Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: In our Scripture for today we can easily conclude that love is not an emotion as much as it is an emulation of the One who first loved us. Love is more than a longing -- it is an action.

The Prerequisite Of Love

1 John 4:7-12

I first heard the report on the radio as I was driving to work this week - Jane Fonda had given her life to Christ. The woman who has recently gone through a divorce to Ted Turner, sold more exercise videos than Bill Gates has sold Windows, and who has been known as "Hanoi Jane" had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I have to confess and repent of my sins before you this morning. When I first heard the report I was so skeptical. I thought it was merely another Hollywood type out for publicity. Then I read a report from Cal Thomas in the Miami Herald on Thursday and I felt like such a hypocrite. Cal Thomas writes,

If press reports are true, Fonda's chauffeur and a woman married to a Turner Broadcasting System executive were instrumental in bringing her to faith. No prominent clergyman was involved. Just a chauffeur and a faithful friend. How like God.

Cal Thomas' article hit me especially hard because he points out that many religious folks, who are now aware of Jane Fonda's conversion, have never prayed for her. More time has been spent by Christians denouncing Jane Fonda than praying for her to come to know Jesus. There will be some Christians who will refuse to believe that someone like Jane Fonda could ever come to know Christ, but her pastor is not one of those.

The Rev. Gerald Durley, pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the chauffeur who led her Christ attends church, said that he has seen Fonda at Bible studies and in worship services and he says: "I am extremely impressed with the genuineness and sincerity of [her] search for spirituality and wholeness. . . . I think she has found a certain sense of peace among those who've found peace with Christianity.''

Cal Thomas writes in his article,

No power on Earth, and certainly no power of denunciation, could have changed Fonda's life. More than seeing how her life has changed, it will be interesting to see how she changes the lives of those who have hated her and have put ``Hanoi Jane'' bumper stickers on their cars, referring to an ill-considered visit to North Vietnam during that divisive war. The power of love to change a life is far greater than the power of criticism and harsh judgment. Without speaking a public word, Fonda already may have exuded a force more powerful than any other political idea or philosophy that she may have promoted in the past. (c)2000 Los Angeles Times Syndicate

The story of Jane Fonda's conversion beautifully illustrates for us the powerful message that John is seeking to share with us this morning. Jane Fonda's acceptance of Jesus as her Lord and Savior was not due to some high-powered preacher who worked his magic and persuaded her to come to Christ. God used a nameless chauffeur and a trusted friend who prayed for her, loved her, and allowed Jesus to shine through their lives until He broke through to Jane's heart. What an awesome God we serve!

The chauffeur and friend understand that the prerequisite to sharing real love with another person is to all the Lord's love to change our own lives. They know that real love is not focused on what it will get in return, real love is much more concerned with loving. True love is not consumed with tingly sensations, but with serving those around them. John wants all of us to understand that we are to love one another, even those hated by society, because God has clearly demonstrated His love for us in Jesus' death upon the cross. This morning I want us to take the time to take a long, hard look at John's lesson for us found in 1 John 4:7-12. Let's take a look at our Scripture for this morning.

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12 NIV)

In our Scripture for today we can easily conclude that love is not an emotion as much as it is an emulation of the One who first loved us. Love is more than a longing -- it is an action. Love has nothing to do with self-fulfillment, but it has everything to do with self-sacrifice. John begins his lesson by instructing us in a very straightforward manner. He says in verse 7,

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