Summary: If we are so sinful, how could God love us? What kind of love would allow him to love us?
Central Church of Christ
February 4, 2000
HOW COULD GOD LOVE US?
Today we begin a series on love from the book of 1 John. John had a fiery and destructive temperament! He wanted to call down fire from heaven on some of Jesus’ enemies! Jesus called him a ‘son of thunder’! Through his association with Jesus, his disposition was so changed that we know him as the “apostle of love”. One of John’s favorite admonitions was “My little children, love one another.”
Wouldn’t we all love to experience the transforming power that was experienced by John! No doubt many of us think that this cannot be for us. We have been too sinful, or we have too much ‘history’, too many regrets, too many mistakes. We have been such a way for so long that God could not possibly change our hearts. Things go wrong so often in our lives that God must not be paying attention to us. We develop doubt of God’s love that has left us feeling not very hopeful – yet we hang on Him by a thread. Today I want to begin our series by asking, “How Could God Love Us?” – and I want to ask that question in two different senses.
I. HOW COULD GOD LOVE US – As Sinful As We Are?
A. Surely no one here would claim to be sinless! 1 John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." 1 John 3:4 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.“ There are some basic facts about sin that we must accept:
*Every accountable person sins.
*Every sin is observed by the Father.
*Every sin is an object of separation between us / God.
*Sin is the problem of every human being on earth!
That being true, how could God really love us?
B. God’s aim is to purify us of our sins! 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 2:1 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.“ The good news of the Gospel is that God has made provision for us, out of his mercy, to find a way to forgive / cleanse / purify us from sin – all sin.
C. God can love us because He can forgive us of our sins. And not just once…but a continual cleansing. Wouldn’t one grow weary of having to forgive so much? What kind of love does God have that He can do this?
II. HOW COULD GOD LOVE US – what kind of love would allow it?
A. We use that word ‘love’ so loosely. We talk about loving parents, spouses, children, strawberry pie, football, certain movies. We all know that we do not mean the same thing by those expressions. (No man would say he loves football as much as he loves his wife…would he?)
B. The Greeks, however, did not put all the “flavors of love into one word only.” (McCord) They had precise words. Let’s look at four of them.
*Eros. This is the word for love that relates to the satisfaction of sexual experiences. Greek mythology designated the god of sex as Eros. This is the same god known by the Romans as Cupid. Sexual love is ordained by God for marriage, and outside of marriage is called fornication / adultery.
*Storge. The affection one has for kinfolks, for blood relations. This love is also God-ordained.
*Philia. One’s feelings toward close friends outside his family. Philanthropy – love of mankind. Philadelphia – city of brotherly love. This kind of love is exhibited by the friendship of David and Jonathan. This kind of love existed between Jesus and Lazarus (John 11:3, 36).
*Agape. This word comes from a word that means to admire. In the New Testament usage, however, it extends far beyond admiration. Agape is extended to those we do not admire. It is the kind of love that would allow us to be kind to those who hurt us. (Mat 5:43-48). God’s agape extends to the unadmired, to the ugly and repulsive, to sinners and enemies (Romans 5:8-10). A man without agape could naver have been the ‘good Samaritan’ (Luke 10:25-37), for what he saw by the roadside was a foreigner, stripped, beaten, bloody. Agape is unconditional, non-discriminatory, internal, invisible, volitional, in spite of. Agape love is . . . profound concern for the well-being of another, without any desire to control that other, to be thanked by that other, or to enjoy the process. (Madeleine L’Engle) The kind of love which God has for us sinners. It is the only kind of love that would let him love us like he does.