Here I am … loved by God
Düsseldorf. Closing event and highlight of the International Youth Convention. 30,000 young believers came together in the Arena on Sunday morning for a divine service. Chief Apostle Schneider reminded the believers in his sermon of the omnipresent love of God. This love is to become tangible and perceptible in our fellowship through the young Christians.
At the beginning of the divine service on 2 June 2019, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider looked back over the last few days of the youth convention and thanked the youth on behalf of the Apostles for all the preparation and congratulated them: “You have done a great deal of work, and God blessed your work with success.” In particular, the Chief Apostle praised the young people in how they did all of this together: “You filled the fellowship with life, and brought the motto of the youth convention, ‘Here I am’, to life.”
Sharing the gospel of God’s nearness and love
The Chief Apostle based his sermon on John 13: 34–35. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“Here I am,” God says, “I am here for you,” the Chief Apostle said, adding: “God says: tell that to your neighbour. I am also here for him.” The Chief Apostle wished that the young Christians would respond as follows: “Here I am! That is what I am going to do.” It is our mission to pass the gospel of God’s nearness and love on.
Witnessing Christ: loving and accepting
In response to the question how this can be implemented in today’s life situations, the Chief Apostle said that Christ gives a clear answer in our Bible text: “People recognise that you are disciples of God if you live this love among one another.” Jesus was not talking about human love, he said, where people love and expect to be loved in return, but the love of God.
God’s love lives in us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is this gift which the young believers are to make tangible and perceptible. “Show your neighbour how God loves him—share God’s love,” the Chief Apostle appealed to the youth.
Sharing and helping one another
“We are rich in Christ and want to share this wealth.” In a time of increasing selfishness that means that we need to sincerely share the joy and suffering of our neighbour, he said. “Let us pray for one another, let us share with one another.” In order to express His love, Christ helped the people in a concrete way. The Chief Apostle called upon the youth to not only pray, but to actually act and do something to alleviate our neighbour’s plight, both in the circle of the youth, the congregation, and the Church as a whole.
Christ constantly sought fellowship with His disciples. This is still as important today, the Chief Apostle said. “Let’s be together and work together—and in real life, not only via the Internet and the smartphone. Pray together, experience divine services, and celebrate Holy Communion,” the Chief Apostle appealed to the youth. Sometimes one needs to bring a sacrifice for this: “Participate, get involved, even if you don’t feel like it at the moment,” the Chief Apostle encouraged the youth. Being active in our fellowship creates joy.
Christ forgave His disciples over and over and granted them reconciliation. In the circle of the youth there are also conflicts, the Chief Apostle said. Let us use the love of God as a source of strength in order to forgive our neighbour.
Core thoughts for the future generation
The Chief Apostle said that many of the aspects that had been mentioned were already being lived by the young people, as could be seen over the past couple of days. But he said that it is important to him to give the new and future generation of the Church the core thought and these particular points to take along. “God loves you and expects that you also tell your neighbour that. The proclamation of the gospel begins with the fact that we love one another, accept one another, share with one another, help one another, spend time with one another, work with one another, forgive and reconcile with one another.”
Young New Apostolic Christians are not alone on this path. Christians serve their Master Jesus Christ also in other denominations. “This service is comprised of showing people that God loves everyone.” That is why the New Apostolic Church fosters good relationships with other Churches.
What if there are difficulties when we proclaim the gospel: “With God’s love we can overcome disappointments and resistance, and then simply carry on. … Let us love one another as Jesus loves us. That will give the congregation, the Church, and Christianity a special kind of radiance.”
Forgiving and reconciling
In preparation for the forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion, the Chief Apostle made reference to the parable of the lost son. Jesus is waiting for the believers just like the father in the parable waited for his lost son. “Jesus is here in His church and all of us, as members and ministers, want to help you experience Him.” However, sometimes ministers and Apostles are an obstacle in experiencing the love of Jesus. “We apologise for this. Please forgive us,” the Chief Apostle said.