Jesus was a friend to sinners, including tax collectors, a Samaritan woman with five failed marriages, and a criminal on a cross. But the church nowadays is increasingly seen as the moral police, where sinners don’t feel loved. We should focus on our own moral purity but reach out to others, caring for the oppressed and devoting ourselves to the sick and the poor.
Christ was a Galilean man with a family but declared Himself as God. He said: I forgive your sins; I am sending you prophets; I and the Father are one; anyone who has seen me has seen the Father; I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me; and before Abraham was born, I am.
Belonging to a monotheistic people, the disciples might have been startled and even offended by Christ’s supposed arrogance. For three years, they couldn’t understand Him. But weeks after His crucifixion, they worshipped Him as God, through whom all things were made.
Did God personally experience the cross? If not, Christ’s crucifixion could be seen as cosmic child abuse. Like the disciples, we need to decide if He is the Son of God, a madman, or something worse.
Jesus reveals the image of the invisible God. Through Him, we see God more clearly. In the Old Testament, God is seen as omnipotent, distant, and terrifying. But Christ demonstrated God’s loving and serving nature. Now, in view of the price Christ paid, we can call on God as Abba, the loving Father.
Jesus reveals a compassionate God searching for us, a God desperate to get His family back. God wants us to love Him. This has been illustrated in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. God the Father demonstrated His love by sacrificing His Son’s life for us. Some may even consider His approaches reckless (1 John 4:9,10,16).
Jesus reveals what we, created as the image of God, were meant to be, and how far we have missed the mark.
Jesus shows God enduring weakness, insults, hardships, and persecution to defeat sin, overcome death, triumph over Satan, and get His family back. We are healed by His wounds, not His miracles.
Summary of “The Difference He Makes,” Chapter 14 of The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
耶稣是罪人的朋友，无论是税吏、有过五次婚姻失败的撒玛利亚妇人, 还是被钉在十字架上的罪犯。 但今天的教会越来越被视为道德警察，罪人感受不到教会的爱。 我们应该注重自己道德的纯洁, 但向他人要伸出援手，关心受压迫的人，为病人和穷人奉献上自己的力量。
基督是一个有家庭的加利利人，但宣称自己是上帝。 祂说：我赦免你们的罪； 我差遣先知给你们； 我与父原为一； 人看见了我，就是看见了父； 我就是道路、真理、生命； 若不是藉着我，没有人能到父那里去； 还没有亚伯拉罕就有了我。
上帝亲自经历了十字架吗？ 如果不是，基督钉十字架可能会被视为宇宙性的虐待小孩的行为。 我们像门徒一样，也需要决定祂是上帝的儿子、疯子、 或者更糟糕的.
耶稣揭示了看不见的上帝之形象， 我们藉着祂更清楚地看到上帝。 在旧约中上帝被视为无所不能、遥不可及并可惧可怕的，但基督彰显了上帝慈爱和服侍的本质。我们现在鉴于基督所付的代价，可以称上帝为阿爸，那位慈爱的父。
耶稣揭示了一位正在寻找我们的慈悲上帝，一位不顾一切想要祂的家人回归的上帝。祂希望我们爱祂，迷失的羔羊、丢失的钱币和回头的浪子这三个比喻就说明了这点。 天父为我们牺牲祂独生爱子, 表达了祂的爱。 一些人甚至可能认为祂所使用的方法是恣意的（约翰一书 4:9,10,16）。
Our relationship with God requires love, faith, and knowledge, all intertwined together (1 John 4:16). Our faith needs the Holy Spirit to renew our heads and hearts because only spiritual beings know spiritual things. Therefore, we must be born again (John 3:7).
We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Such love has the following attributes.
I. Acknowledge our love for God.
Christ deserves our love, at least due to the sacrifice He made. He also demands it. For those ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of them later. Those who acknowledge Him before others will be acknowledged before His heavenly Father (Luke 9:26, Matthew 10:32-33). Also, acknowledging Him will put them among the most blessed, such as the angels in heaven.
If we so acknowledge and live consistently, we may influence others and receive great blessings, because it demonstrates that we are not of the world. But beware that the world will attack us (Genesis 3:15).
II. Our love comes from knowledge and faith, knowing and believing that God loves us so much that He gave His only son so we may have eternal life (1 John 4:16, John 3:16).
Consider how God has chosen us, redeemed us through His sacrifice, and taken us into Him. Look at His mercy supporting us daily. This will create in us a love for Him. If we don’t love Him, we are extremely ungrateful.
In this way, such love will come naturally. It can’t be forced and isn’t because of duty. We just can’t help but love Him because He first loved us. But, like love for our children, our love for God doesn’t come out all the time.
III. Our love is based on a great mystery.
It is a mystery why God loves us. We can only attribute it to His grace and faithfulness. Give God all the glory.
IV. Our love is a force sustained by a higher force, which is God’s love to us.
God’s love is extremely powerful. Nothing can stop His love.
Christ’s love compels us, empowering us to do impossible things, such as living not for ourselves but for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Summary of a sermon by Charles Spurgeon:
信徒与上帝的关系需要爱、信和知识彼此交织在一起（约翰一书 4:16）。我们的信仰需要圣灵来更新我们的头脑和心灵，因为只有属灵的人才知道属灵的事。 所以，我们必须重生（约翰福音 3:7）。
我们爱上帝因为祂先爱我们（约翰一书 4:19）。 这样的爱有以下的属性。
至少因为基督的牺牲,祂配得我们的爱。爱基督是祂的要求。以祂为耻的人，祂也会以他们为耻。在人面前承认祂的，祂也会在天父面前承认他们（路加福音 9:26，马太福音 10:32-33）。承认祂的人将被放在最受祝福的（例如天使）被造中间。
(二) 我们的爱来自知识和信心, 知道并相信上帝爱我们，甚至将祂的独生子赐给我们，使我们得永生（约翰一书 4:16, 约翰福音 3:16）。
所以，这样的爱是自然而然，不能被强迫, 也不是出于责任感。 我们情不自禁地爱祂，因为祂先爱我们。但就像对自己儿女的爱一样, 我们对上帝的爱不会每时每刻都流露出来。
基督的爱激励我们，赐我们力量去完成不可能的事情, 例如不再为自己而活，单单为祂而活（哥林多后书 5:14-15）。
True spirituality is to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind, and to love one another as ourselves. Matthew22:37-39. When we love God, we would love what He loves also.
Such love is more vital than to be a scholar of the Bible. Knowledge is valuable and indispensable in our life. We True spirituality is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love one another as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). When we love God, we will love what He loves also.
Such love is more vital than to be a scholar of the Bible. Knowledge is valuable and indispensable in our life. We need to use our God-given mind to understand and love Him. But knowledge by itself does not bring life. Intelligence even can hinder us in following God if it leads to arrogance. God’s revelation goes to the humble (Matthew 11:25).
Having such love is more valuable than serving as a missionary in a faraway land. Without love, even if we give all we have to the poor and suffer, we gain nothing. Without love, even if we have the faith that can achieve great things, we are nothing (Matthew 22:39, John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:20-21, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
We need to love God more than our own ambitions or money. We cannot serve God and money simultaneously. Note that being wealthy and loving God can co-exist, and rarely do we see a beggar who does not love money (Luke 16:13).
But why should we love God?
We should love God because He first loves us (1 John 4:19). Meditate on the love of God. In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Matthew 26:38). He went through excruciating pain and was crucified on a cross. At one point, even God the Father forsook Him (Matthew 27:46). Christ went through hell so that we would not have to. Ask God to make us see clearly and comprehend deeply His love for us.
We should love God because He has forgiven our sins. We have made lots of mistakes, alienating ourselves and hurting others. Our iniquities continue even after our commitment to follow Christ. Ask God to open our eyes to see the seriousness of our sins. The more we realize His mercy in forgiving our sins, the more we love Him because “whomever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47).
True spirituality is to love God and our neighbors.
Summarized a sermon by Zac Poonen:
In ancient times, there were no hotels. Travelers sometimes depended on local people to take care of them, at times waiting outside a city gate for residents to invite them in and provide them lodging.
Jewish hospitality could go even further. Their laws required them to love foreigners, partially because they themselves were foreigners in Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).
Similarly, Christians should be hospitable to strangers, and should proactively protect the marginalized (Hebrews 13:2-3).
Where do we get the impetus to help them? We are more inclined to be good to our neighbors because they could help us later. But most likely, we would never see a stranger again.
First, know that things on earth are transient. They do not belong to us. They are not here just for us. At best, we could only keep them for a very short time. Also, remember that what we have are gifts from God. So don’t focus on using them solely for our own benefits, forgetting the needs of others. Use them to benefit the community, to benefit others as well. For example, build stable families to benefit our children.
Second, know that God is always with us. Though we have turned away from God so as to run our own lives, God has promised us unconditionally that He would not leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). This was shown by Christ sacrificing Himself for us. To make us children of God, Christ suffered terribly, forsaken by both humans and God the Father (Hebrews 13:12, Mark 15:34).
Third, know that Christ has prepared our real home with God the Father (John 14:2). It is a glorious place in the house of God (Revelation 21 and 22). Let’s look forward to it (Hebrews 13:14).
In conclusion, be aware that things on earth are transient. Nothing on earth could endure the test of time. But God loves us and is always with us. He has a wonderful place prepared for us in heaven, so look forward to our permanent home that is to come. For our short time on Earth, let us be good to strangers as God has been to us. It is possible that you might be entertaining an angel (Hebrews 13:2).
Summarized from a Tim Keller sermon.
犹太人的款待可以更进一步。他们的律法要求他们爱寄居的外来人, 部分原因是犹太人本身也曾经是埃及的寄居客(申命记10：17-19) 。
我们从哪里得到这种行为的驱动力呢? 我们更可能对邻居好，因为他们以后可以帮助我们。 但我们如果帮助陌生人，很有可能再也见不到他们，得不到任何回报。
首先，我们要知道世上的东西都是短暂的。它们既不属于我们，也不只是为了我们而存在。我们最多只能保留它们很短的时间。并且记住我们拥有的都是上帝的恩赐。因此，不要只关注它们是否对自己有用， 而忘记别人的需求。也应该使用自己所有的来使我们生活的社区受益, 使我们周边的其他人受益。比方说，可以帮助建造稳定的家庭使孩子们受益。
其次，要知道上帝永远与我们同在。虽然我们离开上帝要过自我操控的生活，但上帝无条件地应许我们，祂不会撇下或丢弃我们 (希伯来书13：5)。基督为我们舍命就是明证。为使我们成为父神的孩子, 祂遭受了极大的痛苦, 被人类和父神离弃 （希伯来书13:12, 马可福音15:34）。
此外，要知道基督还与父神一起为我们预备了真正的家 (约翰福音14：2)。这是上帝的家, 一个荣耀的地方 (启示录21和22) 。让我们期待它吧 (希伯来书13:14) 。