Sermons

Summary: Like my glasses, Love focuses in different ways, varying in both intensity and style.

Love In Focus

(topical)

NOTE: When preached, I only got through half of this in 30 minutes, so I am doing part two (with some expansions) this week.

1. Affectionate Writing Can Reduce Cholesterol

According to new research, writing down affectionate thoughts about close friends and family can reduce your cholesterol levels. Floyd et al. (2007) randomly assigned participants to one of two groups: one experimental and one control. The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for 20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and places they had lived.

The results from two separate studies demonstrated that after only 25 days, the experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant reduction in cholesterol. These reductions were seen independently from the effects of general health factors like age, drinking, smoking and so on. Mean cholesterol levels reduced from 170 mg/dL to 159 mg/dL (figures are from the second study which was methodologically more secure). [source: www.spring.org.uk/2007/03/affectionate-writing-can-reduce.php]

2. Recent studies in psychology suggest that the pursuit of self-interest may not be the

clearest path to the greater good or personal happiness, as so widely assumed. When

researchers study what makes us happy, they find that it is not personal wealth, the

strength of the stock market, inflation, or interest rates that cause the ebb and flow in our

personal well-being. What makes us happy, what matters in the end, is the quality of our

romantic and family bonds, our connection to our friends, and doing things for others.

[source: www.altruists.org/static/files/The%20Evolution%20of%20Compassion%20%28Dacher%20Keltner%29.pdf]

3. But romantic love is just one strand of the broad set of feelings, choices, commitments and attachments we call love.

4. People do all sorts of gymnastics with the word "agape" and confidently assert that the Greek word Agape refers only to sacrificial, deep love whereas the Greek word Phileo refers to a lesser love -- but agape can mean anything from niceness or liking all the way to deep love, just like our English word. You can prove this to yourself if you have a good concordance. And sometimes the intensity of Phileo can be stronger than agape in certain contexts. So stick with English. The Greek isn’t going to help you much.

5. Perhaps a general definition of love might be Thomas Jay Ord’s:

"to love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promote overall well-being." [source: Wikipedia]

6. This week, I got a new set of glasses. They are bifocals without a line -- for all practical purposes, trifocals. I have to move my eyes or head up or down or left or right because the peripheral vision is blurry.

7. So it is when we talk about love: there are so many angles, so many different types of love, so many relational and emotional complexities to it all.

Main Idea: Like my glasses, Love focuses in different ways, varying in both intensity and style.

TS----> We could not possibly look at all the kinds of love or aspects of love in a single sermon. But here is a survey of some of the focuses of love.

The first focus is:

I. UPWARD Love

A. The love of God for us is the love of redemption. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.") God Himself becomes a man to die for our sins. We might call this the love that sacrifices oneself for another, the love that gives of oneself, or SACRIFICIAL LOVE.

"By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him." (I John 4:9)

B. Our love for God is a love in RESPONSE to His love

"We love, because He first loved us." I John 4:19

Unrequited love is when you love someone and they do not share those same feelings. God frequently experiences unrequited love.

1. Love was the highest motivation, even among the Jews. We read in the Talmud:

"What difference is there between one who acts from love and one who acts from fear? — The difference is that indicated in this teaching: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: Greater is he who acts from love than he who acts from fear…" Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sotah Folio 31a

2. Two truths about this Upward love that bear on daily life:

• A lot of our sinful ways are caused because we are searching for meaning, security, attention, and love that only God can give us; other things or people cannot fully meet this need…

• Certain truths about God’s love cannot really impact us until we are ready; that’s why Paul writes about a mystical level of experiencing God’s love that cannot be reduced to words, "and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" Paul prays for the Ephesians

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