Summary: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
THE MISUNDERSTOOD GOD**: THE “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME” GOD
Big Idea: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love … does not envy.
Sadly, too many times and in too many ways we have been taught that love takes; that love amasses for its self. That is how stalkers justify their actions. That is the core of materialism. Because of this, love is seen as selfish and self-absorbed.
But we know love is just the opposite. Love is not hunting and hoarding – love is magnanimous, generous, and gives of itself.
Billy Graham once said, “True love is an act of the will – a conscious decision to do what is best for the other person instead of ourselves.” That …. Is … God! God is not a “taker.” God is a giver.
But sometimes his followers have a misunderstanding here. They allow the world’s warped view of love to infiltrate their view of the Father’s love. As a result the way they love their church and their other relationships are hindered.
On too many occasions I have seen otherwise well-adjusted believers inflict themselves with guilt because they assume God is a “taker.” They don’t use those words but the the way they live their faith shows it is embedded within them. They behave as if God demands every second of their time be overtly religious and pious. They take passages like 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” And turn it into a guilt-inflicting legalistic law that sucks the life and love out of the relationship.
I have watched Christians go to hockey games and then feel guilty about either enjoying themselves or because they did not spend that time doing something overtly religious. But, assuming you are following Christ and your heart is turned to him, I can assure you God is not sticking his lower lip out, slumping his shoulders, folding his arms and frowning because you did not spend it with him in Bible study and prayer.
I have watched Christians feel bad because they took a vacation and did not witness to the person in the seat next them on the airplane. But I assure you, God is not going putting you on the naughty list or accusing you of being ashamed of him. If the door opens to share Christ, by all means do it but don’t inflict guilt upon yourself for being “carnal” or “a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God” (2 Timothy 3:4).
I want you to understand that God is not pouting because you went to a hockey game, or played a computer game, or went to The Phantom of the Opera or watched a TV show. Good art, music, and other activities are healthy and appropriate. God is not saying “What about me!? It’s all about me!” Now, if you are neglecting your walk with Christ or if you are making your recreation into a god, that is an entirely different matter. But I am talking about otherwise well balanced believers whose hearts are turned to him. It is ok to enjoy life and be a holy human – God will be glorified through a life surrendered to him as it interacts with His world.
Have you ever heard a preacher say something like, “God is a jealous God and wants you all to Himself. He wants you to give yourself to him and him alone?” Well, I know you have heard me feed you that line and, I guess, taken in context it has a truth to it but it also has a lie in it.
Have you ever heard a preacher say something like: “God wants you saved so bad that he will make you miserable or even sick in order to get your attention?” That’s what a stalker does not Jesus! Love does not say “If I can’t have you nobody can.” The New Testament never teaches that and you certainly never see Jesus employing such a stunt to get people to turn to him. Romans 2:4 asks, Don’t you realize “the kindness of God leads us to repentance?” God may use your pain or misfortune to offer himself to you but God does not do bad things to get good results. God does not slice your tires like a jilted lover hoping you will call him to help with the repair so he can show you how important he is to your life.