Summary: True love comes from God and is demonstrated by God in sending Jesus to die for us. Truly Loving one another can be made possible by God’s Holy Spirit living within us.
Love is a wonderful thing isn’t it? It’s all you need. It makes the world go round. It’s a many splendoured thing. And no doubt you could all quote me several other lyrics from popular songs. But please don’t! No, we all know that Dean and Anna are here today because of their love for one another. And all I want to say to them is to love one another. And to keep loving one another. Not just today, or the next week or so, while the excitements there, but for the rest of your life. Now it might seem strange to some people to hear me telling you that you need to love one another - they’re probably the ones who aren’t married yet - but you do need to hear it. In a few moments you’re going to promise to love one another for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness as well as in health. Half of those situations will make it hard to keep that promise. Some of those situations might make it almost impossible to keep that promise. So I’m not just going to say love one another, I’m going to give you some suggestions about how you might manage to do it.
The reading we just had says a lot about love doesn’t it? And it says it beautifully. I’m not sure if you were paying close attention to it though. You seemed a little distracted with one another for some reason, so let me remind you what it said. These words are far better than the lyrics of a popular song. The first thing it tells us is that "Love is from God." Your marriage may or may not turn out to be made in heaven, but your love certainly is. If you want to understand true love then where better to look than at the love that God shows us.
That’s because the second thing it says is that true love is shown in the way God loved us. Sometimes we get the idea that love is something sweet and soppy: the sort of thing you see in a Hollywood chick flick, where everyone’s been through half a box of tissues by the end. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good chick flick. I quite liked "Sleepless in Seattle" - though I think "An Affair to Remember" was probably a better film. But those movies never give a true picture of real love, do they?
No here’s what true love is like: "9God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him." How might we live through him? "10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." True love, you see, is willing to sacrifice itself for the sake of the loved one. True love gives up its own rights in order to serve the other. God gave up his only Son so we could be forgiven and be brought back to him. Jesus loved us by dying a terrible death so we might live. So how are you going to love one another? By seeking to do things that will serve the other, that’ll help the other, that’ll build the other up. And by refraining from doing those things that will annoy the other or that will put the other down, or that will hurt the other.
Still you need some encouragement to keep this up don’t you? So here’s one bit of encouragement from this reading: "12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us." The love you show towards one another, particularly when the going gets tough, will demonstrate to yourselves and to those around you that God is living within you. Now I know that you’re both committed Christians who desire nothing greater than for other people to come to know God the way you do. And here’s the way to show them what God is like. Show them the way God loves, in the way you love one another. Show them the way God loves, in the way you forgive one another, over and over again if necessary; in the way you go out of your way to please one another; in the way you change your behaviour in order to please one another.
Finally, be assured that what I’m encouraging you to do is not beyond your ability. Yes, marriage is an impossible relationship between two incompatible people. Yes, it will be hard to love when you get to those moments that are for worse or for poorer or involve sickness rather than health, but here’s the real secret to loving the way God does. There it is in v13: God enables us to love by giving us his Spirit to live in us. "13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit." The great thing about the Christian message is that it isn’t about a set of rules that you have to obey, no matter what, all on your own. If that were the case then we’d all be lost. No, the message of Christ is about a relationship that we have with God, a relationship that’s made possible because God gives us his own Spirit to live within us, to change us, to empower us to live the way he wants us to. As it says here in v15, if we confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God comes to live within us. God comes to live within us and when God lives within us the love of God becomes something that shows naturally in our lives. So keep on loving one another.