Summary: A sermon about the agape love of God.

“No Strings Attached”

Mark 12:28-34

A man who really had no interest in Christianity became a casual friend with a Christian guy who lived next door.

They talked over the back fence, borrowed lawn mowers, stuff like that.

Then, the non-Christian man’s wife found out she had cancer, and died three months later.

Here is part of the note he wrote afterward:

“I was in total despair. I went through the funeral preparations and the service like I was in a trance.

After the service I went to the path along the river and walked all night.

But I didn’t walk alone.

My neighbor—afraid for me, I guess—stayed with me all night.

He didn’t speak; he didn’t even walk beside me.

He just followed me.

When the sun finally came up over the river, he came over and said, ‘Let’s go get some breakfast.’

I go to church now.

My neighbor’s church.

A religion that can produce the kind of caring and love my neighbor showed me is something I want to find out more about.

I want to love and be loved like that for the rest of my life.”

In the 2nd Century, one Christian theogian remarked how Christian love attracted the notice of non-believers: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our loving kindness.

‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another.’”

Is this how our community reacts when they think of East Ridge United Methodist Church?

What can we do to make an even bigger impact on those who want to love and be loved?

Because that is what people want; that is what people need; that is what people hunger for…

Unconditional love—with no strings attached!!!

Imagine if all Christians were to live this way.

Christ would have already returned.

But we can live this way.

And we are the only ones we have control over.

We can take back this city for Christ—through love.

East Ridge is in no way beyond redemption.

There’s a song that goes, “All you need is love; love is all you need.”

And that is true.

I know I used this at the evening service a couple weeks ago, but, have you ever heard the expression: “What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it is all about?”

Wouldn’t that be tragic?

And isn’t it sad that we live in a world that increasingly believes that this might as well be true.

It almost makes you want to cry, does it not?

We have children growing up who know absolutely nothing about true, real, unconditional love.

We have adults on crack, meth, living in hotels, living on the streets, killing themselves because they have never been loved or they don’t know they are loved.

They think that life is worth nothing, it’s cheap.

So why not just throw it away?

But life is not cheap.

It has incalculable worth!!!

God created every one of us out of love and because of love—in God’s image.

And when that image became blurred due to sin, God gave up everything to come and rescue us!!!

Life is not cheap or worthless.

And that is because God loves us, and Jesus shed His blood to prove that love and save us from self-destruction and misery!!!

A journalist from Time Magazine has described John 3:16 as “one of the most famous and well-known Bible verses.

It has been called the ‘Gospel in a Nutshell’ because it is considered to be a summary of the central doctrines of Christianity.”

And the verb translated as “love” in John 3:16 is the Greek word “agape.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whosoever shall believe in him shall not perish, but [will] have everlasting life.”

“God so agaped the world!!!”

Agape love is the love of God for you, me and the rest of humankind.

It represents divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active and thoughtful love.

It has no strings attached.

It is the highest level of love.

It is selfless, and it’s a love that is committed fully to the well-being of others.

Again, in its pure form it is essentially divine.

And yet Jesus calls us to love like this, and expects us to love like this.

When asked what the most important commandment is, Jesus answered, “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind and with all your strength.

And the second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself.

No other commandment is greater than these.”

And that is what it is all about…not the Hokey Pokey or anything else!!!

To love God is the greatest commandment, says Jesus, but it’s important to remember that God’s love for us comes first.

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