Summary: Our ultimate goal in life is to glorify God. One way in which we glorify God is by loving other believers. This sermon explores different levels of relationship, three that are inadequate, and one that demonstrates that we belong to God’s family.
One November day in 2002, Jim Sulkers, a 53-year-old retired municipal worker from Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada), climbed into bed, pulled the covers up, and died.
Nearly two years later, on August 25, 2004, police who had been called by concerned relatives entered Jim Sulkers’ apartment and found his body in a mummified state. Everything else in his tidy one-bedroom apartment was intact, although the food in his fridge was spoiled and his wall calendar was two years out of date.
Mr. Sulkers’ death went undiscovered for several reasons: he was reclusive, estranged from family members, and had a medical condition that prevented his body from decomposing and emitting odors. In addition, automatic banking deposited his disability pension and withdrew utilities and other expenses as they came due, and so people thought that he was alive when in fact he was dead.
Terence Moran, who co-founded the Media Ecology program at New York University, said, “For many practical purposes, this man was virtually alive throughout that time. This man’s life was extended for two years by the technology he used. Neil Postman would say that what you have here is a lack of community.”
The fact is that you and I have been created by God to live in community. It is a profound tragedy when someone dies and no one notices for two years!
We live in a world in which people are lonely and disconnected. Moreover, so many people value the wrong things.
Some years ago a survey reported that in fifteen years of asking high school students in America whether they would save their dog or a stranger first in an emergency situation, most students answered that they would save their dog and not the stranger.
“I love my dog; I don’t love the stranger,” they always say.
People do what makes them feel good, not what is right.
But the good news of the Gospel is that we were formed for God’s family. When God transformed us by his grace he made us part of his family. One of the ways we know we are part of God’s family is the love we have for one another.
Our text for today is found in 1 John 3:11-24:
"11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
"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. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.