Pastor Terrell L. McTyer, Minister of New Church Strategies, delivered a virtual Christmas Eve sermon for the First Christian Church of Oakland, CA. We’ve posted it here on our blog in hopes that it will inspire you for 2021.

16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”

John 3:16-18, The Message

10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” 

John 10:10-11, New International Version (NIV)

Christmas is a focus on the birth of Jesus. But like all of us, Jesus was birthed on purpose and with a purpose. Understanding, appreciating and affirming that purpose can take us from acknowledgement to action. 

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I live life on purpose”. I came with an intention and everything I did was to intentionally fulfill that purpose. 

Jesus lived with an intention and lived intentionally every day. Jesus expects the same of you and me. 

How does what you are doing today line up with your purpose? How does the way you execute the meaning of Christmas line up with your purpose? If you don’t know, it may be because you don’t know your purpose – or more specifically, your identity. 

Identity initiates intention. Who you are should line up with your intentions, motives, goals, plans and purpose. So if you want to live LIFE on purpose, find out who you are.

Identity > Purpose > Intention & Intentionality 

Identity: Father

Purpose: Train my children (Proverbs 22:6)

Intention & Intentionality: The reason I am a father is for THEM not ME.

Identity: Pastor

Purpose: Equip the children of God (Ephesians 4)

Intention & Intentionality: The reason I am a pastor is for YOU not ME.

When I worked in corporate America, I did so to make money. That was for me. When I started my own business, yes I made money, but ultimately I wanted to help people. My business were birthed from a true entrepreneurial spirit. Working a job is okay. Making money is necessary to eat. But that is simply a means to an end. That’s just a step on the journey.

If you work a job, keep working. But don’t just exist. Be on the path to your purpose. 

Jesus said, I have come that THEY may have life

NOT: I came so that I…

Jesus came to GIVE not RECEIVE

Your true identity is discovered in your GIVING not your RECEIVING. 

For instance, let’s say you dream of being a singer. One way to think about it is: I want to be a singer because I love the way it feels when I am on stage. But when you prioritize giving over receiving, you say: I am meant to be a singer because my gift changes people’s lives.

Jesus said, I have come that THEY may have life

NOT: I came so that I…

Jesus came to GIVE not RECEIVE

Jesus shows us that the connection between LIFE on Purpose and LOVE on Purpose is GIVING.

10b “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” 

John 10:10b-11, NIV

In this scripture, Jesus shows us…

How to Love (What does love do?)

In this short declaration is a plan to actuate love. 

Let’s exegete this passage by answering six simple questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why.

Who: Jesus – The Good Shepherd 

What does that mean, when looked at through the lens of love?

  1. LOVE Attracts
  • beautiful, handsome, excellent, stands out, precious, useful, commendable, admirable
  • excellent in its nature
  • beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life
  • you’re not beautiful because you look good or smell good, you’re beautiful because you love good
  • Jesus says, “I am the (Good) Better Shepherd”. Let me tell you why…
  • When you love, you not only position yourself as the right choice, but because of righteousness, you demonstrate that Christ is the right choice. 

What: Came to us

2. LOVE Goes

  • An expression of love goes to where the need is.
  • Jesus showed us he loves us by coming to us first.
  • If you wanna show love, find a way to go to the other first. 

When: Before we existed

3. LOVE Anticipates

  • We are concluding a season of anticipation called Advent. A time of hope. A time of arrival. 
  • There is a difference between anxiety and anticipation. Anxiety is worry about what might happen. Anticipation is hope for what probably will happen. Tonight my children shouldn’t have anxiety about what they might get for Christmas. Based on my track record, the eventuality of them getting what they want is high. So instead, they barely sleep because of the anticipation – the hope for what probably will happen. 
  • Because of Jesus’ love, we shouldnt be anxious for anything. Instead, trust in the Good Shepherd. He will provide. 
  • Have you ever experienced the joy of someone loving you enough to anticipate what you want and need and providing it for you? You don’t have to ask, they just seem to know. 
  • Love listens actively and pays attention so that it might one day fulfil your need. 
  • Christ did what it took that I would have abundant life before I even got on Earth
  • Your sins and shortcomings are not a surprise to God. God knew you before the pioneering of the planet. And set a plan in motion to love you on purpose. 
  • Love is prophetic. It makes you hear from God and intercede. Love makes you be the answer. Instead of just passively praying for the answer. 

Where: Right where we are

4. LOVE Empathizes

  • Love trades places. 
  • Love puts on the other person’s shoes. 
  • Love mixes sympathy with understanding to connect with the other person where they are instead of forcing them to get on your level.
  • EMPATHY is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. 
  • Someone else’s shoes might not quite fit, might be uncomfortable, may not be your style, but ideally it will help you understand their perspective a little better. 
  • In empathy, we don’t look at people as the problem. We recognize that people have a problem. And we decide to share the weight of that problem WITH them, thus lightening their burden. 
  • Jesus exemplified this. He is the epitome of compassion. As we are made in the image of God, we have a natural inclination to show mercy and have a heart that is tender, and easily moved by the distresses, sufferings, wants and infirmities of others.
  • How many of you are experiencing grief during this pandemic (the pain of mind produced by loss, misfortune, injury or evils of any kind)? 
    • There are ways to look at the hands raised. 
    • One is self-focused on your personal issues and how they are devastating your life. 
    • Or you can look at the hands raised as opportunities to help others. 
  • Christ knew he was sent here to suffer – it was a necessary part of his pathway of purpose. Yet, He led a life filled with helping others WHILE suffering. Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed came as the ultimate example of compassion and empathy.
  • The law of love to one another, John 13:34 (KJV) “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
  • Fulfilling means doing it, acting in obedience to it, and not a perfect fulfilling it; which cannot be done by sinful creatures. 
  • But realizing that, the way you love makes you unique.

How: Give everything. 

5. LOVE Gives

  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • To love on purpose is to give to others. Give them what? Everything. Your kindness, your service, your gifts, your time, your affection, your everything.

Why: this is a hard question to answer because there is no answer. For no reason. I know purpose and reason go together, but this is spiritual not analytical. 

Why do you love your mother? Why do your child? Why do you love your significant other? If you can come up with a reason, you have a condition. That condition will keep you from loving that person unconditionally. 

For instance, if I love my wife because she is a great cook… If she gets a night job and can’t cook for a while, I might stop loving her. Or if a friend of mine starts cooking for me and I like her cooking more, I might start loving her more. 

For God so loved the world… It does say why God loves us, it demonstrates what love propagates. 

So the challenge is this: To LOVE on Purpose is to LOVE for NO PURPOSE.

This isn’t a challenge for 2021, the time is now. Merry Christmas.

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