Summary: Because of God’s love believers can experience power over sin, peace, and genuine love.
“The Ultimate Love”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
This question was posed to a group of four-to-eight-year-olds: “What does love mean?”
The answers were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined…
“During my piano recital, I was on stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” …
… “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” …
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him home all day.” …
… “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
In a world where the true meaning of love has been so misused, so misconstrued and so misunderstood…
….and, oh, so selfishly perverted…
…we can learn a lot about the true meaning of love from little children!
Through their humble, unpolluted, and honest eyes…children have little trouble seeing what is truly good and holding these things as the best of all virtues.
As adults, we often have a much harder time differentiating between what is truly good and what is truly evil.
I’m not trying to say that children are perfect.
We all know that isn’t true!
But Jesus did tell us, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
It is not difficult to receive love from a child.
All you really have to do is love them first…
…and they will love you back.
With adults, this is not so easy.
Just look what happens when we are shown the Ultimate Love…
…that is God sending His one and only Son into this world…
…not to condemn the world, but to save the world…
…way too many of us do not embrace, accept and believe in Him.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
Jesus Christ is this Light. He is the Light of the world. He is God’s full expression of Love toward humankind….
….and yet….those who decide not to believe in Him---as the Scripture says actually “hate” Him and “will not come to” Him.
God’s will and purpose is to save all people.
But He does not force His will upon us.
We have free-will, and it is up to each one of us to determine how we will react to God’s gracious offer of salvation.
Yes, in a sense, it can be a grave and dangerous thing to be offered the gift of God’s grace…
…because it is up to us as to what we will do with it.
No one can just push past Christ or pretend not to see Him.
Each of us must stand, listen, make up our minds, and give some answer.
Either we accept and believe what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, or we harden our faces, look God squarely in the eyes and answer: “I will not!”
And when we do this, we pass judgement on ourselves; since, in seeing the love of God in Christ, we will have none of it, but instead choose sin over love—the animal over the spiritual, the world over God, our customary ways over the Christlikeness that we could have!
One of our Fore-Fathers of the Christian faith once wrote: “Man is free to choose torment without God rather than happiness in God; he has a right to hell, as it were.”
Our Gospel lesson for this morning does not beat around the bush.
Jesus tells it like it is.
He has come to save the world, “but whoever does not believe stands condemned.”
In our intellectualized and enlightened world many folks make excuses as to why they do not believe.
They may speak of having “honest doubt.”
But honest doubt is not necessarily honest at all!
More often than not, it does not come from intellectual perplexity—but simply from moral perversity and a refusal to see what we do not want to see.
Many of us do not like the Light, and would blow it out if we could!
Because when we are born of God through our conviction of sin and by a belief in the full sufficiency of Christ to forgive us of our sins, we are never, ever the same people that we were before!
God begins to form a new nature or a divine disposition in our hearts.
And this divine disposition lives in those of us who believe, and it grows in us daily as we seek God in prayer, Bible study, worship, and love for other human beings.