Summary: To really live is to love God, others and ourselves.
“Living with Love in Our Hearts”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN
What is “it”?
In any language, “it” is the most powerful expression of the most powerful emotion and experience in the world.
“It” is what everyone is looking for.
“It” is something everyone is starving for.
“It” is something many people have not yet experienced in this often dark and cruel world.
“It” is why Jesus came and died.
“It” is why there is a Christian Church and why Christianity has been spreading for the past 2,000 years!
“It,” of course, is “Love.”
An old song says: “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”
And if that is true…then everybody is somebody because God loves us all!!!
But, as I said, not everyone knows about the love of God.
I was speaking with a colleague this past week who has been ministering to a teenager who has all the talent and potential in the world, but keeps doing things to harm herself…
…due to a self-loathing.
Recently she tried to commit suicide.
My colleague told me that he went to have a heart to heart talk with her a few days later.
She is a young person who has never experienced unconditional love.
She has been abused and used all her life.
During their conversation, my colleague stood up, went into another room where a Cross was hanging, took that Cross off the wall and brought it over to the teenager.
“Look at this!” he told her.
“This is how much you are loved!
This is how deeply you are loved!
This is how important your life is!”
I think we all need to take a good look at the Cross…every day…and tell ourselves this very same thing!
“This proves your self-worth.
This is how much God loves you and everyone else!
Now, go about your day believing it, and ask God to help you in your unbelief!”
The love of God is what changes us.
The love of God is what gives us a hope and a future.
The love of God is what gives us self-worth.
The love of God is what allows us to love others!
Karl Menninger once said, “Love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”
Jesus opened our eyes to the true nature of love in Matthew Chapter 22: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I was having a conversation with someone last week, and we agreed that the things we dislike in others are often the very same things we don’t like about ourselves.
Hatred of others comes from self-loathing.
Just think of all the destruction, violence and pain we inflict on others simply because we don’t like ourselves!
We must learn to love God and ourselves…
…and we do this by fully accepting the unconditional love God has for us!
Only then can we love others as well.
The Bible tells us that “God is love” and that “we love because God first loved us.”
Have we experienced the love of God?
In experiencing God’s love…
…we really do begin a love relationship with God and the rest of humanity.
If we love God the most, we will love others the best.
C.S. Lewis once said, “When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”
Jesus calls us to love our neighbor.
C.W. Vanderbergh once wrote: “To love the whole world for me is no chore. My only real problem is my neighbor next door.”
I remember, as a kid, we had a neighbor across the street who would not—for some reason—give us the time of day.
That didn’t stop my parents from cheerfully saying: “Hi!” every time our neighbor was in his yard.
One day I asked my parents, “Why do you all bother to say ‘hi’ to that guy? He never even looks your way.”
My parent’s answer was very matter of fact…
…there were no explanations or complaints…
…just a hint of surprise at my question: “Because we are Christians.”
That stuck with me.
That impressed me.
Because we are Christians.
That’s what it’s all about is it not?...
…Christianity, that is…
…it’s about love.
If it ever becomes about anything other than love, we can know we have gotten off track.
We have wandered.
We have taken our eyes off Jesus…the Author and Perfector of our faith!
Paul writes in our Epistle Lesson for this morning, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would be only a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.