Summary: This Valentine's Day sermon was written in response to the book and film 50 Shades of Grey. I titled this sermon God’s Not Grey because His love is written in black and white. Expository, three-point alliterated outline. PowerPoint available.
God’s Not Grey
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/15/2015
If yesterday was like Valentine's Days of the past, over $1 billion was spent on chocolate, 180 million cards were exchanged, and 196 million roses were sold! Unless you’re Charlie Brown, you’ve probably given and received some special valentines in your life. You’ve probably had some things wrapped in red foil or a heart-shaped box. Or maybe you’ve stood at a florist’s counter trying to decide on a “just right” arrangement of roses. Even a Snickers looks better if it’s got a red ribbon around it. Valentine’s Day offers us the opportunity to say “I love you” in elegant, ornamental ways.
Sadly, this Valentine’s Day also marked a new low in our cultural comprehension of love. By now you’ve heard of the book or the movie, 50 Shades of Grey. There is no denying that the books and movie are having a huge impact on our culture. Book sales passed $100 million in November. One of the fastest selling series of all times, it passed The Da Vinci Code and is swiftly catching up to books series like Harry Potter and Twilight. The movie opened yesterday to sold-out audiences. But it’s not really a Valentine’s Day movie. It’s not simply a love story. It’s not sweet or romantic. The story centers on a complex and creepy sexual relationship. Its messages are disturbing and even degrading, especially to women.
As a pastor my gut reaction to books or movies like this is to ignore it and hope it goes away. But I think that this phenomenon points to a deeper problem with our culture. When I watch TV, browse the internet, or scan magazines in the checkout lanes, it’s clear that our world has embraced a distorted view of love. Some of us are as confused about love as little five-year-old Kari who told her teacher, “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
Let’s be honest, relationships aren’t easy. My wife and I muddle our way through marriage half the time. This week I read of a husband and wife having an argument. At one point, out of sheer frustration, the husband blurted out, “Honey, I don’t know why God made you so beautiful...and, yet, so stupid, at the same time!” After a moment of painful silence, the wife finally responded, “I’ll you why. God made me BEAUTIFUL so you would love me. And God made me STUPID so I would love you!”
When it comes to love, all of us could use a little help.
The popularity of 50 Shades of Grey actually sets up the church with an opportunity to engage the culture; an opportunity to step into the grey and share God’s message of love with a lost and confused world. I titled today’s sermon God’s Not Grey because His love is written in black and white.
You see, when it came to expressing God’s love, FTD was not fragrant enough, chocolate was not sweet enough, and Hallmark couldn’t find the words. Rather, God’s Valentine to us is found in Scripture—1 Corinthians 13. Some of the most profound words ever scrawled about love are inscribed in this chapter of the Bible. I’m convinced that the words of this chapter can help us define and develop a love truly worth having and giving at Valentine’s Day and every day.
First, God’s Valentine speaks of the priority of love.
• THE PRIORITY OF LOVE
Love is important. The apostle Paul begins this beloved chapter of the Bible, saying, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 NLT).
In other words, without love, nothing else matters. A life without love is like a rainbow without colors or a sunset with no sun. As Leonardo Da Vinci put it, “A life without love, is no life at all.” I think Jesus would have agreed with Da Vinci.
Jesus was all about love. He commands his followers to love each other, to love our neighbors, and even to love our enemies. In fact, when asked which of God’s commands was the most important, Jesus answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT). More than anything else, Jesus urges us to love God and love people. These two commands summarize all of Scripture. They course through the Bible like a heartbeat.