Verse of the week: Romans 15:1
1 “Now those who are mature in their faith an easily be recognized, for they don’t live to lease themselves but have learned to patiently embrace others.”
Welcome to Week 1 of our new series, PDA! Now, this message title may leave you in confusion, or raise a few eyebrows. For those that don’t know, PDA stands for “Public Displays of Affection.” This series is all about relationships! But don’t worry, we won’t just be diving into romantic connections.
This series is about all kinds of relationships, all the way from friendships to marriages. See, God does his best work in the context of relationships. He actually designed us to be together in community!
All the way back in the beginning, the first thing that God says is not good (Genesis 2:18), is that“It is not good for man to be alone.” He has put on our heart an incredible draw to be connected to other people. And you may be a bit of a lone wolf, and don’t feel that way, but maybe you haven’t experienced the fullness of real connection in life.
Relationships are an amazing way not only to fill your heart with joy, but also how we can continue growing in spiritual maturity. Need proof? Look no further than our theme verse this week, which talks about patiently embracing others. The outward sign that God is doing an inward work in your life right now is your ability to patiently embrace others.
Today, we’ll be discussing some of the things that stand in the way of us living and giving that embrace in our lives:
#1: That's just not me.
We might think that living the embrace is a personality trait that only some have.But look at the story of Saul, who literally murdered Christians. After an encounter with Jesus, he incredibility pivots to talk about the Father’s love, embracing the early church and their members.
Embracing others isn’t the personality of some people or some churches – this is Jesus’ calling on our life! If we want to spiritually mature, we may need to push out of our comfort zone so we can live more like Jesus – practically loving others in our cities and communities.
Culture pushes back against the idea of embrace.Looking for, and giving comfort, is viewed as weak. We want to call out that lie. Culture may say that the tougher we get, the less we need embrace, but in truth, the ability to embrace is the sign of our strength. We know that people need people, and we want to be God’s hands and feet and partner with His plan to embrace others in our city, nation, and around the world.
#2: Past hurts.
Relational hurts are at an all-time high. Unfortunately, hurt builds walls in our lives. Hurt can cause major trust issues, to the point where we don’t want to let anyone back in our hearts anymore.
To grow and be able to embrace others, and receive embrace, those walls need to come down. We need to let people into the “real” of our lives. But we can’t tear down those walls without the help of God and the help of other people. We need a community of people that know what’s really going on, and who will constantly point us toward Jesus.
Why? Because God is the source of endurance and comfort, who brings us unity from our relationship with Jesus. The closer we get to Him, the easier it is for those walls to come down, and the closer we can get to other people. He wants to shape our heart to one of embrace, by first embracing us right where we’re at.
Past hurts are not fair – and it can be really easy to hold onto blame, and bitterness in the name of justice. But justice without Jesus is just judgement– there is no forgiveness. If we hold onto the past, it limits our ability to move forward in healthy relationships. That’s not to say we should dismiss past hurts – but we need to understand them, deal with them, and put in the work to move forward from them. And we can’t do that without God.
#3: Why is embracing important?
We’ve discussed what it means to embrace others, and the obstacles holding us back from receiving embrace ourselves. But what is the greater purpose of embracing others? Romans 15:7 says, “You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One [Jesus] has fully accepted you and received you as His partner.
We all need embrace, but we should be proactive about giving it. By embracing others, we are demonstrating proof of spiritual maturation, and we are helping others on that same journey. But more than that, we are emulating Jesus, and aligning our heart to His. As Christians, that’s our goal – to be more like Him every day
Make sure to check out the full message below!