At the beginning of her sermon this week, Andrea asked us to keep Pastor Phyl’s series “Unoffendable” in mind. She told us that God desires freedom for us. That is the true heart of God. He can’t act against our will. If there is anything in us that we don’t believe that Jesus is big enough to overcome, then God can’t act on it. We must be the ones to trust and believe, so that God can work in our lives.

Andrea asked us why we always seem to get so hung up on minutiae. This is what Paul was saying in Galatians, when the Jewish leaders continued to insist that they needed to obey the law. He tried to tell them that there was no need to obey the law, because Jesus’ blood covered any and every sin that we are ever likely to commit.

In truth, Jesus is all we need. Andrea then asked why we always seem to look for reasons to come against “It is finished”. Life is short, and our purpose is to show people Jesus and to lead them to Him. We must show them the authority, seniority and freedom of Jesus Christ.

How many of us live in fear of being free? Every word in scripture is God breathed. Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

Nothing counts except ‘faith expressed in love’. This is what God does, and without God, we are nothing. We need Him to fuel everything; our decisions; actions, and our conversations. Love is what powers our faith and makes it grow.

Andrea encouraged us to put our scars on show, and tell the world of what God has done for us. The enemy wants us guilty and wrapped up, but God brought us through these situations, so that we could bring that testimony to others.

Andrea then gave us three points to follow if we are to focus on the only thing that counts. Firstly, “Don’t dabble. Focus.” Nothing now counts but faith expressing itself as love. We are lucky, because we have the Bible, which gives us the archetypes; the original pattern for faith in love. Paul did not have this, and so we can see that his faith really was expressed in love. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance about what we do not see”. The truth is that it isn’t faith if you use your eyes.

The love of Christ is complete. He showed this when He poured out His blood for us on the cross; when He bore our sin, so that we didn’t have to. In the same way, our love should also be complete, because He is in us. We must believe it because it is real in our hearts.

God is love.

This doesn’t stop us from doing the wrong thing, or from making mistakes, but He lifts us up as co-heirs with Christ. The truth is that we are not alone. Loneliness is from hell, but Christ completes us. We don’t need anyone else to make us whole. We have God. We just need to ‘stop playing small’, and realise that we serve a great, great God, and He is not looking for empty words, but for a heart that’s open to Him.

Secondly, Andrea said that Obedience is better than sacrifice. Sharing from Samuel, when Saul rushed in and made sacrifices when he had been told to wait, she explained that from that moment, because Saul was disobedient, he went on to live an embittered life. God challenged him. In the same way, God wants us to challenge parts of our own behaviour that is unpalatable. Andrea explained that Saul bore a grudge and spent the remainder of his life attempting to kill David. The truth is that we are never more un-Christlike than when we withhold from people. We are called to pray blessings and not curses over people. We are called to let grudges and bad feeling go. We are called to not stand in a place where even if we aren’t saying it, we have resentment in our hearts.

Our faith is empowered by love.

Thirdly, Andrea spoke from 1 Corinthians 13, where it says: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Andrea encouraged us to let Jesus heal us. Instead of getting offended, we must take our offence to Jesus and lay it at the foot of the cross. In truth, when we change, people will get offended. That’s how the enemy works, but we are not supposed to avoid telling people the truth. Andrea encouraged us to not attempt to make the gospel palatable because when we do that, we are short changing God. We must not water down the facts. Sometimes it can be easier to believe a ‘version’ of the gospel than what it actually says, but when we do this, we are not working as agents of God.

In closing, Andrea encouraged us to remember the words in Corinthians, and told us that God is love. If we are truly to be followers of Christ, then we must become unoffendable, like Him, and we must turn our eyes to ‘the only thing that counts. Jesus.

Scriptures: Galatians 5:6, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13

The Only Thing That Counts by Andrea Parry