Summary: Everyone loves love! We want to be loved and we want to give love. The problem is—our love is often lacking. This four-sermon series explores 1 John in order to discover a love that's truly worth having and giving: real love! PowerPoint available.
REAL LOVE (4)
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 6/9/2013
There’s an old song that says, “Love is a many-splendored thing.” The very concept of love is one of the most permeating themes in the world today. The Beatles sang about in the sixties. Their message to a hurt and frightened world was, “love is all you need.” According the New York Public Library database, there are at least 35,533 books currently in print with the word “love” in the title and over 12,958 music CDs. If you Google the word love on the internet, you’ll find at least 11,160,000,000 web-sites that that use “love” as one of their key words, including lovecalculator.com, which calculates the probability of a successful relationship between two people. All you do is type in two names, click “calculate” and Dr. Love will tell you the likelihood of a lasting relationship. I couldn’t help myself, so I typed in mine and Ashley’s names and according to Dr. Love we have a 61% chance of things working out. I thought maybe that was because we have the same last name, so I tried again with Ashley’s maiden name, but then it dropped to 47%!
I think the Love Calculator is a good example of how confused our culture can be when it comes to love. When I watch TV, browse the internet, or scan magazines in the checkout lines, it’s clear that the world has a very poor understanding of real love. And we’ve talked about that the last couple of weeks. In 1 John 2, the Apostle John describes a worldly type of love that’s all about selfishness, sex and stuff. Then in contrast, in 1 John 3, he describes three characteristics of real love—sacrifice, service and security.
But in 1 John 4, John gives us the ultimate definition of love—a simple, yet profound description that knocks the walls out of any definition that would limit the scope and intensity of love. Are you ready for it? Here it is:
“God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Those three little words ought to fill our hearts with warmth and hope. If those words are true, it makes all the difference in the world! But we need to understand this rightly. “God is love” does not mean that “love is God.” In other words, love does not define God; rather, God defines love. Much of what we call “love” in modern America bears no resemblance or relationship to real love. So it is important that we dig a little deeper into this passage to discover what God’s love—what real love—is all about. In this chapter, John reveals four characteristics of God’s love.
• A PERSONAL LOVE
First, God’s love is a personal love. John begins this section of Scripture by saying, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NLT).
I think the overriding impression of these two verses is that the love of God is personal. God’s love causes us to know Him, and Him to know us. When we’re filled with God’s love it demonstrates that we are his children. I think that A.W. Tozer said it best: “The love of God is one of the great realities of the universe, a pillar upon which the hope of the world rests. But it is a personal, intimate thing too. God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men.” Every individual person is important to God, and He loves each one of us. G.K. Chesterton understood this truth when he said, “All people matter. You matter. I matter. It’s the hardest thing in theology to believe.”
Jesus once put it this way: “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them… So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7 NLT). In Jesus’ day a copper coin was one of the smallest coins in circulation—a penny. And one such penny could buy you two sparrows. But two pennies could buy you five sparrows. Sparrows were so worthless that you buy four at a penny-a-pair and get a fifth sparrow for free. They were less than a-dime-a-dozen! There may be days when you feel like a fifth sparrow. Worthless. Insignificant. Unimportant. Unloved. But you’re not! You are loved by God! Even the sparrows matter to him and you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows! You’re the apple of his eye. You’re the bubble in his Pepsi. As Augustine put it, “He loves each one of us, as if there were only one of us.”