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Stellick-Gerling Wedding Sermon

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(NIV)
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 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. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Weddings are great opportunities to see resemblances. There is a groom side of the church and a bride side of the church, and if you pay attention you definitely see some similarities: hair, eye color, noses, chins, even personalities and gestures. We definitely tend to look (and sometimes act) like one or both of our parents or grandparents, don't we? Hannah and Steve, I’m so happy for you today--not because you resemble your parents, although they are good looking people!—but because you resemble the One who is most prominent in this passage: God. Because you resemble him, what the apostle John wrote here will work for you! Unlike many people getting married this weekend you can love each other deeply and in a committed way that will last. But the kind of love that John talks about here was not always a part of you.
his exhortation by John can work for both of you because you know God. That is uncommon today. For most couples getting married in 2018, sharing the same faith in Jesus Christ is on the bottom of their list if it even makes the list.
We humans use the word love in so many different ways: we love basketball, we love our grandma, we love our caramel macchiato from Starbucks, but that’s not the kind of love John is talking about. God’s love is way more special than that. His kind of love is not found in our hearts by nature. You didn’t and couldn’t love God first because you didn’t have that kind of love to give. Just like the rest of us, you were born sinners and enemies of God without true faith in him. Just like Adam after he sinned, you viewed God with fear, suspicion and hatred. The love to heal that relationship had to come from somewhere else, and it did. John tells us that “God is love.” Love has its origin in God. Love is one of God’s characteristics. He has so much of this quality in him that John says that he is love. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love each other perfectly in their eternal relationship. But thankfully God does not keep that love locked inside of himself; he showers it on the whole creation, especially on us humans. The crowning achievement of God’s love is expressed by John with these profound words: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 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” (). Our sin brings us spiritual, physical and eternal death. Jesus’ life and death bring us spiritual, physical and eternal life without cost or effort from us! What kind of love does this? An amazing kind of love that has the power to change those whom it loves.
We didn’t and couldn’t love God first. It was he who loved us first and his immanent love showed itself by the gift of his Son.
But thankfully God does not keep that love for himself, locked inside of his heart; he showers it on the whole creation, especially on us humans, who are the crowning achievement of his creative work.
The only reason human beings can love at all is because of our Creator, who is love.
The only reason human beings can love at all is because of our Creator, who is love.
A group of Bible translators was producing a Bible translation for an African tribal community: The verbs for that particular African language consistently ended with one of three vowels: i, a, or u. But the word for 'love' (dv) was only found with i and a. Why no u? The translation team gathered the most influential leaders in the community to help them understand the concept of “love” in their language, so the team began to question them: “Could you dvi your wife?” “Yes,” they answered, “that would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love was gone.” “Could you dva your wife?” “Yes, that kind of love depends on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and took good care of her husband.” “Could you dvu your wife?” Everyone in the room laughed. “Of course not!” they replied. “If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water and never made you meals. No, we would never say dvu.” The team sat quietly for a while, and then asked, “Could God dvu people?” There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the faces of the elderly men of the tribe. Finally they responded, “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, while all that time we rejected His great love. He would still love us even though we have sinned more than any people.” Changing one simple vowel changed the meaning from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on who I am.” Hannah and Steve, God loves you because of Who HE is and not because of who you are or what you have done! His love frees you from the burden of loving each other in order to get the other’s approval. You already have God’s approval and that empowers you to love your spouse the way God loves you. Even though you love will always be a poor reflection of God’s love, the love you show to each other will show your spiritual parentage: you are children of God.
"The verbs for a particular African language consistently end with one of three vowels,” explains Dennis Farthing from the NTM Missionary Training Center. “Almost every verb ends in i, a, or u. But the word for 'love' was only found with i and a. Why no u?”
Dennis says the Bible translation team included the most influential leaders in the local community. In an effort to truly understand the concept of “love” in this African language, the missionary began to question them.
ould you dvi your wife?”
“Yes,” they answered, “that would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love was gone.”
“Could you dva your wife?”
“Yes,” they responded, “that kind of love depends on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and took good care of her husband.”
Both of you know that God of love by faith and now you can love like he does, even though you love is a poor reflection of God’s love as long as you live in the world. The love you show to each other will show your spiritual parentage: you are children of God. Not only are you going to be husband and wife; you are also members of the same spiritual family: the Holy Christian Church.
“Could you dvu your wife?”
Everyone in the room laughed.
“Of course not!” they replied. “If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water and never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would have to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say dvu. It just doesn’t exist.”
The missionary sat quietly for a while, and then he asked, “Could God dvu people?”
Yet there will alway be challenges to that love! I know your heads are in the clouds right now, but when the euphoria wears off, reality sets in and you begin to see things in your spouse that you perhaps didn’t see before…things that you might not be all that happy with. That’s one reason why many marriages don’t last. They each think to themselves, “This isn’t the same person I married.” When reality sets in, then God’s love that he has planted in your hearts can really start doing its work, like we heard in the reading from I Corinthians…it is kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered nor does it keep a record of wrongs. Instead it always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres because it is not given or taken away based on the behavior of the other person, but it is given to the other unconditionally because that is how God treats you.
There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of the elderly men of the tribe. Finally they responded, “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, while all that time we rejected His great love. He would be compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”
The missionary noted that changing one simple vowel changed the meaning from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on who I am. I love you because of me and not because of you.”
Dennis concludes, “God encoded the story of His unconditional love right into this African language. For centuries, the little word was there—unused but available, grammatically correct and quite understandable.”
APPLICATION
Have you embraced the fact that God dvu's you? He loves you because of Who HE is and not because of who you are or what you have done! No longer do you need to seek approval and acceptance from others to be loved. You are known and loved by Him Who loves you just because of Who He is.
That should blow our minds and overwhelm our spirits. Knowing that we are loved like this gives us what we need to love others with the same unconditional love. Such a love sets us free. Free to love as He has loved us.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" ().
In your marriage as a Christian, there will be times that you will ask yourself: how could I have shown such a lack of love to my spouse today? I'm a believer who knows God's grace! How could I have been so selfish? How could I have said that to him? How could I have done that to her? In those moments you will need to remember that YOU are NOT love; GOD is LOVE. You will need to be reminded again about the quality of God's love for you, even though you have epically failed to imitate it. The quality of God's love is so high that it loves you without exception, loves you when you are unlovable, has no strings attached, is not earned or deserved...and forgives YOU completely, without cost and without effort on your part. That is amazing love, the most amazing love that exists.
Everyone who knows God by faith loves like he does, even though the believer’s love is a poor reflection of it. It will never be a perfect copy in this world, but it will be there. The love we show to each other shows our spiritual parentage. It shows that we are adopted children of God by faith in his Son. Not only are you going to be husband and wife; you are also members of the same spiritual family: the Holy Christian Church
It might be easier to love each other now, but when the euphoria wears off, reality sets in and you begin to see things in your spouse that you perhaps didn’t see before…things that you might not be all that happy with. That’s one reason why many marriages don’t last. They each think to themselves, “This isn’t the same person I married.” When reality sets in, then God’s love that he has planted in your hearts can really start doing its work, like we heard in the reading from I Corinthians…it is kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered nor does it keep a record of wrongs. Instead it always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres because it is not given or taken away based on the behavior of the other person, but it is given because that’s how God’s kind of love works.
This exhortation by John can work for both of you because you know God. That is uncommon today. For most couples getting married in 2018, sharing the same faith in
* The waters of the Dead Sea are unfit to drink and useless for irrigation because water only flows in; nothing flows out. In the same way, mercy needs to keep moving, or we will stagnate. If we love one another, says John, God’s love is made complete, that is, we fulfill his loving purpose and continue the chain reaction. Love stimulates more love, and in this way hatred is melted, wounds are healed, grudges are forgotten, grievances forgiven, hope shared, emptiness filled, and loneliness eased in human hearts.
You probably consider each other to be your best friend, right? Remember that as Christians you are not only marrying your best friend for what he or she is right now, but for what he or she will be in the future, because God is not finished with either of you! As you grow in faith and in knowledge of God, you will grow in your love for each other by the work of his Spirit. You will get better at loving and become more lovable. Remember that every day, and help each other to grow in sanctification. Forgive each other when you fail and point each other to God’s unconditional, forgiving love in Christ, and help each other to go forward together walking in God’s will. Never say about your spouse, “He/she will never change!”
Your spouse can’t see God. No one can, but when your spouse sees you showing them the same kind of love that God showed the world, then, in a sense, they see God through your actions. That uncommon love that has been called Agape love, when it shows up in your attitude and actions, is God’s goal for you. His love is made complete in us when we willingly put it into practice.
Your spouse can’t see God, and neither can you. No one can, like John says, but when each of you sees the other showing them the same kind of love that God showed the world, then, in a sense, you will see God through each others’ actions. When that happens, then God’s love finds its true purpose and fulfillment in your lives. Then ten years from now, twenty, thirty, forty…maybe even fifty or sixty years from now, both of you will look through your wedding album and see resemblances…between you and your relatives, recorded forever on film, and you will give thanks for the great influence they had on you that shaped your lives. But you will especially see resemblance between God’s love and yours, a love that sustained you and kept your marriage alive and flourishing, and you will give thanks to the One whose love alone made it possible. That’s my prayer for you today and always! Amen.
Your spouse can’t see God, and neither can you. No one can, but when each of you sees the other showing them the same kind of love that God showed the world, then, in a sense, you will see God through each others’ actions. When that happens, then God’s love finds its true purpose and fulfillment in your lives. Then ten years from now, twenty, thirty, forty…maybe even fifty or sixty years from now, both of you will look through your wedding album and see resemblances…between you and your relatives, recorded forever on film, and you will give thanks for the great influence they had on you that shaped your lives. But you will especially see resemblance between God’s love and yours, a love that sustained you and kept your marriage alive, and you will give thanks to the One whose love alone made it possible.
Our human love tends to be sinfully self-centered. We love if it brings us an advantage. God’s love is unselfish. Loving each other like God doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. It means focusing on your spouse more.
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