Summary: Loving God and loving others is hard work. However, hard it is at times, it is still the way that God has created us to live. We’ll look at what this Labor of Love is and what it is not.

The Labor of Love

1 Corinthians 13

August 31, 2008

Labor Day. Originally a day set aside to honor the American worker. Now it is really a holiday or three day weekend to mark the end of the summer season. According to the movement of the earth around the sun, we still have a couple of weeks of summer. But functionally in our culture, summer begins Memorial Day weekend and ends Labor Day weekend. Vacations end. Amusement Parks close or at least cut back to weekends.

Stores used to be closed on Labor Day but not anymore. Instead they have big sales. Three store owners shared adjacent storefronts in the same building. Times were tough. In hopes of picking up sales, the owner of the shop at one end of the building put a sign over his front entrance that said, YEAR-END CLEARANCE!!! At the other end of the building, another owner responded with his own sign: ANNUAL CLOSE-OUT.

The owner of the store in the middle knew he had to act fast or he’d lose business. After careful consideration, he hung a larger sign over his front door that read, MAIN ENTRANCE.

A couple of years ago, we took the Natural Church Development survey. It is survey of questions designed to measure eight qualities of a healthy church. The idea is that we work on the lowest quality then you take it again and work on that lowest quality and so on. We had two lowest qualities that tied. It is recommended to work on only one so we chose the category of Loving Relationships. Since then we have done a whole host of strategies and things to help us all love others better: secret sisters, men and women’s breakfasts, the Series on the Mount which focuses on the Shema of Jesus: Love God and love others

We’ve done interactive worship elements to help us worship together as families and as a community. Things like the Mercy Seat and the Bread Man help us worship as a community. We’ve begun exploring what holistic community is and what it means and how we live it out. We’ve partnered with groups and ministries to show love to others like World Vision and The Upper Room. We’ve had different small groups that have met to study things like Experiencing God and the NOOMA videos. We’ve had town meetings, picnics, ball games, shopping trips, and even Kid’s Day. We’ve had time to reconnect before worship with coffee and snacks.

We’ll now is the time to see where we are at. The AD Team needs your help in two weeks to fill out our next survey to measure our progress and determine what needs to be done next. I’m also asking you to help out by filling out a quick survey on how we serve others. Many filled it out once before and this is a way that we can compare the overall average scores.

So in this spirit, I want to share with you a message of love on love called labor of love. It comes from 1 Corinthians 13, which was read earlier.

There was a couple getting married but the bride was really nervous. She was afraid that something was going to happen. She was desperately trying to think of anything and everything that might go wrong. The pastor had seen the escalation of anxiety the bride and pulled a verse to be read during the rehearsal. It was 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”

The pastor had a moment of inspiration. He knew the best man didn’t follow Jesus so he decided to have the best man read the verse hoping that his involvement might heighten his awareness of how the Scripture has such a positive affect on people. However, the best man had no idea how the bible was organized and he found John 4:18 instead 1 John 4:18.

“I know how nervous and chaotic it has been. But right now, I want you to trust in Jesus and that everything will be fine. God wants to remind you how much he loves you and speak to you at this moment. I’ve asked the best man to read a special verse for you at this moment.”

And so the best man read John 4:18, “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

Love is work. It is tough but it is not the weary creating and burden making work that the religious rulers were inflicting on people. Jesus said that his ways allow for rest. Divine rest. His way is the way of love. It is “The Labor of Love” which is the work of God.

This Labor of Love is where heaven meets the earth (“your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”) It is where we taste the resurrection. It is where the kingdom comes into our midst. It is God’s work in us and through us.

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