Summary: I think we all realize that we are “supposed” to love another, and that we “should” be united, but what we are “supposed” to do or “should” do are not the same things as what we actually do.
Introduction: Today we are beginning a series of messages on the importance of love and unity in the Church. The catch phrase which we put out on the marquee this week is: We Fly United and We Love It!
We are going to use similar themes each week to challenge us as a church to examine our relationships with Christ and our relationships with one another. There is not point talking about building relationships with those outside the church if we aren’t committed to building healthy relationships within the church.
I think we all realize that we “supposed” to love another, and that we “should” be united, but what we are “supposed” to do or “should” do are not the same things as what we actually do. Now I have only been here a month, but I’m perceptive enough to know that First Baptist Church struggles with these issues just like most churches do. What I hope is that we can find a common ground on which to begin building a foundation for the future that God has for His church.
Text: Colossians 3:12-14
Paul referred to his readers as “God’s chosen ones, holy and loved.” That is “who” we are “in Christ.” God doesn’t choose based on looks, or talent, or bank statements, God chooses in love. It is because of who “HE” is that we have the possibility of being “holy” and living lives that will honor and glorify Him.
Over the next few weeks we are going to be looking at this passage of scripture and examining how we as believers can be let God’s love unite us to glorify Him and minister to others. We are actually going to start with the last verse in this paragraph and then come back and look at each of the other verses. Why would we start at the end first? Because Paul said, “Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” Paul said that “love” was above all—if through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul identified “love” as the key to “unity” then that is where we need to start.
Here is a “key truth” that will guide us in our study:
Love and Unity go “hand-in-hand” without Love there will be no Unity.
What is Love?
1. Love is A SACRIFICE
Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 HCSB)
Propitiation is not a word we use on a regular basis so we need to know what it means. Basically it means “to appease” or “to satisfy.” Because we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory…and because God is Holy and cannot abide in sin…we need someone to pay the debt that our sin has incurred. We need someone to appease and satisfy our Holy Heavenly Father who we have sinned against. There is only One who can do that—His Son, Jesus Christ.
The New Living Translation helps us see this by stating this verse this way:
God…sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:10 NLT)
God proves His love by His action on our behalf. But it wasn’t just that God sent His Son…Jesus coming wasn’t enough. He had to stand in our place, He had to become the sacrifice for us.
But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8 HCSB)
God has made the ultimate sacrifice for us, that is not in question. What is in question is what sacrifice have we made? Paul said in Romans 12:1 that we are to present ourselves to the Lord as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him.” How do we do that? One way we do is through loving like He loves. Going back to 1 John 4 we find these words:
Dear friends, if God loved us in this way (through the sacrifice of His Son for our sins), we also must love one another (1 John 4:11 HCSB)
That takes us to second thought about what love is…
2. Love is a COMMAND
I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. (John 13:34 HCSB)
Sometimes I think we are guilty of seeing love as an “option” instead of a command. Jesus never said, “If you want to love….” He “commanded” that we love!
It’s been a long time since I was in the military, but since Blake Jr. joined the Marines there have been many times where I have been reminded about “taking orders”—being “commanded” to do something.
I can still remember an event that happened while I was in boot camp that taught me about following orders. I was walking to the shower one evening and as I passed the office where my drill instructor was he called out, “Inscore drop and give me 50!” I put down my stuff and proceeded to do 50 pushups. When I finished, while still in pushup position I asked, “Permission to take a shower sir?” I can’t quote you his exact reply, but the church equivalent would be something like, “Get your dirty body off my floor sailor.”