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What Is Love?

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What Is Love?

Intro - New short series, key in on the idea from Pilate (what is truth) guiding us to a similar question - What is love?
And we need to know what love is, church - we at least need to have some greater idea of love than what society informs us of!
I say that, because frankly, we all have a wildly different, and for some of us, greatly incorrect idea about love. And that is no insult! We have been born into a time of differing opinions, and instant information! We think of a question, and we ask the world - and get a thousand different answers in the blink of an eye.
That is a wonderful thing, church, but it can be damaging as well. I think back to my younger days, just a couple weeks ago, when I would sit and wonder if I loved someone. I mean, how different would that look if I had instant access to all these different opinions and interpretations of what was going on in my life?
Would I even be able to approach to know what love is?
I thank God that I could just sit in my room and wonder without any real outside influence! Do I love her? How will I know it? Does she love me? How can I tell?
If she lets me hold her hand, does she love me? If I buy her a gift, will she know I love her? Maybe if we go out to a romantic dinner, or for a long walk on the beach, maybe then they will know I love them!
But all those things aren’t really love. We distort what love is, church, with what emotion, and society tell us love should be, and what it should look like.
And today, I really want you to be honest with yourself. Admit what you believe love to be right now, in your head, and let’s together, let God use His word to help our hearts to hear his word.
talk about the many different ideas of love we have. hash them out briefly…from both sides maybe???
1 John 4:7–12 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
[story about love (man murdering wife?)
Wind up the intro by setting the stage for us to understand love the correct way - from God’s point of view - and not from our subjective and flawed perspectives.
----
1 John 4:7–12 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
pray
[picoflove]
It is important in life to set the right tone to anything you decide to do. To get off to a good start, if you will. And that is what I want to do today. And since we are talking about one of the most important aspects of our lives, and our faith, it is even more important for us to get off to a good start!
To do that, I want to dive right in to the meat of this message early on. I want to dissect the message that John spends this entire letter, and perhaps even a good portion of his gospel hinting around at!
God Is Love
I know we all know that. At least on the surface we know it. But still we sit here, the collected followers of Jesus, having just been redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice and reassured of His plan for us through the resurrection - here we are still wondering thousands of years later what love is supposed to look like!
It boggles the mind, really.
Just as I said earlier, we all have these different ideas of what love is supposed to look like. But here in the text, John tells us that love is one absolute and perfect thing!
God is love! And if God is love, then love is God!
Now I can hear the more cynical and sarcastic among us asking themselves, well if I can’t see God, I can’t see love! After all, no one can know God, right?
John 14:7–9 ESV
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel, “[read]”.
No, we all know God. We have all seen God! Even if you don’t know a single thing about Jesus, Paul reminds us that all creation speaks to the glory of God, so that we are all without excuse!
So you know Him. You have seen Him. We have all seen Him. We intrinsically know what He looks like!
But I want you to understand, church, if you don’t ever show love, you will never know love!
What love looks like.
So you know Him. You have seen Him. We have all seen Him. We intrinsically know what He looks like!
I think that the movie Forrest Gump reminds us the best of this simple fact. One of my favorite moments in it, is this simple reminder he gives Jenny, and the audience, that he might not be a smart man, but he knows what love is!
I think that the movie Forrest Gump reminds us the best of this fact. One of my favorite moments in it, is the simple reminder he gives Jenny, and the audience, that he might not be a smart man, but he knows what love is!
And so do we.
How does that song go? Don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology. Don’t know much about a science book. Don’t know much about the french I took. But I do know that I love you.
We know what love is, church. Sure we might close our eyes to it, and convince ourselves that it looks different than it really does, because of what the world, or our own desires tells us, but we know deep in our souls what it really is. We are without excuse.
[picoffightingcouple]
Now there is a difference here that I need to point out. We all know what love is, but sometimes, our situations, our anger, our disappointment, whatever it might be, something stands in between us and showing someone - or even the world - our love! True love; God’s love.
But I want you to understand, church, if you don’t ever show love, even when you don’t especially want to, you will never know love!
[married man story]
When you show love, you wind up loving; perhaps without even meaning to.
To know love, show love.
That is the power of love. An emotion, a state of being that “covers a multitude of sins!” The question is, do we respond to that love the right way? Do we see it, and in the process see God, and then try to figure out how to be more like Him? And to live more like that?
Are we more comfortable understanding the world without the cross, and without the resurrection? That is the real question. You see, when you don’t try to love, or live, like Jesus, then you essentially are telling God that you don’t really care about the cross or tomb!
You are living life completely removed from the ultimate expression of God’s feeling for all of mankind, and for you! He is showing you how to love! He is showing you what is expected! And we, like spoiled children, look that gift horse in the mouth and act as if love is something it isn’t.
[picofhappymarriage]
One of those things we act like love is, is a marriage. In fact, possibly the most common symbol of love is marriage. Of course, when you base love off of a flawed human expression of love, there tends to be problems. Don’t get me wrong, the institution of marriage is not to blame - God has given us all we need there - it is our application of love over a marriage, and then our comparison of that love over time that is to blame.
You see, what was a loving marriage to me, might not be the same to you. What seems normal to me might be abnormal to you.
So when we view love, or the expression of love, only through the lens of marriage, or romantic relationships, we fall short, because humans tend to fall short.
No, God knows we need something else to define love for us, and so in this text, and many others - and most importantly, the cross - He outlines that for us.
What is love? Love = Truth + _______
Love is really a pretty simple thing. We have already read in our text that God is love. So we know that we need to start right there, which we have. But what parts make up God?
Well for us, that answer is pretty straightforward! God is three parts. The Holy Trinity. We believe in a triune God - three distinct forms of the same distinct being.
God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit.
So if we are making an equation, we have much of what we need already! We know that God is made up of three parts and that God is love. So the transitive property, as we know it, is at work here! [shoutout to Reed]
If God = The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and God is the Father, then God = the Son and the Spirit. Further, if God is love than love equals the Son and the Spirit!
But that doesn’t really tell us much we don’t know yet. Let’s take it a bit further. You see, just a few verses later, John outlines just what we need to better understand this equation!
In chapter 5, starting in verse 6, he writes, “This is He who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”
The Spirit is truth!
Jesus Himself tells us as much in John’s Gospel! Jesus tells us that “when the Spirit of truth (meaning Holy Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the truth.”
So we plug that in! [first slide over]
Love = Truth + what?
Well you will notice that we only have God and the Spirit represented there. What about Jesus? To what can we compare Him? John gives us that too.
1 John 2:2 ESV
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
reads, He (that is Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world!”
reads, He (that is Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world!”
Let me repeat that, especially the last line, so that we can all digest that.
Now I know that you probably didn’t come here today for grammar, and you definitely didn’t come for math! And honestly, if you did, I am the wrong person speaking to you! But we need to figure out what propitiation is all about, because honestly, that isn’t a word that comes up much in my life!
Propitiation is defined as “the act of appeasing a god, spirit, or person.”
“Atonement.”
A propitiation is a sacrifice offered to God, in this case, for our sins.
This is backed up in the NIV, as it reads, “He is the atoning sacrifice” for us.
So Jesus is Savior, sure enough. He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. But He is also a sacrifice. The GREATEST sacrifice in fact! The propitiation for us all!
So when we plug that into our little equation, this is what we get:
What is love? Love = Truth + Sacrifice
Love, church, is truth plus sacrifice. [sliding while reading]
You see, when you offer someone truth, along with making some sacrifice, you are showing the truest form of love! I don’t mean romantic love, here, I mean that love that God so clearly outlines when He sacrificed His Son - Himself - the absolute truth, for us all!
God shows us that love is a sacrifice of who and what we are, in order to show someone the truth about what they were made by God to be! And to see the absolute truth of all creation - God Himself!
Love is a sacrifice of who and what we are, in order to show someone the truth about what they were made by God to be! And to see the absolute truth of all creation - God Himself!
And listen, that truth, the life and ways of God, that’s what sets us free! Free from our sin! Free from our shortcomings! Free from fear, free from doubt, free from death! The truth of God, and the sacrifice offered through Jesus, let’s every one of us truly see the clearest picture of God’s unending love for us!
And you know what? No matter how hard you try. No matter how expertly you parse language, or justify actions based on positions or dogma, you can’t find love with sacrifice. You can’t! You can’t find love without truth! It’s impossible!
Love is Sacrifice! Love is truth! Love can never be separated from the need of those trying to love others to offer themselves in service and truth to those who need love!
Regardless of race! Regardless of affiliation! Regardless of gender, or sexual persuasion, or habits, or faith! Christ’s sacrifice - which must is some way become the model for our own sacrifice - it demands that look at this whole world differently! After all, he was the propitiation - the atoning sacrifice for the whole world! So we must look at the world, no longer with the envious eyes of one who is outside of God’s favor, no, now we are those who understand what love is! We know what love is all about! And knowing that, has set us free!
Free to love with endless mercy! Free to offer our lives to our enemies! Free to lay down our evil intent and accept the provision of the one who gave up everything for us! Freedom to go and do God’s work in this world!
Free to live like Christ! Free to follow the more excellent way! The greatest command ever given to us! Love God! Love Neighbor! Love like Christ! Live like Christ!
Live life free from all doubt and fear!
1 John 4:18–19 NIV
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John
That is love, church!
Not that that we loved God first, but that He loved us from the very beginning, and offered His Son for us all.
Don’t be afraid to love like that church. Because once you get that spark to light that fire, it only goes out when you let it. Love WILL keep it going. Because, church, love is that spark. Love is God. God is love. Love is sacrifice. Love is truth. And love is here, waiting to live through your life in Christ.
[invitation]
[God is love - God’s other aspects are Jesus, and the Holy Spirit…God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. John later calls the Spirit “truth.” Jesus calls it that as well (). Jesus, the Son, is our “atoning sacrifice.” That means that God, being made up of the Son and the Spirit as well, is love, and that love is the result of sacrifice and truth. Where there is no truth, and no sacrifice, there is no love ().
probably need a story or two…keeping it light and don’t worry too much about length. You are setting up an idea for the series, which will go over each of the aspects of love outlined in ....So this sermon should end with “a better (or more noble) way.” The take away after today is that God is love, love is sacrifice and truth, and the way we live that out, the better way, is how the world - and us ourselves - know that we are of God.
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