Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Challenge to Love

Dannah Gresh: Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love. Pastor Chris Brooks says that can be difficult.

Chris Brooks: This, my friends, is the challenge of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This is the dangerous proposition of the gospel. This is the call of Christianity, that we are not a self-centered people who love like those who don’t have a Savior.

No. Our Savior went to the cross. While we were yet sinners, He loved us. And He calls us to love our enemies.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Thursday, April 29, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It seems like there’s one thing everybody likes to talk about, write about, and, yes, sing about . . . and that’s love.

From inspired ancient Hebrew poetry, one of my favorite Old Testament passages:

Woman: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!For your love is better than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

Man: “Behold, you are beautiful, my love;behold, you are beautiful;your eyes are doves” (Song of Solomon 1:15).

To an English playwright’s words, written in the seventeenth century: “Drink to me only with thine eyes . . .”

Nancy: Love has been the subject of countless songs.

Dannah: It sure has! In fact, Nat King Cole spelled it out in 1965.

Song: “Love was made for me and you.”

Dannah: And this group, they stated it pretty plainly:

Song: “And oooo, I love you . . .”

Dannah: And who can forget this one by the Beatles. It served as a sort of theme song for the Hippie movement.

Song: “All you need is love . . . all you need is love . . .”

Nancy: And, Dannah, Christian music is no exception. Many of us grew up singing this one, based on Jesus’ words in John chapter 13.

Song: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” 

Dannah: Well, we all agree: We need more love and less hate. But here’s the problem: What is love? And how can we do more of this thing that everybody wants?

Nancy: Well, thankfully, we don’t have to turn to pop music or love songs or Hollywood or social media to tell us what love is and how to love. God’s Word has a lot to say about love. And our guest today will talk about exactly that.

Chris Brooks is the senior pastor of Woodside Bible Church in the Detroit area. You may recognize him as the host of the live call-in program, Equipped with Chris Brooks, heard at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, noon Central, on Moody stations, as well as many other stations around the country.

On a personal note, Chris has been a great encouragement to Robert and me and a friend of Revive Our Hearts. He’s going to be one of our speakers at the Revive ’21 conference in October—more about that in a few minutes.

Dannah: But, right now, if you have a Bible, why not turn to 1 Peter chapter 1, and follow along. Chris Brooks first sets the stage for us and then reminds us love is a verb. Let’s listen to part one. Here’s Pastor Chris Brooks.

Pastor Chris: Well, today I’m really excited to be able to go back into the Word of God with you. We’ve been journeying through the book of 1 Peter. It’s a letter that Peter wrote to what he described in verse number 1 of 1 Peter chapter 1 as, “the elect exiles.” This was his audience—those who were scattered abroad.

Now, you can only imagine what challenges they faced as being a displaced and scattered people. Think about what it must be to kind of be homeless in many ways, not having a land that you would call home, being scattered abroad, the sense of being placeless, voiceless, and maybe even powerless, being marginalized, mistreated, abused.

This is what the people of God, those “elect exiles,” those Jews who were first to believe in Jesus were experiencing. They were being taken advantage of. They were being mistreated. They were being persecuted, no doubt.

And you would expect the tone of the letter to be different. In many ways, 1 Peter comes to us with a surprise. It’s a surprising tone. It’s a surprising message. Instead of being a message or a letter of lament, it is the exact opposite. It is a message of hope. Andhow in the world do you and I find hope in the face of a fallen world?

Every text tries to answer a particular question. Every letter of Scripture, every verse of Scripture is trying to answer a particular question. As a matter of fact, one of the keys to rightly interpreting the Word of God is to ask: What question is this particular text trying to answer?

The question that this text is trying to answer that we’ve been studying through is: Where do you put your hope? Where can you put your hope where you won’t be disappointed?

We’re in a season where we have been broadsided by the unexpected, the uninvited, the unwanted. People are desperately searching for hope. We’re wired that way. There’s options—there’s always—in the marketplace of ideas, options, where you can put your hope. Not all of them are good options.

Some of us have put our hope in the economy. That option is a roller coaster ride, my friends. You’ll get a sick stomach, I promise you, if you pay too close of attention.

Some of us have put our hope in our kids and the choices that they’ll make. I tell you: It’s a bad option. Hopefully, they’ll make all the right choices. But the reality is that they are human just like you, and you’ll get an upset stomach trying to follow that train, too.

Some of us have tried to put our hope in elections and the outcome of our political hopeful aspirations. But the reality is, there’s uncertainty around that. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that we can’t put our hope in the uncertain.

So if you can’t put your hope in the economy, or the outcomes of elections, or you shouldn’t put your hope in your kids’ choices, then where do you put your hope so that you can have blessed assurance?

Well, I’m glad you asked the question. Look at 1 Peter with me again. I just want to recap what our brother Peter has written to us. In verse number 3 of chapter 1, he tells us that we have been “born again to a living hope.” What is that living hope? It’s an inheritance that he describes this way, as being “imperishable, unfading, undefiled, kept in heaven by the power of God.”

This hope is the hope of our salvation through Christ—His death, burial, and resurrection. And this is what he says in verse number 13, in light of Christ and all that He’s done for us and the promise of the salvation that is coming in Him. He says midway through verse number 13, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

My friends, Peter doesn’t mince words. He is saying there is only one place where you can place your hope, and it will not be disappointing. There is only one Person that you can put your trust in. You can wake up day after day, sunrise after sunset, and still know that you are safe and secure. There is only one place in all of creation and in all of the universe where we can place our hope and know that we will not be disappointed.

Hope has a name, and His name is Jesus. On that third day, even when it looked like hope was defeated, even when it looked like the cross had . . . How many thank God that on that third day, Hope walked out of the grave! (applause) Hope declared victory. Hope is risen. Hope has a pulse. Hope has a name. His name is Jesus.

So what Peter does is to say, “If you are looking for a hope that won’t disappoint, put your hope in Jesus.”

And what an appropriate message for our time, because we know that you will be tempted, as I am constantly being tempted to put our hope in the wrong places—hope in my own strength, hope in our own abilities, hope in our net worth and relationships.

All of these things have their place. I’m not saying they’re not important. What I’m saying is that they ultimately don’t have the power to keep your heart. The one place where you can rest assured, and you can know that you will be kept in perfect peace is by putting your hope and your trust in Jesus.

Now, when you put your hope in God, it changes the way you live and you love. And we’re going to examine that today, but Peter uses a number of metaphors to describe this hope.

One of the metaphors he uses is an inheritance, (we just read about that), that hope is our inheritance.

Another metaphor he uses is that of pure gold, that our hope in Jesus is greater than pure gold, refined in fire.

Another metaphor that he uses, (and we’re going to see it later on today in the text), is that it’s good news. Our hope in Jesus is good news that will not fade. It’s good news for every generation. How many can say “Amen!” to that?

But today he’s going to use . . . I love the metaphor, and here’s how he describes hope. He says hope is like a good meal, like good food. Any foodies out there? Anybody love food? Have you ever had a meal that changed your life? Have you ever tasted some foods that you said, “My life will never be the same after this?” Some of you, that’s why you’re married today . . . because of that meal.

I remember visiting Hungary. We were at Budapest, Hungary, my wife and I. We were in this little town outside of Budapest called Eger, Hungary. We’re walking through Eger, Hungary. Eger is this old, Eastern European town. The skyline is marred by these ancient churches—beautiful for the eighth century and tenth century. And we’re walking on the skyline.

And then there was this little storefront restaurant—I don’t even know the name. We stopped to eat. It was recommended by the lady at the hotel after I tried to get a pizza and my wife said no. (laughter) And so here we are, sitting in this restaurant, and I asked the waitress, “What would you recommend?”

She said, “The goulash.”

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had authentic Hungarian goulash. Well, let me just tell you, friends: It will change your life! If you’ve never been on drugs, don’t eat it, because it will become your new addiction. 

So I ate this food. I said, “Honey, our next vacation has to be here. We’re planning a whole vacation around one meal that changed my life.”

I don’t know about you, but most of life is just eating to survive or to fuel your body. But there’s certain times when something breaks through that changes your life.

Well, this is what Peter wants us to know about the good news of Jesus. Most of the news you hear is mundane, everyday news. It kind of feels like recycled or warmed up oatmeal. It doesn’t really arouse or excite. But it’s not true concerning the good news of Jesus Christ. This is not the case.

Look at chapter 2. Look at verse number 3, the end of our passage that we’ll look at today. It says, “If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Have you, my friends, tasted that the Lord is good? Have you tasted the good news of the gospel? Have you tasted Jesus? Today we’re going to talk about what it means to taste the goodness of God.

Well, Peter expects that when we put our hope in God, it will change two things: The way we live and the way we love.

Let’s talk about the way we live.

In verse number 15, he tells us that we should be holy if our hope is in the right place. In other words, there’s a barometer.

One of the ways that you know you’ve put your hope in the right place is when you want to reflect the character of God. “Be holy, for I am holy.”

In verse 17, he tells us another way. He says of our conduct. “We should conduct ourselves in fear.” What type of fear? Fear of the Lord. This fear that we will waste such a great salvation.

I don’t want to waste the grace of God. I don’t want to live in this world in a casual or careless way. I want to live in an awe and a reverence of God that causes me to want to honor Him in everything. How many desire that as well, desire to honor God in everything? That’s one of the ways you know you’ve put your hope in the right place, if you’ve put your hope fully in Jesus.

Peter doesn’t want us to be fooled. He doesn’t want us to be deceived by the world or even self-deceived, thinking that we’ve put our hope in God when we really haven’t. How do you know you’ve placed your hope in God? You’ll desire to be holy. You’ll conduct yourself in fear.

But then, thirdly, he gets to this point: Verse 22, let’s read verses 22–25 together. Now here, his message is clear: You’ll love one another.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for all flesh is like grassand all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.

Do you feel where Peter’s confidence is at? You see where his confidence is at. He says, “Everything around us is going to fade. Everything around us is going to die. But the Word of the Lord remains forever.”

Well, let’s go back to verse 22. “Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth.” Here Peter is saying, “Because you’ve put your trust in Him, and you’ve diligently surrendered your heart to the truth of Scripture, you’ve purified your soul. And what is produced in you when your hope really is in Jesus, is this love, this brotherly love, this phileo, this brotherly love. It’s love that is not casual. It is love that is not shallow. But it is love for one another that is earnest from a pure heart.”

Now this commandment that he’s giving us, this imperative that he’s given us—to love differently than the world loves. Or maybe to put it a different way: Love differently than you did before you knew Jesus. The quality, the substance, the commitment, and the sacrifice of our love should be exponentially different now that we have put our trust and our faith in Him.

Now, just let me tell you that this really is the first time in Peter’s letters so far where he’s dealing with how we’re supposed to treat one another. Up until this point he’s been dealing with how we’re supposed to operate in the world.

Now, think about this for just a moment: How should we love those who are outside of the Church? How should we love those who have a different faith than us? How should we love those who have a different worldview than us? A different value system than us? A different political aspiration than us? How should we love them?

Well, I’ll tell you how we should love them. Keep your finger there and go to Luke’s gospel—Luke chapter 6. We’re just dealing with two verses—verses 32 and 35. The question on the table is: How should we love those outside of the household of faith? How should we treat and love those who have opposing worldviews than us, who seem to be our enemies?

Look at verse 32: “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”

Verse 35: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and evil.”

This, my friends, is the challenge of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This is the dangerous proposition of the gospel. This is the call of Christianity, that we are not a self-centered people who love like those who don’t have a Savior.

No. Our Savior went to the cross . . . while we were yet sinners. Don’t ever misunderstand the gospel. It was not just the Centurions or the Pharisees or Sadducees or Sanhedrin that hung Him to that cross. While we were yet enemies to the cross, He loved us. And He calls us to love our enemies.

Again, a reminder, an inconvenient truth, a reminder that none of us want to hear because what we really want to hear Jesus say is, “Conquer your enemy.” What we really want to hear Jesus say is, “Go ye therefore and defeat those who have a different worldview than you. Crush those who have different political aspirations than what you have.” That’s what we really want to hear. But that’s not the Savior we serve.

There’s this old saying that, “In the beginning God created man, and man has been returning the favor ever since.” We typically recreate God in our own image and likeness, but that’s not the call of the gospel.

The call of the gospel is to be conformed to His image and likeness. As we put our hope in Him, we should love like Him. Every time you go into the Word, there should be this stinging reminder that, “God, I am so far from this.”

I’m not preaching this to you because I have arrived. I’m preaching this to you because it is true. It is the Word of God.

Now, here’s the question on the table: If He would challenge us to love the world that way, what do you think our love for one another should look like? What do you think He’s driving home on how you and I are to love one another?

Let’s just leave this for just a moment and go back to 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 22. He says this, “Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”

Now, what do you think that must mean in light of how he’s telling us to love those who are opposed to us? How much more should we be willing to give of ourselves, commit ourselves, show grace to one another, patience with one another?

My fear for the Church in this hour is not that we’re going to lose people because of our moral standards. My fear for the Church in this hour is that we’re going to lose people because we’re unwilling to love one another the way Christ has called us.

Nancy: Wow! That’s a sober thought from pastor, author, and radio host, Chris Brooks.

It’s really true. In a world where we hear so much vitriol being spewed everywhere, even within the evangelical community, sad to say. We need to be characterized by how we love each other.

We wanted to introduce Chris Brooks to you today to allow you to get a feel for his heart. Chris will be one of our speakers in Indianapolis on October 8 and 9 for Revive ’21. This year’s theme is Grounded: Standing Firm in a Shaking World. Chris and our other speakers are going to help you know how to do just that.

Just a couple of weeks ago we opened registration for Revive ’21. I want to encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and get all the details. You can attend this year’s conference in-person or online, but you need to go ahead and sign up because space is limited.

And don’t forget our thank-you gift for your donation this month. It’s a set of twelve beautiful note cards, each one with an inspiration quote and a reminder that Heaven rules. You can see a picture of what I’m talking about or make a donation or sign up for Revive ’21 when you visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, tomorrow we’ll hear part two of Chris Brooks’ message, “Love Is a Verb.” I hope you’ll join us as once again we ask the Lord to revive our hearts.

Reminding you that the gospel changes both the way we live and the way we love. Revive OurHearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Chris Brooks is the Senior Pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Metro Detroit. https://woodsidebible.org/

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About the Speaker

Chris Brooks

Chris Brooks

Chris Brooks is the host of the national syndicated radio program, Equipped with Chris Brooks, which is heard on over 200 stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is …

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