Summary: The extravagance of love often has a demanding yet exhilarating cost.
Sermon Objective: The extravagance of love often has a demanding yet exhilarating cost.
It was a quiet December evening on Ward C43, the oncology unit at Georgetown University. Many of the rooms around the central nurse’s station were dark and empty, but in Room 11 a man lay critically ill.
The patient was Jack Swigert, the man who had piloted the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970 and was now Congressman-elect from Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Cancer, the great leveler, now waged its deadly assault in his body.
With the dying man was a tall, quiet visitor, sitting in the spot he had occupied almost every night since Swigert had been admitted. Though Bill Armstrong, U.S. Senator from Colorado and chairman of the senate subcommittee handling Washington’s hottest issue, social security, was one of the busiest and most powerful men in Washington, he was not visiting this room night after night as a powerful politician. He was here as a deeply committed Christian and as Jack Swigert’s friend, fulfilling a responsibility he would not delegate or shirk, much as he disliked hospitals.
This night Bill leaned over the bed and spoke quietly to his friend. “Jack, you’re going to be alright. God loves you. I love you. You’re surrounded by friends who are praying for you. You’re going to be alright.” The only response was Jack’s tortured and uneven breathing.
Bill pulled his chair closer to the bed and opened his bible. “Psalm 23,” he began to read in a steady voice. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….”
Time passed. “Psalm 150,” Bill began, then his skin prickled. Jack’s ragged breathing had stopped. He leaned down over the bed, then called for help. As he watched the nurse examining Jack, Bill knew there was nothing more he could do. His friend was dead.
Politicians are busy people, especially Senate committee chairmen. Yet it never occurred to Bill Armstrong that he was too busy to be at the hospital. Nothing dramatic or heroic about his decision – just a Christian friend doing what he could.
(Borrowed from Charles Colson’s wonderful book. “Loving God”)
Listen to this story about another “Christian” friend:
3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? 5IT COULD HAVE BEEN SOLD FOR MORE THAN A YEAR’S WAGES AND THE MONEY GIVEN TO THE POOR." And they rebuked her harshly.
6"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
The lady with the alabaster jar of perfume and Bill Armstrong had something in common. They loved God. Pure, simple, and genuine love for God.
We can discover some general but usable principles about loving God from them too.
SOMETIMES LOVING GOD LOOKS A WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT THAN YOU IMAGINED IT WOULD
The Bible says: “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
God is very creative at meeting human need and will indeed ask things of you that you find “strange.”
What does your “alabaster jar of perfume” look like?
> A youth discovers the meaning of the word vanity and changes the way she dresses, carries herself, and wears make-up ... out of love for God
>A child pledges his allowance to missions for a year because he wishes for others to hear the Gospel ... out of love for God
> A college student foregoes the pleasure of sleeping in on Saturday mornings in order to help out at the local compassionate ministry center where she tutors a group of struggling Middle School kids in math… out of love for God
>A man says no to a new car or sells his "stuff" so he can feed some starving children or help a hurting a neighbor … out of love for God
> A woman takes time from her demanding schedule to help an aging widow ... out of love for God