Summary: You cannot love God and hate your neighbour
Theme: Do you love me?
Text: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Rev. 5:11-14; Jn. 21:1-19
Read John 21:15-17 “After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?’ ‘Yes,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I am your friend.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon, do you really love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord’ Peter said, ‘you know I am your friend.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. Once more he asked him ‘Simon, son of John, are you even my friend?’ Peter was grieved at the way Jesus asked the question this third time. ‘Lord, you know my heart; you know I am,’ he said. Jesus said, ‘then feed my little sheep.’”
Love is a word that is very often used today without understanding its real meaning. It is a very important word because it describes the very being and nature of God. We all know from the Scriptures that ‘God is love’ but find it difficult to see love as a very important part of the Christian life. Love is actually the test of our fellowship with God. If we are united to God through faith in Christ, we share His nature and since His nature is love, love becomes the test of the reality of our spiritual life. A navigator depends on a compass to help him determine his course. A compass shows him his directions because it always points north. This is possible because a compass is so constituted that it responds to the magnetic field that is part of the earth’s makeup. Just as a compass is responsive to the nature of the earth so the Christian is responsive to the nature of God and just as a compass naturally points north so a believer will naturally practice love because love is the nature of God. Love is visible and can be very easily seen in the way we behave. When Mother Theresa was alive a reporter writing an article on her life watched her as she cleaned up a neglected outcast in the slums of India with her bare hands. After watching her for some time he remarked in disbelief “I would never do that even for a million dollars”. “Neither would I,” replied Mother Theresa. She was performing a duty out of love and not for money. She was saying yes to Christ’s question “do you love me?”
The world has come to accept different kinds of love, which depends on the people involved, and the different situations they find themselves in. Simply put there is love on the human level and there is love on the divine level. The Greeks used three different words to describe love. They used the word Philos when referring to a friendship – a strong feeling of affection and concern for a person. They used the word Eros when referring to an emotional, romantic feeling toward a member of the opposite sex. They used the word agape when referring to the love of God. This love refers to a love that is not deserved, a love that freely gives and expects nothing in return. This love should be the distinguishing mark of every believer. God’s nature is to love and to know what true love is we must look to God. You cannot truly love without knowing God because God only places this capacity of divine love in those who belong to Him. The world has known many people who are said to be great lovers, but, without doubt, the greatest lover of all is God Himself. Human love cannot be compared to divine love. Human love is variable and subject to wear as the gifts we use to express it - chocolates and cards, flowers and jewellery whereas Divine love, God’s love, is unchanging, unchangeable and everlasting. Divine love is expressed through sacrificial giving and this was demonstrated when God gave us everything He had – when He gave Himself. Man has been made in God’s image, after his likeness and so logically man too is love. But now because of sin we love the wrong things, for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives, and in the wrong ways. Sin itself is a matter of love gone wrong. Envy is the love of the wrong things. Jealousy and lust is love with the wrong motive and in the wrong way. Pride is a love of self, which excludes consideration for the true worth of others including God. Our human love has become so distorted, petty and self centred that it can no longer be compared to the love of God in any way. God is so much bigger and greater than we can imagine in our sinful state and this is true of His love as well. God is the source of our love and Jesus our example. Let us be Christ like and demonstrate His love in the way we live by reaching out to those in need. There are many people around us who need our love. There are the outcasts, the street children, and the prisoners. There are many people in our midst, even here in Church who need our love. Let our fellowship be meaningful and be dictated by love.