Summary: Teaches us how to truly love one another.
September 2, 2012
“So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
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. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
Every Christian, I suppose, knows that love is what makes our religion different from the other world religions. The best known and most loved Scripture in the Bible is John 3:16.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
God loved! The Scripture says that God IS love. The epitome of God; the essence of God – is love. Buddha, his followers think, is wise. Islam has their five pillars of faith and believes there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger. If you are not a believer in Allah you are an infidel and an enemy. Confucius, Hinduism, and all the other world religions have no God of love; no God that died for them. But Christians worship a God of love; who IS love; and loves us so much He died for us.
Our King and Savior left us with really only one command.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 (LB)
So the “proof of the puddin’” is the way we love one another. The ‘test’ of our spirituality is by the way we love. The walk of the talk is by the way we treat others. And yet I am convinced that so many Christians don’t really know HOW to love. The world has taught us a selfish, weak, mushy thing we call love - but it really isn’t. Either we don’t have a true understanding of love or we really aren’t Jesus’ disciples – because Jesus said “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
I think it is the former – we don’t have a biblical understanding of love. Someone sang, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love” - and it does. But what IS love? This morning I want us to examine, once again, this old concept; this old truth; this old command – to love. But before I do that, let me establish once again, that this IS a command. It is not an option. We are commanded to love.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other...”
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”