AN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE FOR JANUARY 2020
It is with much joy that I accepted the invitation from Mr Charles Schokman, to be here and bring a Word from the Lord on this very special occasion. Charles and his family have been closely associated with the Reformed Church in Sri Lanka and growing up I remember also the late Mr. Shelton Schokman, Snr. lighting a candle on the birthday cake of the Maligakande Church at its Centenary celebrations. Today we are here to give God thanks for the vision of Mr. Shelton Schokman, carried forward by Charles and also Fiona, through the Dematagoda Christian Guild and today through Operation Hope. It is also fitting that this service is being held in this Salvation Army Chapel, as initially there was a close partnership between the two, whilst today the legacy continues through Operation Hope in partnership with LEADS.
In keeping with the motto of DCG –“By Love Serve One Another” I have chosen as my text, Galatians 5:13-14 “You my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command, love your neighbor as yourself.”
Certainly one of the hallmarks of Christianity is the demonstration of love toward one another. In John 4 we find these words, “if anyone say I love God and yet hates his brother, he is a liar.’ As professing Christians, we are to love one another, because He first loved us. The world looks for a sign of Jesus. Who is He really? What is Christianity all about? He is love. Christianity is love, love for one another and all men. Jesus Himself said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
How do we demonstrate the love of Christ to one another?
Firstly, We must accept one another.
I love the writing of Paul in Philemon regarding Onesimus. Onesimus was a runaway slave who tended to Paul’s needs. By way of introducing Onesimus to Philemon, Paul writes a commendable introduction. Calls him a “beloved brother”. Here is a person the world would look down upon. Not only a runaway slave, also a man of poor position and reputation. Yet, Paul puts him in a position of esteem, a brother. This is the first ground rule. Accept one another.
Secondly, We are to be patient with one another.
The Apostle Paul spells this out in Ephesians 4:1-3. These are great verses…amidst other things, he calls upon us “…to be patient, bearing with one another in love…” Sometimes we do not always agree with one another…especially in the church! It may come as a shock but it is true. Paul writes that when we have discord we are to “make every effort to keep the peace, by being humble, gentle and patient with one another in love.”
Thirdly, We must forgive one another.
Along with being patient toward one another, we are to be forgiving of one another. Sometimes disagreements end up with someone wronging another. Listen to what the Bible says in Colossians 3:13-14, ” Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Fourthly, We must serve one another.
This is the bottom line for us this morning. I am going back to the text I began with…Galatians 5:13- 14. The emphasis here is to “serve one another in love.” That was the vision of Shelton Schokman, carried through by Charles, Fiona and the rest of the family, caring for the elderly and the marginalized through supplementary education, livelihood, building houses, ministering to children,
dealing with abuse and trauma. In partnership with LEADS the vision and mission goes on. It is very easy to be self indulgent and think only of ourselves. We have been set free from the penalty of sin,
but Paul says, that we should not use that as an occasion to satisfy our flesh. Better, he says that we serve one another in love. When we do that we fulfill the law.
The seal of Christianity is the seal of love. Is that seal obvious in our lives? The DCG showed the way. Operation Hope continues in that way and we do thank and praise God. As Mother Theresa , who demonstrated great love in serving, once said, “Not all of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.
This Message (abridged) was given by the Revd: Charles Jansz, of the Christian Reformed Church in Sri Lanka on the occasion of the 85th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of the Dematagoda Christian Guild held at the Salvation Army Eventide Hostel on the 8th September 2019.