Summary: Here is the perfect picture of what love is.
INTRO: On the morning of Sunday, November 8, 1987, Irishman Gordon Wilson took his daughter Marie to a parade in the town of Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
As Wilson and his twenty-year-old daughter stood beside a brick wall waiting for English soldiers and police to come marching by, a bomb planted by IRA terrorists exploded from behind, and the brick wall tumbled on them. The blast instantly killed half a dozen people and pinned Gordon and his daughter beneath several feet of bricks. Gordon’s shoulder and arm were injured. Unable to move, Gordon felt someone take hold of his hand. It was his daughter Marie.
"Is that you, Dad?" she asked.
"Yes, Marie," Gordon answered.
He heard several people begin screaming.
"Are you alright?" Gordon asked his daughter.
"Yes," she said. But then she, too, began to scream. As he held her hand, again and again he asked if she was alright, and each time she said yes.
Finally Marie said, "Daddy, I love you very much."
Those were her last words. Four hours later she died in the hospital of severe spinal and brain injuries.
Later that evening a BBC reporter requested permission to interview Gordon Wilson. After Wilson described what had happened, the reporter asked, "How do you feel about the guys who planted the bomb?"
"I bear them no ill will," Wilson replied. "I bear them no grudge. Bitter talk is not going to
bring Marie Wilson back to life. I shall pray tonight and every night that God will forgive them."
In the months that followed, many people asked Wilson, who later became a senator in the Republic of Ireland, how he could say such a thing, how he could forgive such a monstrous act.
Wilson explained, "I was hurt. I had just lost my daughter. But I wasn’t angry. Marie’s last words to me—words of love—had put me on a plane of love. I received God’s grace, through the strength of his love for me, to forgive."
For years after this tragedy, Gordon Wilson continued to work for peace in Northern Ireland.
Love can do miracles. Just as Marie Wilson’s last words to her father lifted him onto the plane of love, so God’s love for us lifts us onto a whole different plane, enabling us to love others no matter how they treat us.
TITLE: How to Have Unlimited Love
TEXT: John 3:16a
I. The proper way. Here is the perfect picture of what love is.
A. God loved the world so much. You might be asking, "How much?"
1. So much that he gave his Son. He gave what was valuable to him so we could have eternal life, a heavenly home.
-Just as the children of Israel who were bitten by snakes. God told Moses to make a snake and put it on a pole so when the people looked at it they could be healed.
2. Much as the serpent was lifted up on that pole, so the Son of God would be lifted up on a cross.
Why? To save us from sin and death. In the camp of Israel, the solution to the serpent problem was not by:
-killing the serpents,
-pretending they were not there, -passing anti-serpent laws,
-or climbing the pole.
Truth: The answer was in looking by faith at the uplifted serpent. Just as the whole world has been bitten by sin and Jesus was lifted up on a cross for all to see, and those who look in faith in him shall be saved.
B. He gave. Let’s talk a bit about this—he gave.
1. The tremendous thing about this text is that it shows God acting not for his own sake, but for ours, not to satisfy his desire for power, not to bring a universe to heel, but because of his love.
2. Many times when I read the scriptures I marvel at the love that Jesus showed to others—this agape love, this unconditional love that overcomes any barrier that’s put in its way.
3. Question: As a Christian the thought comes, "How do I get more of God’s love?" Truth: Our Heavenly Father is showing us here right in the text, right before our eyes. He gave.
II. Giving is one of the most difficult things to do. I personally believe that giving money is far easier than giving love because love has to come from an open heart. There’s no way to make it a cold business transaction.
A. Many misunderstand what love is. Tommy Barnett writes is his book Hidden Power, "We think love is something that we can receive and possess, like a gift or something owed but that is not what love is. Love is something you can only give, not something you possess. None of us owns love – we use love."