When Christians are Great in the Eyes of God
If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice.
If it’s not worth saying twice, it’s not worth saying once.
So I’d like to go back to my time at Toledo, Ohio’s Grace Presbyterian Church over 30 years ago because, well, uh, it’s worth repeating.
The church was about 60% black and 40% white when I left.
It was 100% black when I was called to be its pastor.
During the interview/interrogation for becoming pastor, a nice middle-aged woman asked, “So Dr. Kopp, how will you feel about being the pastor of a black church?”
I replied, “God doesn’t like black churches…or white churches…or yellow, red, brown or any other color churches…Our God inspired Paul to write, “There is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free in Jesus. If you are one with Jesus, you are one with all of God’s children. If you ain’t, you ain’t!’…Our God inspired our nation’s Declaration of Independence to announce to a fallen world so it could get back up, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’…Just like all true believers, I am with Martin Luther King, Jr. in saying, ‘I have a dream – I have a passionate commitment – that all God’s children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’”
Essentially, I was saying people who love Jesus love like Jesus and Jesus cares about souls not skins.
We’ll go a little deeper on that a little later.
Of course, racists come in “red and yellow, black and white,…[and brown]…They are not precious in His sight. Jesus doesn’t like the racists of the world.”
So it wasn’t long after starting that I had some problems with black racists.
There was one woman who was especially nasty to me.
My first nine years on the corner of Lincoln and Main were awful.
Only after we…
Well, that’s not water under the bridge.
As Jose Saramago wrote, “They say time heals all wounds, but we never live long enough to test that theory.”
Praise God all relationships are reconciled in heaven by grace through faith in Jesus.
Heaven is something to look forward to before the end.
We overcame, survived and are moving into the future with our greatest ambition, highest goal and most fervent prayer to honor Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus by the book.
When I was called on Father’s Day and asked if I’d like to take a church in Florida, I said, “No, I’ve only been in Belvidere for 15 years and I’m only getting started. We’ve cleared out the tares, especially through this CCP COVID-19 thing, given the church back to Jesus and I believe God is sending reinforcements who don’t care about politics or denominations or secular correctness or anything else but Jesus. Just Jesus. Knowing Him and making Him known. Belvidere is my home and the greater Rockford area is my mission field. I have more zeal and energy for my call than ever before. So let me recommend…to you.”
Back to Toledo, I went to Judge Robert Penn, an elder in the church, and complained about a black woman hating me just because I’m white.
He said, “She’s just like some white people who hate black people just because they’re black. She’s ignorant!”
People who care more about skins than souls are ignorant.
Let us be clear about this with enthusiasm and without equivocation.
All lives matter to God.
Black lives, white lives, yellow lives, red lives, brown lives and any other color of lives that populate the planet.
All lives matter to God and all lives matter to people who love God; and anybody who doesn’t believe that is just ignorant.
Let’s say it twice, three times, four times or a billion times because it’s the best news for all times: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
If you don’t know that and aren’t making that known, you’re ignorant.
If you don’t know God cares about all souls with no respect for the skins, you’re ignorant.
For the trillionth time, here’s why: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Only the really thick-headed, dim-witted, dumb and damned because they’ve been too ignorant to be intimate with Jesus by the book don’t know that and make that known.
Only the ignorant haven’t figured out there will never be any peace until God is seated at the tables of school boards, church boards, city councils and legislative and executive and legal branches of government.
Only the ignorant don’t know no lives will matter until all lives go through Jesus to each other.
Only the ignorant don’t know there will never be reconciliation until we approach each other through Jesus.
Only the ignorant don’t know there will never be justice or peace until we see each other as Jesus sees everybody.
That’s why people who know Jesus make Him known.
We want people to be saved.
We want people to be saved so they go to heaven after the last breath and live in harmony with everybody else going to heaven by grace through faith in Jesus in the mean times.
That’s what we want because that’s what Jesus wants…and commands.
Christians are great in the eyes of God when we trust and obey Him.
A very big part of trusting and obeying God is making Him known as Lord and Savior because we know Him as Lord and Savior.
Let me put that another way.
If we know Jesus as Lord and Savior, we make Him known.
That’s when we’re great in the eyes of God.
That’s what His great commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) and great commission (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:4-8) are all about.
Knowing Jesus, we make Him known.
Again, if we know Jesus, we make Him known.
The great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment of all. You prove it by loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself to prove you love the Lord your God.”
Christians are totally in love with God – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, physically and materially. Everything we have is managed with Him in mind. We pray and try to love and honor God through all of our thoughts, creeds and deeds. We pray and try to love everyone around us with grace, mercy and forgiveness, seeking their best in all things no matter who, what, where, when or why without the need or expectation for response, regard or reward. We know the extent of our love for others measures the extent of our love for God. Partial is not total. Moderate is not total. Lukewarm is not total. Christians love God totally and totally love others as much as they love themselves to prove they love God. Totally!!!!!!!
The great commission: “Spread the Word! Be my witnesses in all of the world! Make disciples of all nations! Preach the Word, teach the Word and baptize people in the Word – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! You know Me! Now make Me known!”
Do you notice the connection between the great commandment and great commission?
If we love God, we love people.
That’s the great commandment.
If we know God, we make God known.
That’s the great commission.
If we are saved, we want people to be saved because God loves them, we love God and we love God by loving like God who wants everybody to be saved.
If we are saved by God, we are sent by God to save others because God wants them to be saved and we want to save them because we’re of the same mind.
Are you catching the drift?
Obviously, some don’t.
We know that because some pulpiteers and pewsitters are not making God known outside the doors of their religious clubs because they don’t know Him enough to make Him known because they would make Him known if they knew Him.
Or as an old missionary once told me, “You can’t give away what you ain’t got for yourself!”
Please don’t insult God’s intelligence (omniscience) by saying you know Him when you’re not making Him known.
Please don’t insult God’s intelligence (omniscience) by saying you love God when you’re not loving people enough to tell them how to be saved –experience existential relief in the assurance of eternal life in heaven – by grace through faith in Jesus.
Keeping the gospel to yourself isn’t love.
It’s something that isn’t good!
Let’s go deeper.
We’re great in the eyes of God when we keep the great commandment and great commission because they are inextricably woven together into the same fabric of faith.
You can’t love God and love people without sharing God’s love to prove you love God.
We are saved by God to be sent out by God to save the world because, remember, again, all lives matter to God.
Let’s go deeper.
God doesn’t want anybody to be left behind.
God doesn’t want anybody to go to hell.
God wants everybody to be saved and go to heaven.
So if we love God and love like God, we want everybody to be saved and go to heaven and we make that known by heralding Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Let’s go deeper.
People who know God make God known because they care about everybody’s marriages and health and jobs and all of their other existential needs but care most about what lasts forever.
Everything in life is temporary.
Eternity lasts, uh, forever.
Yes, we’re glad people come to church and we’re privileged to pass out food boxes and we’ve got great dinners and will resume them once the penal colony of Illinois is liberated and we’ve had programs that were really cool and we’d like to have more and we’ve got great…but the greatest of these is love – the love that goes beyond the temporary satisfactions to eternal salvation.
That’s why Peter said this to the man who asked him for some money: “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:1-10).
We don’t have enough food boxes to feed the world.
We don’t have enough gas cards or this cards or that cards or enough of anything to satisfy the existential needs of the world.
That’s all good stuff.
But it’s never enough and not nearly enough in the end.
None of it lasts.
But we have Jesus and He is forever!
All of that good-deed-doing-feeding-bellies existential stuff is good.
It expresses our love through care and compassion; and Jesus wants us to do that. Check out Matthew 25 if you need a refresher on our social responsibilities.
But it’s not the greatest expression of love.
The greatest love is to introduce people to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That’s the greatest because it/He lasts forever in heaven/paradise.
John 21:15-19 records an excruciatingly tough talk between Jesus and Peter that every Christian must consider to measure the authenticity of their faith.
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter answers, “You know I love You.”
“Then feed My sheep,” Jesus says.
A second time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter answers, “You know I love You.”
“Then shepherd My sheep,” Jesus says.
A third time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord, for crying out loud,” an exasperated Peter answers, “You know everything. You’re omniscient. You know I love You. C’mon, You know I’m all in with You.”
“Then feed My sheep,” Jesus says.
Essentially, Jesus is saying, “I won’t be convinced you love Me until you prove it by loving Me by loving like Me with everyone everywhere all of the time.”
Remember, Peter denied Jesus three times during His passion.
Jesus wants to make sure that Peter is with the program.
That’s why Jesus is repeating the question.
If it’s worth asking once, it’s worth asking twice just to make sure.
Jesus labors the point because Christians are great in the eyes of God only when they know God and make God known as God commands in Matthew 22 and commissions us as officers in His salvation army in Matthew 28 and Acts 1.
The great commandment to love God by loving like God with everything that we’ve got and the great commission to make God’s saving Lordship known as the greatest expression of love because heaven lasts forever is good news for a world trying to figure out which lives matter.
All of them.
You, me, them and all of the below by order of all of the above.
All lives matter to God and people who love God.
Now is a good time to read John 3:16-17.
That’s the reason for the great commandment and great commission.
God loves the world.
All lives matter to Him.
Blessings and Love!