In John’s Gospel we saw last week that Jesus was a safe person….

Someone whom people were drawn to
Someone whom people trusted
Someone who invited others into His life
Someone who listened and understood when others shared
Someone who accepted others regardless
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

We saw three main features of a “safe person” from this verse
1> He dwelt among us – connected with people, embraced, engaged
2> He was full of grace – treated people with dignity and respect regardless
3> He was established and rooted in God’s truth – speaking truth in love
We saw that this is what the Lord wants of us … that we become “safe people”
People who build safe relationships where spiritual conversations can be real and relevant
We established that a “safe person” in our life would, like Jesus:
1> Draw us closer to God
2> Draw us closer to others
3> Help us become the real person God created us to be
This would then fulfill The Greatest Commandment and The Great Commandment
Matthew 22:37-38 “‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.” (The Passion Translation)
But, let’s go to the foundation upon which this is all built – LOVE
The Christian faith is all about relationships
The Bible teaches us that God is love (1 John 4:8)
And, that He wanted to have a love relationship with His creation – the human race
Thus He created and related to Adam and Eve each and every day in the cool of the evening
But then, as we know, Adam and Eve sinned and broke that relationship
Sin separates (Isaiah 59:1-2)
So, even while we were separated from Him by our sin He still loved us and looked for a way to reestablish that relationship
Romans 5:8 “But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” (The Passion Translation)
God wanted to share Himself with others who would chose of their free will to love Him in return – relationship
When we experience our “conversion to Christ” He gives us the supernatural ability to have this relationship
Romans 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life”
John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that you may know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.”
So, the Christian faith is all about relationships…
Our relationship with God who is love
And we can love Him because He first loved us
1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us…”
Our relationship with each other as believers
1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…”
This is not an option – but a sign that you have truly been born again and come into a relationship with the Living God
1 John 4:20-21 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
The Passion Translation: “Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer. This makes him a phoney, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? For he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.”
This love is also our motivation to “go into all the world” and share the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 28:19-20)
“If you love Me you will obey Me” (John 14:15)
“And may the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other (believer to believer) and the everyone else (believer to non-believer)… (Philippians 1:9 Living Bible)
So, love is the basic ingredient of the Christian faith – the foundation of every thing else we believe
God is love (1 John 4:8)
God loved us so much He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16)
We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
He commands us to then love each other as believers (1 John 4:20)
And this love overflows to those who do not know Him (Philippians 1:9)
This love forms the foundation upon which everything else is built.
“God loved us so much that He sent His Son…” (Romans 5:8)
Jesus came and “dwelt” among us (John 1:14)
He came in love to relate to us – build relationships
He became one of us so He could relate to us
He connected with people
He was present with people … focused on that person
Focused on what they were saying and needing
Saw past the words and saw past the needs – saw someone God loved
He encountered people
He related to them
He engaged with people
He embraced them and their life situation (circumstances)
He responded to people
Responded to what was said as He listened with His heart
Didn’t switch to His Gospel message – He was living it
Didn’t switch to His own situation
Didn’t fix people or chase people
Didn’t quote the Bible when dealing one-on-one
This is what love does…
He connected
He engaged
He embraced
He responded
He released / shared love – people knew they were loved
So, Jesus dwelling among us…
His presence
He belonged
He connected
He identified
For the people He encountered and who received Him … they received love
Because Jesus is God and God is love
Then their task was to release that love so others would be impacted by it … reach the lost
And they / we are to do this by “dwelling” – – connecting, engaging, embracing, responding
Then the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled
Loving God with our whole heart (because He first loved us)
Loving ourself – because God loves us and is helping us become…
Loving others – sharing the love
Let me repeat: a “safe person” in our life would:
1> Draw us closer to God
2> Draw us closer to others
3> Help us become the real person God created us to be
Jesus was this safe person – and we are called to be ‘safe people’ for others
Those who are already believers and part of the assembly
Those who have yet to encounter and embrace His love
1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1a “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love …”
We need to encounter Him and His love and become born again
We need to experience His love regularly
We need to receive His love – embrace it, engage with it, walk in it
We then need to release His love
“Walk in love and give it away”
Many believers intellectually know that they are loved – the Bible tells them they are
Many believers have not encountered or experienced His love / are not encountering
Many believers then are unable to love God, themselves, or others because they have not “been loved”
You cannot give what you do not have…
You can enter a room  – let’s call the room “worship”
People are singing
People are raising their hands
But just because you are there does not mean you have worshipped
You have to embrace the worship
You have to engage in the worship
You have to respond to the words from your heart
You need to connect to the Lord with your heart and head
You need to join the others who are worshipping
Let me say that using a different example
You might say that you are friends with this certain person
So, you have entered the room marked “friendship”
But have you engaged the friendship
Have you embraced the friendship
Are you there for the person – present / dwelling?
Are you listening with your heart?
Is this friend the focus or are you your focus?
Do you respond to what is being shared?
Are you investing in this relationship / friendship?
Just because you are in the “room” does not a friend make!
Just because you are a Christian does not mean you are encountering and experiencing His love
You can encounter and experience His love but it is not automatic
You need to open up and let Him love you on His terms
You need to receive His love
You need to engage with His love
You need to embrace His love
You need to respond to His love
You need to walk in His love
You need to give this love away by loving others
Out of your encounter and experience of His love you can then walk in “grace” and “truth” as Jesus did
Love is the foundation
Grace and Truth are then built upon love as the foundation
Jesus was “full of grace…”
We receive ‘grace’ just as we receive ‘love’
It is a gift that we don’t deserve but we need to receive
Yes, you received grace when you were born again
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Grace means you are:
Loved unconditionally
Accepted just as you are
Forgiven totally
None of which you deserve or earned
We are to receive grace every day
Never experiencing “guilt” or “condemnation”
Not having to prove yourself to Him or to others
Comfortable in who you are and where you are at
Not earning His acceptance or love by what you are doing
Performance religion… read you Bible, pray, pray in tongues, worship
Earning His love – then you do not understand grace
Then, when we are ‘living by grace’- then and only then can we live “graciously”
Only then can we relate to others with grace
Accepting them as they are
Forgiving them when they hurt you
Being there for them when they need you – supportive, loyal
Treating others with dignity and respect regardless
Grace is very practical and can be seen and experienced by others through you
But, you cannot give away what you do not have
So, we need to be continually receiving and embracing His grace
Most born again believers, if they were to examine their life, would come to realize they are not walking in His grace
They hold to a performance-based religion / works religion
2 Timothy 3:5 “  …having the appearance of godliness, but denying its (life-changing) power”
Jesus lived “grace” – He knew He was loved unconditionally by the Father
Jesus treated every person with grace … they knew they were loved, accepted, forgiven
Jesus was “full of grace and truth”
We need both grace and truth in our lives
All grace means no standards and no boundaries – sloppy agape
A powerless love which is really not love at all – They don’t “speak the truth in love”
All truth means we become legalistic and live by rules – legalism
Often self-imposed rules and traditions
We need to balance out grace and truth in our lives just as Jesus did
But, to state the obvious, to live by the Truth we need to be in the truth
The Word of God is the truth … “My Words are truth” (John 17:17)
To live by the Truth we need to have the truth in us
That means being in God’s Word and letting His Word be in us
That means letting the Word speak to us and minister to us
Not looking for proof texts to back up your latest ideas
Not looking for ways to justify your life style and interpersonal behaviour
Not looking for the next promise to receive and claim
Not looking for God to back up your latest “God said…”
This means reading the Word without a personal agenda so it can do its work in us
Letting the Word enter your heart and bring changes to your life from the inside out
Many believers do not really believe the Word of God
It is used to justify our own choices and lifestyle
It is known fact that:
We only truly believe the truth that we apply (received and embraced)
And only the “applied truth” changes us and transforms us from the inside out
So, most believers are not changing, growing, maturing…
“… Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7)
And, as a result, when they are relating to others (believers and non-believers) they are unable to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15)
So, like love and grace we need to experience God’s Word which is “spirit and life” (John 6:63)
We need to embrace it
We need to engage with it
We need to apply it
We need to live it
We need to do more than read it and know it
And, then we can share the Word (Truth) with others ‘in love’ and they will believe it because they will see it active in your every day life.
GRACE and TRUTH can only become the “norm” in our lives as we relate to other people and receive feedback and input from them – truth spoken in love
Grace and Truth become a vital part of us as we share together in Christian fellowship
And, as we apply grace and truth in our fellowship we will experience the love of God
As a result of God working with us in our fellowship together with Him and each other…
We are better prepared to “dwell” with people – engaging and embracing them and their life situations
Then we can treat them with grace – being gracious in our interactions with them
Treating them with dignity and respect
Loving them, accepting them as they are, forgiving them when they hurt you
And, we will earn the right to share the Truth with them …
But first it must work here within the fellowship of believers
If it doesn’t work at home, don’t export it!