I John 4: 7-12
James M. Moody
READING FOR WORSHIP GUIDE: I John 4: 7-12
|Sunday||12/11||Proverbs Ch. 11; I John 4:1-12|
|Monday||12/12||Proverbs Ch. 12; I John 4:13-16|
|Tuesday||12/13||Proverbs Ch. 13; I John 4:17-21|
|Wednesday||12/14||Proverbs Ch. 14; Matthew 23:1-22|
|Thursday||12/15||Proverbs Ch. 15; Matthew 23:23-39|
|Friday||12/16||Proverbs Ch. 16; II Corinthians 4:1-18|
|Saturday||12/17||Proverbs Ch. 17|
We Write the Narrative X – By knowing what love is
I John 4: 7-12 – “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
The passage just read speaks of love and the sharing of love with others who share this pin head in the cosmos that we call earth. While being central to our existence and a connector of humankind, love is one of the most misunderstood concepts we volley about in our words and in our deeds.
Some of you may be wondering why the idea of love is being used as the central theme of these words during the celebration of Advent. But when one uses a Biblical framework in describing love, we soon recognize that the coming of Christ exemplifies love in its most effective and endearing forms.
So we look to the Word of God this Advent Season, to describe what “LOVE IS.”
Love is the loftiest preference…
The passage of Scripture tells us that “God showed God’s love…God sent God’s one and only Son into the world…”
There’s our first clue. God showed love through God’s best.
Love is the loftiest/highest preference one can demonstrate for another
Love is a demonstrated preference made real through action.
Love reaches far beyond mushy mushy; touchy feely; goo goo googy.
Love is a preference demonstrated through action!
Jesus wasn’t touchy feely. When he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money in the temple courtyard, He made a whip out of cords, and drove all of them from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changes and overturned their tables. (John 2: 15)
Love is strong and confronts the injustice of pharisaism. (Matthew 23:1-36)
A teacher in a public school was teaching her third grade students about mammals in the sea. She mentioned that the whale is a large animal living in the sea. Even though it is one of the largest sea creatures, it has a very narrow throat, and so it cannot swallow an adult human being.
A girl in the class spoke up, “But it swallowed Jonah!”
“No,” the teacher said, “It just cannot swallow an adult human being. Because, as I said, even though it is a large animal, it has a very narrow throat and so cannot swallow an adult human being.”
The girl persisted, “Well, when I go to heaven, I will ask Jonah.”
“What if Jonah is not in heaven; what if he is in hell?” the teacher asked.
The girl’s response, “Then you ask him!”
You laughed, didn’t you? Why? Because you made a value judgment on that teacher. You made a value judgment that the girl was going to heaven, the teacher was going to hell and, more important than that, you will be in heaven, because unlike that teacher, you believe the Word of God.
This gives us the definition of pharisaism. Pharisaism is making a value judgment on someone else based on one’s own assumed secure position.
Of course, making a value judgment is not always wrong. However, what we have to be aware of is that before we make any value judgment on someone else, we have to examine how secure our own assumed position is. When it comes to pharisaism, sincerity really does not matter. You can be extremely sincere, and yet sincerely wrong!
THE RHETORIC MUST STOP NOW! It doesn’t matter which side of the “fence” one is on. We must examine our own positions
LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL AND UNCONDITIONAL
The passage goes on to tell us that, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent God’s Son as an atoning sacrifice…”
There’s the second clue. God imposed no condition on us that we would first love God before God would love us and sacrifice for us.
Love is unconditional and sacrificial!
Young couple who went to furnish their home who wanted good furniture, they wanted it at cheap prices.
Went to furniture store to room behind “scratch and dent” items where all of the items were marked “AS IS”.
A coffee table with a chip near the center of the glass was marked “AS IS”.
A sofa with a Coca Cola stain was marked “AS IS”.
A refrigerator with a large visible dent in its side was marked “AS IS”
The couple made offer at a fraction of the cost of the items and the sales person accepted saying, “We were only going to discard these things and through them out.”
Couple took a coffee table book and covered the chip in the glass.
They took some “Energine” spot remover and washed away the stained the sofa.
They moved the refrigerator into a slot in the kitchen into which it fit perfectly.
Love understand’s that people come marked “AS IS”!
Love covers the chips and cracks in people’s lives by giving to folks from whom love won’t recoop its investment.
Love washes away the stains of people’s past by giving them the benefit of the doubt and allowing them the opportunity to grow.
Love has never given up on any individual, on this congregation, or on this community making sure we have a place to fit in no matter what we’re were battling.
Finally, the passage of Scripture tells us that “God is love.” And “we also ought to love one another.”
That’s our final clue because God perfect. Therefore love is perfect! But we are imperfect, yet called to love each other!
The Bible tells us that “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (II Corinthians 4:7)
Love is perfect but the containers are flawed.
Love is perfect but we are flawed.
We, in our flawed imperfection, attempt to express love for others using ourselves as the instruments of delivery.
You and I aren’t perfect.
You and I makes mistakes.
Anybody who is working to make things happen makes mistakes!
We aren’t perfect, but we can love each other with a perfect love delivered in imperfect vessels. We can love each other in the way we know how to love.
In closing, a quick glimpse at the love Christ has demonstrated toward us, expresses simply and clearly what love is.
“LOVE IS” Jesus’ demonstrated preference for the well being of every individual, this church, and this community.
“LOVE IS” Jesus’ unconditional and sacrificial willingness to help other ascend to the heights of their unique potential or rise from the depths of their circumstances.
“LOVE IS” perfect, yet love is delivered into the lives of others in imperfect containers. Sometimes chipped. Sometimes stained. Sometimes dented. But always filled with love.
This Advent season, slow down, take a look at Jesus. Now you see what LOVE IS!