Summary: The people of Jesus know how to sacrifice. Genuine followers of Jesus know what it means to be faithful and experience joy in suffering. How about you? Are you weird like that?
We're in the second week of our series "defining love" last time we talked about how genuine love, God's love, isn't normal. We defined love as faithful and that the result of faithfulness is joy. We talked about how our culture defines love in a million different ways, but, God defines love much more simply. People think we’re weird. When we love the way God loves, we’re going to be talked about. Folks are not going to understand why you love God’s way. They’re going to think you’re weird.
It’s not difficult for a follower of Jesus to understand God’s love. A follower knows what love is, because they follow the teaching of Jesus, and Jesus clearly defines love and shows us what it is. But, someone who doesn’t follow Jesus will struggle with love. Our culture doesn’t know what love is. In our society, love and lust are often confused with each other.
A Jesus follower knows love. For us, it’s not difficult. It’s not confusing. If you’re struggling to define love today, let me introduce you to a personal relationship with Jesus because he’s the one who will clear it up for you.
Love is faithful. Love is faithful to God and faithful in relationships. Genuine love doesn’t bolt when things get tough. We don’t lose our faith in difficult times. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. For those who genuinely love God, difficult times are considered an opportunity to grow in faith. We receive joy in suffering. Like Paul and Silas when they were beaten and thrown in prison. How can you be singing and full of joy about your situation, if you’re suffering? Or how can Jesus on the cross gasp through his pain “Father forgive them?” Who does that? Who forgives like that? Who sings while they are being tortured? I’m telling you our culture doesn’t understand this love. People think they know what love is, but, here’s the thing, it’s impossible to understand genuine love without a relationship with Jesus Christ, because he’s the one who shows us what real love is.
1 John 4:10 says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins”
Last week we talked about how weird this kind of love is. Love is faithful. God showed us what faith looked like. This week we're going to discover that love is about sacrifice. Love is faithful, and love is sacrifice.
Love can't survive between two people and between us and God without sacrifice. Someone has to make the sacrifice. God showed us what love looks like. He was the example of what genuine love, faithful love, and sacrificial love look like.
If we talk about marriage, sacrifice shows up in a variety of ways. Anyone who has been in a relationship with another person knows this stuff. I don’t think I’m saying anything surprising here. We know that if we are in a relationship sacrifice is a big part of it. Now, we tend to learn this through some very difficult transitions.
When we’re babies and toddlers, our parents do everything for us. When we grow up a little bit, we’re given a little more responsibility. We learn to tie our own shoes, clean our rooms, make our beds and stuff like that. When we grow up a little more, we learn to do chores, maybe we do the dishes, laundry, clean the bathrooms and floors. As we grow up we should be able to do more for ourselves. But the reality is that kids are growing up more selfish and entitled than ever before.
I’ve been a front line witness of this in Youth Ministry for the last 20 years. School teachers who have been teaching for the same length of time will concur. Our kids are not learning responsibility. Obviously I’m talking about cultural norms here, not that all teens today are irresponsible, but, it’s my opinion that many of them are. Our kids expect that when the new fangled i-whatever comes out, that they’re going to get it for Christmas or on their birthday, or they can go on vacation without having to pay for any of the stuff they want. There is a growing sense of entitlement with every passing generation.
There is a mass of research about this, books like, “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever”, is one example.
In my research I came across the Aspen Education Group. On their website it says and I quote, “Therapists who work with troubled teens often talk about their sense of entitlement as a major hurdle in the struggle to help them. Teens feel entitled to their life-styles, no matter how self-destructive. If a parent reared her child with the attitude “I don’t want to interrupt his happiness for even one moment,” the teen will have a hard time establishing the discipline and willpower necessary to work through addictions and behaviors such as alcoholism, substance abuse, promiscuous sex, mismanagement of anger, compulsive shopping, and so forth. “You have to be willing to have your kids not like you,” Dr. Jennings said. “Today’s parents aren’t willing to do that.”