It’s Not An Option
(Living the Second Greatest Commandment)
January 11, 2002
Intro: If you knew your death was coming soon what would you say to those you love? Watch this clip from the movie “My Life” with Michael Keaton and Nichole Kidman…(This is the scene towards the end of the movie where he is saying goodbye to his infant son while he is sleeping.)
Pretty powerful huh? Let’s read John 15:9-17…” These are the words Jesus spoke to his followers not long before he was to be killed on the cross. He is giving his valedictorian address, his farewell speech. JN 15:9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”
Jesus is getting them prepared vertically and horizontally, shaping them up to live responsibly with God and with man before he leaves this world. He’s talking about abiding on the vine but also loving one another. He is putting supreme importance and weight to those two things. IN Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. Jesus responds that it is to love God and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. The focus of this message will be on the second greatest commandment.
Transition: Jesus is serious about our loving one another. Look at what John 15:17 says, “This is my command: Love each other.”
1). It is not an option! 1 John 4:21 says, “An he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” If you choose to be a follower of Jesus loving each other is not an option. It’s a commandment. It’s not just any commandment but the second greatest or important. Will you turn to the person next to you and say, “I’m commanded to love you.” Then say, “You’re commanded to love me.”
ILLUSTRATION: Have you heard the story about the actor who was playing the part of Christ in the Passion Play in the Ozarks? As he carried the cross up the hill a tourist began heckling, making fun of him, & shouting insults at him. Finally, the actor had taken all of it he could take. So he threw down his cross, walked over to the tourist, & punched him out. After the play was over, the director told him, "I know he was a pest, but I can’t condone what you did. Besides, you’re playing the part of Jesus, & Jesus never retaliated. So don’t do anything like that again." Well, the man promised he wouldn’t. But the next day the heckler was back worse than before, & finally the actor exploded & punched him out again.
The director said, "That’s it. I have to fire you. We just can’t have you behaving this way while playing the part of Jesus." The actor begged, "Please give me one more chance. I really need this job, & I can handle it if it happens again." So the director decided to give him another chance.The next day he was carrying his cross up the street. Sure enough, the heckler was there again. You could tell that the actor was really trying to control himself, but it was about to get the best of him. He was clinching his fists & grinding his teeth. Finally, he looked at the heckler & said, "I’ll meet you after the resurrection!" (Contributed by Pastor Melvin Newland via www.sermoncentral.com)
2). Jesus was serious about us loving one another because it shows we know God!
1John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
You can’t say you know God and refuse to love others. It’s a sign you know him—and know him by experience.
3). Jesus was serious about our loving one another because it reveals whether or not God lives in us. 1John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” The Message translation says, “No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” Does God live in you? He does if you love others.
Love is the distinguishing mark of the child of God. It is also the distinguishing mark of the church of God!
"Christ demands that the driving force in your life must be love. All other things, although important, are secondary. Love is the sign of true discipleship. "
— Solly Ozrovech (www.sermoncentral.com)
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 1CO 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
We can’t substitute spiritual gifts for genuine love. Love can’t be replaced by good preaching ability or singing ability or the ability to have great faith. Genuine love for others can’t be substituted with money. You can’t put a price tag on love. A church can survive without a huge budget but it can’t survive without love. It might keep its doors open but the spiritual life is gone.
ILLUSTRATION: A prostitute came to a man who worked with the down and out in Chicago. She was in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told the man she had been renting out her daughter—two years old!—to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. The man could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. He had no idea what to say to this woman. At last he asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. The man will never forget the look of pure, naïve shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
Philip Yancey What’s So Amazing About Grace? P. 11
Transition: So, how are we supposed to love others? John 15:12 gives us the answer. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Wow. What a responsibility. How did he love us? Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do but how to do it…
· By his own initiative. “We love because he first loved us!” 1John 4:19
God came near to us. From creation to the cross and after the resurrection—God is always taking the initiative…to love us and care for us and lead us. He didn’t have to persuaded or prodded. He sees something very valuable in every person.
When we didn’t deserve to be loved…he loved us. You know, I’m so glad God is for the underdog. That’s exactly where each and everyone of us is at.
· By his actions
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He willingly laid down his life for us. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” He goes on to call his disciples friends.
John 13:1 says, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” He soon after taught them about servanthood and washed their feet.
We have the greatest model of how to love by looking to Jesus. For many, it seems we’ve been looking at the wrong model.
Transition: Now think about it. If Jesus calls these his greatest commandments. Doesn’t it make sense that our arch enemy and all of his forces will do whatever it takes to keep us from obeying them?
ILLUSTRATION: Think about it. Before two teams face another in a game they come up with a strategy. They study and try to capitalize on weaknesses but they also come up with a way to shut down your strengths. So, if your team has a great running back, the opposite team wants to shut him down to keep you from making yardage and from scoring.
So, the enemy will do whatever it takes to keep you from loving God. The devil doesn’t even want to turn you into a devil worshipper. He just wants you to get distracted, get busy, fill your life up with things that keep you from loving God. He has the same strategy with keeping you from loving others. He’ll plant seeds of doubt, discord, anger, jealously to keep conflict happening. Now, no doubt I think the we give the devil more credit than he deserves but understand he will throw out all the ammunition he can muster at us to keep us from living the second greatest commandment. Now, we are going to have problems. It’s not a matter of if but when. Every church has its problems. Most of the letters written to churches in the New Testament were written to churches having some sort of problem. Fortunatly the Bible teaches us how to avoid some problems but he also teaches us what to do if there are problems or broken fellowship in the church.
James 4:1-3 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
So, how can I be sure I’m living the kind of love Jesus is talking about? I’m to love others because Christ is loving me.
A. Ask God to give you a heart full of Christ like love.
If you are having problems loving someone start asking God to work in your heart towards that person. Pray specifically, “God give me a love for ____________”. I guarantee the more you draw near to God’s heart—the more your heart will become like his.
B. Put feet to your love
1John 3:16-18 says, “1JN 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. Look for practical opportunities to show love to others. This takes using your time, your talent and your treasures.
One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving.
-- Amy Carmichael (www.sermoncentral.com)
C. Follow the way of love
Yes, you and I fall short of that love. Only Christ is the perfect fulfillment of love. But you know, it’s a mark worth shooting for. Paul is directing this to the church. The church is the laborartory of love. The place where it’s one of the most important places to learn what love is like. IT might be the only place where people learn about that love.
D. Spend time with people you don’t normally spend time with.
LK 14:12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." You will be blessed! And so will the people you spend time with.
I really challenge you to do this. I often wonder how it makes God feel when he has done all he has to show us love. And yet many never even recognize it. It still doesn’t keep him from loving us.
Do we see why Jesus spent so much time with his disciples talking a bout this?
Live the second greatest commandment this week and the rest of your life.