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Summary: You may recall the story of the Velveteen Rabbit...

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What is Love, Really?

1 John 4:7-12

11/13/05

You may recall the story of the Velveteen Rabbit who wanted to know what it meant to be real. He was a new toy and wasn’t like many of the other toys in the nursery of the house. He was looked at as different because he was shiny and new and all the other toys were rough and worn out from being played with so much. The little rabbit soon felt alone because of his differences but was befriended by the older and wiser Skin Horse. The rabbit doesn’t feel as if he is real in this nursery world because of his differences so he inquires of the old and wise Skin Horse- “What is real? What does it mean to be real”? And the Skin Horse tells him what it is to be real- “Real isn’t how you are made…..It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all because once you are real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” “Does it hurt?” asks the little rabbit. “Sometimes”, said the Skin Horse, “But when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

This is a wonderful children’s story that has to do with self-esteem, love and the meaning of life. We don’t often associate pain with love but as the old Skin Horse knew, pain is a necessary part of life if we are to be real, if we are to know what it really means to be loved. For it is often in the most painful moments of life, that we discover what love really is and who it is that truly loves us. When life is good and everything is going our way, we believe that we have hundreds of friends who would do anything for us. But when the storm clouds hover in our lives, many of our so called friends run for shelter. It is only those who truly love us, those who are real, that remain by our side.

The church should be a place where love is real and people should feel as if they can come here and find comfort and peace of mind when their world is crashing down on them. The people of God should love with a real kind of love because we realize that God loved and loves us that way.

For the past couple of Sundays, we have been discussing who God is, who He loves, and how He proved His love for us. v.10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God loved us and proved His love for us by sending His Son as a sacrifice for us, that is a love that is real. v.11 “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The point is that when we have received that love from God that is real, we have an obligation to love one another with that particular kind of love, that love that is real.

The problem is, we are so confused as to what love is. We live in a world where love has so many definitions that we’re not certain as to what it means to love someone this way.

I love my children-they are the pride and joy of my life and I can’t think of a stronger love than when a parent loves their children. I love my parents-they are the most wonderful people in the world and have gone overboard at sharing their love with me. But I love my children and my parents differently. I am in love with Rose-she is a gift of God to me and I don’t like it when we’re not together. I love Miss. State-as painful as it sometimes is, I love the Dawgs and will be loyal to them til the day I die. I love chocolate-give me a bag of peanut M&M’s and I am in heaven!

I love all of these people and things in my life but I love each of them differently. So when the scripture tells us we ought to love one another, what in the world does that mean? What is this thing called love? What is real love?

We could look it up in the dictionary to see how Webster defines it, we could ask one another what love is, but by the time we were finished, we’d probably be as confused as were from the start. But there is One who is true and there is One who is real and the best place to discover what love really is, is found in His Word.

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