Summary: Let us be a people of increasing commitment to sharing the love of God with one another and sharing the love of Christ without walls.
Love Without Walls, Romans 12:9-21
An escaped prisoner in the Civil War wandered for many days and nights, seeking the Union lines. At last, in the dusk of the early twilight, he came to a camp which he supposed belonged to the Confederates. Before he knew it he was surrounded by the pickets and captured, to be hurried back to prison, as he thought. But what was his surprise and joy, on looking a little closer, to find that it was the Union blue, and not the Confederate gray, that the soldiers wore!
He had been captured by his friends. When he thought that his friends were far away they were all around him. Oh, wanderer, and fugitive from God, lift up your eyes; the hosts of your friends surround you! God is near you. Jesus Christ is by your side. The Holy Spirit is hovering over you. The opening of your spiritual eyes will reveal it all.
This morning the primary theme or thesis of this sermon is simply this: “The love of God, the love of Christ in us, knows no walls.” We have been created to love recklessly, with abandon, just as God, in Christ, has loved us, uncontrollably and with reckless abandon.
As the Church of Christ, our primary mission, our main objective, is of course to love one another. Galatians 5:13 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (KJV) 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (KJV)
Our primary mission in the Church is to love one another radically, faithfully, freely in liberty, corporately, just as Christ has loved each one of us individually. In the very first verse of today’s Scripture reading the Apostle Paul says, “Let love be genuine.” I like the way that the King James Version says it even better though, rather than affirming the positive notion of letting love be genuine, the King James says, “Let love be without dissimulation,” that is, let love be without hypocrisy.
While more modern translations affirm positive genuineness of the love of Christ, the King James sticks with the original negative clause, by implication of course, love that is without hypocrisy will of course be genuine.
I’d like to focus for a few moments on what it means for love to be without hypocrisy. That is a very interesting concept. What does love have to do with hypocrisy? Here is what the Webster’s dictionary of 1828 says about hypocrisy.
“Simulation; a feigning to be what one is not; or dissimulation, a concealment of one’s real character or motives. More generally, hypocrisy is simulation, or the assuming of a false appearance of virtue or religion; a deceitful show of a good character, in morals or religion; a counterfeiting of religion. Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Luke 12. Simulation; deceitful appearance; false pretence. Hypocrisy is the necessary burden of villainy.”
How many of us have heard someone say, because surely we would never say such a thing, “I sure don’t like that person, but I love them in Christian love?” What does that mean? If I say that I love someone in “Christian love” but actually have hatred, disgust, or even strong dislike for them in my heart, is that yet pleasing to God? Is there a difference between feeling love and giving love?
In Mathew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (ESV)
Wow! Be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect! That is a tall task is it not? Here is what I believe that Jesus is saying to us; there is more to love than sentiment. There is one thing that we can count on in when reading the red words in the Bible, the words of Christ.
They are always practical and applicable to our lives in ways that are relevant and sure. If we read the words of Jesus and do not understand or appreciate them it is because of our limited ability to grasp and apply. It is never that they are inapplicable. Love is not merely a feeling.