love Shares is much less about what we do, and far more about who we are. When you know who you are, you’ll do what you’re created to do.
Huey Lewis, a great prophet of 80’s pop music, once wisely said: “The power of love is a curious thing.”
He’s right. Love will inspire you to do some risky things. It will cause you to lose yourself for the sake of another.
Sometimes, love looks like simply listening as someone shares their heart or their hurt. Other times, love looks like speaking up and standing between a person and a destructive habit. Love will always create a distinctive response in the recipient – but sometimes that response is rejection.
Many times we settle for making someone feel loved rather than actually choosing to love them.
Love is not always doing what feels good. It is not always easy, nor does it always come naturally. In fact, love is often best proved in the fires of hard moments and hard conversations.
Here are some questions I asked to test our willingness to love in a recent sermon based on the parable of the Good Samaritan:
- Are you willing to risk being rejected by others for the sake of Jesus?
- Are you willing to risk a relationship for the sake of sharing what God is doing in your life?
- Are you willing to risk sounding “uncool” by actually talking about heart, rather than always sticking to the surface?
- Are you willing to associate with those that live an openly sinful lifestyle?
- Are you willing to have a hard conversation with a Christian who may be stuck in their sin?
- Are you willing to pursue someone that you know will likely reject/hurt you? Will you persist in your pursuit if they do?
- Are you willing to pursue someone whose lifestyle is opposite of yours?
- Are you willing to be inconvenienced for someone? Even for someone who you don’t really know? Even if there is no reward?
Truth be told, this level of love as described in the passage is impossible for us in our own strength. Ultimately this passage is describing Jesus’ love for us. He is the Good Samaritan and we are the injured traveler.
But the beautiful thing about the Gospel is that once we have received Jesus’ love and grace in our broken state, He will begin to love others through us – if we are open to it.
You can listen to the sermon here: What Love Really Is
It is impossible to sum up all God did last week during Love Week.
Our outreach partners were served. People shunned by society were loved. Large and much-needed projects were completed. Hearts were transformed through serving, praying, and giving. And lives were saved as the Gospel was displayed.
Goals: 250 hours served, $3,500 given
Totals: 460 hours served, over $6,000 given
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21
Thank you, Ignition.
Thank you for your service. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for letting Jesus love through you. Our city is being changed. Our Savior’s glory is rising. Hell is trembling. In our love, we are unstoppable. Let the revolution begin.
We would love to hear your stories from Love Week. Whether it’s something God showed you, something God spoke to you, or a conversation you had with someone while serving – share it here. And for even more fun, check the highlights on Twitter here.