Summary: Christ’s testimony, written in blood, is our testimony, written in love.
The Bible is a feast of great gifts from God.—a harvet of righteousness gleaned from the fields of sacrifice and surrender. Some chapters are so poignant and powerful they stand alone.
When I say Creation...you think Genesis 1. When I say The Good Shepherd...you think Psalm 23. When I say The Suffering Servant...I hope you think Isaiah 53. When I say the Beatitudes...you think, oh yeah, The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5. And when I say the Love Chapter you think 1Corinthians 13. This morning we’re going to first look at the “other” Love Chapter, 1John 4.
John (known as the apostle Jesus loved the most) begins in verse 7 with a simple greeting, “Dear friends”. this is warm and affectionate and it’s also deliberate. John is both affirming and challenging us with this greeting. I believe he’s thinking of Jesus’ words, “When you do as I command, you are no longer my servants but you have become my friends.” Jesus and John are referring to us, not as co-laborers or fellow slaves but, as friends. This is both beautiful and demanding. This is full of grace and responsibility.
ILL: When I pastored in CA I served on 2 commissions. One of them was the board for a home for unwed mothers willing to give their children up for adoption, rather than abort them. In gathering research for a presentation, the board received a letter of encouragement from then Cardinal John O’Connor of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Both his passion and compassion were inspiring, but what moved me the most was the way he signed his letter. “Remember me as loving you, John.”
How will others remember us as loving them?
The apostle John writes in the other love chapter three powerful challenges in one verse.
He says, “Let us love one another.” He proclaims that “everyone who loves has been born of God.” And that everyone who loves, “knows God.”
Our first challenge is to accept the invitation that we’ve already received. “Let us love one another.” He’s giving us permission to do what we’re already designed to do.
The second challenge, “everyone who loves has been born of God.” is our call to return to the roots of our very being—to acknowledge, affirm and act on our birth right. We are God’s children, loved by Him, we ar God lovers and we are God’s lovers.
The third challenge, “everyone who loves knows God.” is about anchoring our future into His foundation. Love is where we’re from, love is what we’re about and love is where we’re heading. We are God’s resevoir of love...designed to overflow and overwhelm a dark and troubled world.
When we’re connected...tied in...linked up...and then overflowing with love, the details of this world shrink to their actual size. We remember it isn’t about power, positon or prestige. As Rick Warren says, "It’s more than survival, (or status) or our success. It’s about signifigance." And I like to add, that if it’s truly significant then it’s about love.
People know there’s something wrong. They’ve probably always known. There’s too much lonely and not enough love. People have struggled to express it for years in poetry and music.
Some older song lyrics I remember from the past are:
“Oh I can’t keep it in, no I’ve got to let it out, I’ve got to show the world, the world’s got to see, see all the love, love that’s in me....”
“What the world needs now.is love sweet love--that’s the only thing that there’s just too litle of....”
ILL: An eleventh grade student in my son’s English class confronted him with a knife. My son slowly spoke to his class as he faced the boy,“If any of you know how to pray, now’s a good time.” Afterwards, my son wept for the boy because he sensed the boy thought no one loved him.
“Love in any language, straight from the heart.pulls us all together, never apart.
When you learn to speak it. all the world will hear...love in any language, fluently spoken here..”
John in another love letter suggests the key to our love shortage. In 3John 1 he says. “May you prosper and be in good health, just as your spirit does.” John builds a link to the depth of our spirit and the breadth of our love. Because “God is love” and not just interested in love, we are compelled to love better. We are called to value relationships, invest in people, listen to the heartache and love them all. (Anybody can love lovely people.)
Mary Martin, famous Broadway actress who starred in “The King and I”, “Peter Pan”, Oklahoma” and “The Sound of Music”, among others, was asked to share the secret to how well she related to her audiences. She replied, “Before the show begins, I peek throught the curtains and while theaudience is filing in to their seats, I look at as many people as I can and say. ‘I love you” to each of them.”