Summary: In many sectors of our society “tolerance” is equated with “love.” But is that a biblical concept? God is love; but was He tolerant of Sodom’s sin? Perhaps current assumptions about what love is should be examined in the light of biblical revelation.
I take as my theme these words from Song of Solomon 8:7 “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it….”
On November 5, 1982 a precious gift from God was laid in my arms. Jeanie and I named her Kathy Jean because Kathy means “pure” and Jean means “God’s gracious gift.” That’s exactly what Katie was to us. She was our baby girl, full of life and vitality.
Her picture on the screen is one of my favorites. Of course, all of her childhood, Jeanie and I were pastors. Sometimes after a service, she would gather the kids in front of the pulpit and preach her own sermon to them. After Bible College she went to Uganda as a missionary. I did not know that she would be thrown in a distant village by herself. I did not know that she would be contending with the local witchdoctor. I did not know that she would return from Uganda with a lot of pain. I just knew how glad we were to have her back.
Today Katie lives an ungodly lifestyle. She is a regular at church. It’s a church that tells her all is fine. It’s a church that prides itself on accepting people’s lifestyles and being non-judgmental. It’s a church where love is pretty much equated with tolerance. It’s a church where people are made as comfortable as possible in their sin.
But I don’t want my baby girl comfortable in her sin. I want her delivered from her sin. I want her free from the destructive power of sin. “Therefore if the Son makes you, free, you shall be free indeed.” God’s salvation is not an abstract doctrine. It doesn’t leave us in the mire of iniquity and simply say, “That’s ok; I understand.” God’s grace is something much more powerful than just a pass on the penalty of sin. It is the power of God unto salvation! In Matt. 1:21 an angel told Joseph, “…you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." Don’t miss the exact nature of Jesus’ mission: “…He will save His people from their sins"—not in their sins—not just from the penalty of their sins—but the salvation Jesus brings is to deliver us from our sins. Rom 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Biblical grace does not leave us under the dominion of sin; it liberates us and empowers us.
I would gladly lay down my life this morning to see Katie totally right with God, fulfilling God’s call on her life. There is nothing that would ever make me stop loving my Katie.
Sometimes we get a little taste of God’s love through a wayward child. Sometimes we learn how strong, unwavering, and unquenchable our Father’s love is. “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it….”
Nobody has to tell me to be pray for Katie. I can’t help but pray for someone I love like that. I pray for her during a red light; I pray for her during the night; sometimes it’s all I can do to not break out into tears over her. If you see me gazing out into the air, my heart is probably occupied. I am probably begging God to deliver her. Love turns duty into a lifestyle. Paul said, “The love of Christ constrains us….” As long as Christianity is just a list of duties, we have not yet touched the heart of the matter. Love compels us to in behalf of others.
I want to talk with you about God’s love toward us and then through us.
God’s love toward us is clearly demonstrated in Christ.
What caused the Son of God to step out of heaven into this sin-sick world? Why would the eternal God leave all the comforts and joys of heaven and come into the mess we have here on planet earth? There is only one adequate answer: Love.
During WWI two soldiers developed a deep love for one another while fighting for their country. Month after month, during the European stalemate, they lived together in the mud and misery of trench warfare. From time to time the troops would rise up out of the trenches and go out against the opposing forces; then they would fall back into the trenches and bury their dead. That process went on over and over again; and as it did the bond between the soldiers grew deeper and deeper. Two soldiers, Jim and Bill, became particularly close to one another. On one of those fruitless charges out of the trenches, Jim fell wounded on the battlefield. Bill made it safely back to the trenches. During the night Jim lay out in the open wounded and alone. Of course, the shelling from both sides continued and it was extremely dangerous to leave the trenches. But Bill wanted to go out and help find his friend. His commanding officer refused to let him go. When the officer wasn’t looking, Bill came up out of the trenches and miraculously made his way to Jim. Sometime later Bill managed to pull Jim back into the trenches. But it was too late. When he got there Jim was dead. Seeing the dead body, the commanding officer said to Bill, “Now, was that worth it; He’s dead anyway.” Bills response was, “Yes, Sir, it was worth it. My friend’s last words made it more than worth it. He looked up at me and said, “I knew you’d come.”