Series – Reckless Love
Sermon – Expand the Circle
Scripture Readings: 1 John 3:11-18, Luke 5:27-32
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:14-18)
Monday September 16 — Luke 5:1-11
When we follow Jesus by reading and studying the Gospel accounts of his life and ministry, we discover the way that Jesus offered reckless love to the people he met. In Luke’s Gospel Simon Peter is the first disciple called by Jesus. In his call story, Peter makes a confession that every one of us could make: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful [wo]man!” (Luke 5:8). As we discover in the rest of the Gospel, Peter is far from perfect, just like us. How do you feel about Jesus calling a sinful human being to be his first disciple? Do you find yourself in that story?
• Prayer: Merciful God, like Simon Peter, I am a sinner who needs the fullness of your love and grace. Forgive me. Use me. Send me to continue your ministry in the world. Amen.
Tuesday September 17 — Luke 5:12-16
Jesus’ journey through the Gospels is filled with accounts like these. Jesus reaches out—both literally and figuratively—to people considered by the “good people” and religious authorities to be dangerous, unclean, and unworthy of his attention. Viewed objectively, Jesus acted recklessly when he touched the leper. What kind of actions might be considered reckless love in the world today? To whom might God be calling you to reach out with a tangible expression of love?
• Prayer: God of Love, thank you for the example of Jesus. Give me the courage I need to practice the same kind of reckless love that was the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry. Amen.
Wednesday September 18 — Luke 5:27-32
Chapter 5 of Luke’s Gospel is filled with examples of Jesus acting in ways that might be considered reckless: calling Simon Peter (a sinful man), touching a leper, sparring with the religious authorities, and eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners—like Levi. In Jesus’ time Levi and his associates would have been considered a different level of sinner than someone like Peter. If we are honest, many of us sympathize with the Pharisees and scribes and wonder why Jesus does the things he does. What do you really think about what Jesus is doing?
• Prayer: Eternal God, help me examine my life honestly today. Help me see where I am thinking and acting like Pharisees and scribes of old. Help me follow Jesus. Amen.
Thursday September 19 — Luke 6:12-16
There are a couple of interesting details in this brief account of Jesus naming the 12 apostles (out of the larger group of disciples). First, Jesus spent the night in prayer—preparing spiritually for this important decision. Second, based on what we know about the men he chose, this was not a homogenous group of like-minded believers. These men would have had very diverse opinions and beliefs about God and God’s Kingdom. Why do you think Jesus chose the people he chose? What does this passage teach us about God’s Kingdom and God’s Church?
• Prayer: God of Grace, forgive me for trying to place limits on your love and grace and the way you are at work in the world. Help me see people the way you see them. Amen.
Friday September 20 — Luke 7:1-10
The recklessness of Jesus’ love continues in Luke 7, where we discover that Jesus cured a centurion’s servant. The shocking (or reckless) aspect of this act of compassion may be lost to us if we do not remember that centurions were commanders in the Roman army—the military force that was occupying Israel—and would have been sworn enemies of people like “Simon, who was called the Zealot” (Luke 6:15). Who might you consider a “centurion” in the world today?
• Prayer: Life-giving God, too often I turn away from people in need because of who I think they are. Give me the courage I need to follow the example of Jesus. Amen.
Saturday September 21 — 1 John 3:11-18
More than 40 verses in the NRSV version of the New Testament contain some variation of this phrase: “love one another” (see 1 John 3:11). It is clear that this is the expected standard of behavior for Jesus’ followers. We should note that there is no requirement to “like one another,” just to “love one another” in “truth and action” (1 John 3:18). Jesus-like (reckless) love is sacrificial love that seeks the best for another human being. How have you followed the teaching of 1 John 3:11-18 this week? How have you loved in “truth and action”?
• Prayer: Loving God, let your love abide in me so deeply that I love others in truth and in action. Grant me the ability to love my brothers and sisters the way you love me. Amen.