Summary: God of Wonders, Pt. 6
GOD IS LOVE (JOHN 3:16)
What is love? It’s been said:
“Money can build a charming house BUT
Love can furnish it with the feeling of home.
Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch BUT
Love would decide to tuck a little love note inside.
Money can buy a television set BUT
Love controls how much it is watched, and what is watched.
Obligation sends a child to bed on time BUT
Love tucks the covers in just right and passes out kisses and hugs.
Obligation can cook a meal BUT
Love embellishes the table with a potted ivy trailing around slender candles.
Duty writes letters to a child at camp BUT
Love tucks a joke or a picture or a fresh stick of gum inside.
Compulsion keeps a sparkling house BUT
Love and prayer produce a happy family.
Duty is easily offended if it isn’t appreciated BUT
Love learns to laugh and to work for the sheer joy of doing, giving and contributing.
Obligation can pour a glass of milk BUT
Love adds a little chocolate to it.”
Christianity is unique and distinct from all the religions of the world for its teaching and emphasis on love. The Greatest Commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second greatest is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31) and the new commandment Jesus ushered in is for us to “love one another” (John 13:34-35). As you can see, the narcissistic theme of loving oneself is far from the ideal and alien to the gospel.
John 3:16 is the world’s best known Bible verse and the most memorized verse. It is popular on T-shirts and bumper stickers and at ball games. When pitchers, free-throw shooters are about to release the ball a guy with this verse could well be in the stands. Every preacher has to preach it one time in life; but single verse sermons are the hardest to preach!
What are the characteristics of “agape” love? Why is love the greatest virtue of all? How did God risk His all for love?
Love is Active in Stride
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
One of my favorite Broadway musicals is “The Fiddler on the Roof.” In the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” Teyve the Jewish milkman discovered his daughters had arranged their own weddings, marrying against their wishes, one to a jailed revolutionary husband and another to a poor tailor.
Teyve grappled with the new world of love by asking his wife Golde three times: “Do you love me?” Golde sneered: “Do I love you? For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes Cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”
Tevye responded: “Golde, The first time I met you was on our wedding day.
I was scared.” To which Golde admitted: “I was shy”
Tevye said, “I was nervous.” Golde concurred: “So was I.”
Tevye disclosed: “But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other.
And now I’m asking, Golde, ‘Do you love me?’” Golde shouted: “I’m your wife.”
Tevye whispered: “I know...but do you love me?” Golde questioned: “Do I love him? For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him, fought him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?”
Tevye roared: “Then you love me?” Golde snapped: “I suppose I do.”
Tevye acknowledged: “And I suppose I love you too.” They concluded: “It doesn’t change a thing but even so. After twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.”
The Greeks distinguished between philos, which is personal liking, relational and emotional in nature; eros, which is physical affection, sexual and passionate in kind; and agape – perfect love, which is unconditional and unchanging, the word for God’s love.
John is the gospel of agape love. The verb “love” occurs five times in Mark, eight times in Matthew, 13 times in Luke but an incredible 37 times in John - three times more than Luke, seven times more than Mark, and more than the Synoptics combined.
The noun for “love” makes for greater contrast and drama in the gospels. It is not found in Mark, found only once in both Matthew (24:12) and Luke (11:42) but seven times in John (5:42, 13:35, 15:9, 15:10, 15:10, 15:13, 17:26).