Summary: Preached May 2nd, 2010 for the 5th Sunday of Easter at St. Paul's, Big Cove Tannery, St. Paul, McConnellsburg, and Mt. Zion, Little Cove. It talks about the difference between the world's definition of love and God's definition of love through Jesus Chri
There’s a lot of talk in our world today about the topics of love. You’ll even hear those words used quite a bit by a lot of preachers in a lot of different churches. In fact, Jesus Himself in today’s Gospel reading gives us a commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.” On the surface, it seems simple. Yet, at the same time, this is one passage that, when misunderstood, can lead to all kinds of problems. So this morning, let’s get into our text to understand the topics of love and glory, according to Jesus Christ.
Jesus is telling His disciples, and you and me today, in our Gospel reading “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Just in those two verses alone, Jesus uses the word “love” 4 times. It’s a short word, 4 letters long, it’s a word that many of us use on a daily basis. It sounds simple: “love others as I have loved you.” And yet, that phrase has been abused quite frequently.
That’s because when we hear that word “love”, we start to think of love in worldly terms. Think about what our world today considers “love”. For starters, love is a pretty vague word, isn’t it? It can cover so many types of relationships. We often use it to describe our feelings toward our spouses, our children, our friends, our church, our community, or even our favorite foods. You have to listen to the context to understand what kind of “love” is being talked about. For example, most people are going to understand that your love for your spouse is going to be a different kind of love than you have for your favorite food (at least I hope that’s the case.) But not only that, but your love for your spouse is probably going to differ from the love you have for your children, or your parents, or your friends.
The other thing we have to remember about love when it comes to our relationships with other people is that the world has it’s own idea of what is and is not considered “loving.” If you want the world’s definition of love, listen to a lot of the so called popular music today. There’s a lot being said about love in a lot of those songs. In fact, several years ago, Tina Turner even had a hit song that asked the question “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Movies and television have something to say about love, too, along with those paperback romance novels and all kinds of books and other media. And what are all of those things saying about love? Our world is defining love as being a self serving kind of love. “Love is true when it suits you would probably be a nice catchy ad slogan.” Our world looks at love as satisfying one’s own needs and desires through having someone else serve them and give them some sort of emotional “high” if you will. And it’s great for a while. You feel great, everything seems to smell like roses, nothing can ever seem to go wrong. That’s what all of that stuff out in the world tells us about love. How many movies or books end with the couple madly in love with each other riding off into the sunset to “live happily ever after” without having to endure any hardships or problems later on that will test their so called “love” for each other? So with this definition of love, what happens when that person you claim to “love” no longer suits your needs, or you find someone else who you think might be a better “fit” and you think you love that person instead? Or what happens when you lose that ecstatic ‘spark” and things go back to normal? Why you can just put that other love aside, because if it’s not suiting your needs or wants anymore or that person needs more of your time and energy, then you can just exchange that love for something that suits your passions better.
Love according to the world is also used as leverage to try to get what we want out of other people. How many times have we heard the phrase “If you really love me, you’ll do this.” It’s a very conditional type of love. And what happens when our conditions aren’t being met? The world encourages us to just terminate that “love” and move on to someone else. It’s a kind of love that leaves a lot of hurt, broken people in its path.
Now if that’s the kind of love that Jesus is telling us to have for one another, we’re going to have a pretty serious problem on our hands, aren’t we?