Faithlife Sermons

Loving Each Other

Following the Risen Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  21:50
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Let us pray…Gracious and loving God, as we come before you this day, we come with love in our hearts for all that our mothers and those who have been like a mom to us have done for us throughout our lives. But, we also come to remember that your love for these women and others who have loved us so much is what has instructed their love toward us. In these coming moments, help us to feel your love through them and then be able to take the words of your Son into the world to show it the love that is possible. In your Son’s precious name we pray, Amen.

What is Love?

Back in the 1960’s there was a song released by a very popular group of the time that raised a lot of eyebrows and caused quite a stir. The name of the song, “All You Need is Love”…here are a few lyrics of that song, just in case you have never heard it before...
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need. There's nothing you can know that isn't known. Nothing you can see that isn't shown. There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy. All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love.
When John Lennon wrote these words, I am not sure he envisioned them becoming part of a sermon…however, they aptly describe something all of us feel, right? I mean feeling loved and being loved is one of the most important things in our lives.
Many people live their entire lives seeking to be loved…and there are just as many ways that people live this out in their lives. One aspect of showing love is by doing what is best for others, despite how much it might hurt them in the immediate. Another way of showing love to others is to give them gifts, even if it is seen as trying to buy someone else’s affection. We can shower someone with love, especially when we are trying to win their hearts. We can give of ourselves to advance someone else’s desires as well. There are many ways to show love. The thing is though, true depiction and demonstration of love has nothing to do with feelings…you will hopefully see what I mean before too long…at this point, however, I want us to note something in particular about these descriptions of love. Each one of them can be both positive and negative. Let me say that again…each demonstration of love that I described, and there are many more, but all of them can be either positive or negative. They are good ways to show someone how much we care but if we take them to the extreme, they can be detrimental to ourselves and others.
I don’t think that Jesus was trying to instruct the disciples to become overbearing or doormats, but I do think he wanted them, and by extension, us to realize that only through showing love can his mission in this world be fulfilled. So, at this point, I want us to consider what Jesus might have truly meant...

Reasons for Demonstrating Love...

First and foremost, we need to understand that Jesus did not come up with this concept first. God commanded the first humans to love…yes, all the way back to the Garden. When God created humans, it was to be in relationship with one another and the world around them. God did not want Adam to stand alone in this so God created a helper, someone to live in physical relationship with Adam. God did not create us for evil but evil came into the world and it is no more exhibited than when Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, killed his brother. I don’t want to get off on a tangent here but give you this example as a way to not show love for another human and I think we can all agree that Cain’s jealousy over Abel’s abilities and gifts is definitely not showing love.
Beyond the Garden, God instructed the Israelites, through Moses, to love through the 10 Commandments. Again, not getting too far away from the point here, but I know we have discussed this many times in the past…the 10 Commandments can all be broken down into Jesus’ two Commandments, loving God and love others. Each of the Commandments speaks to one of these two.
Jumping forward several hundred years, at the birth of Christ, we are told by the Gospel writers that love and light came into the world through the birth of this tiny baby. To quote an earlier verse in John’s Gospel, “God so loved the world that God gave the only begotten Son...” So, throughout our history, God has exemplified love for us through the words, deeds, and writings of all that we have in our Bibles. When we get to the point that we are in Jesus’ life, it is Jesus who is trying to emphasize what God had been saying for thousands of years. All we need is love...

Jesus’ Final Instructions

What we have in our Gospel lesson today is Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples, those who read John’s Gospel in the first century, some 60 years after Jesus’ death, and for us nearly 2,000 years later. His words are as timeless as the song that John Lennon wrote.
So what does Jesus really say in this passage? Well, I want to highlight something that you can go home and verify…in a few short minutes, Jesus instructs his disciples to love at least 8 times. Let me say that again…in this passage, 10 verses as we have it before us, Jesus says the word “Love” or its derivative, 8 times. Step back for a moment and think about that...
There is one other nuance that I want you to consider this morning too…Jesus speaks these instructions to his disciples on the very in which he was betrayed, arrested, and sentenced to death. I don’t know about you but if I were in Jesus’ sandals, I am not sure I would be instructing anyone to love their enemies particularly since Jesus also knew that each of the 11 men before him that night would die in a horrific way. Here’s the other thing I want you to consider…Jesus is comforting his disciples when anyone in today’s society would likely be panicking and looking for a way out.
On the night that he shared one final meal, washed the feet of the disciples, and had just sent away one of his friends who would sell his life for 30 pieces of silver, he instructs and comforts the remaining 11 by showing them love…here’s the thing…despite all this, these words still inform us today.

Enduring Love...

In today’s world, there is so much that is not loving and it would take me all day to list some, just some, of the many ways that society teaches us to not be loving. And I really think that this is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. While the heart of Jesus’ teaching really is about loving each other, there is something more to it than the word love, which is often overused and said without truly meaning it.
Remember last week when we talked about the vine and pruning the canopy? Well, this teaching is part of that discourse as well. Loving is more than just saying the word, we must act and be loving in everything that we do. Listen gang, I get it…I fall into the trap of sitting around the table and gossiping, as much as I hate to admit it, it is really easy to do. I fall into the trap of getting angry and saying things that are truly hurtful. I fall short of being 100% loving as I think Jesus is trying to teach about this week. But recognizing when we do these things in the moment is really hard. But as I said last week, when we talk about giving and using the gifts of the Spirit, we must produce fruit that has an enduring quality. Now, what do I mean by that?
Here’s something to consider…as you look back over your life, what are some of the best memories you have? Were they times when someone did something for you out of the blue, without being asked to do it? Was it a time when someone you loved did something just because? Was it doing something for a complete stranger because it was the right thing to do? These are the things that create enduring memories and also the sweetest fruit...
When we think about what we do and say on a daily basis, it is really important for us to look at the things that we do that do not exhibit love and begin trimming them from our lives. The world expects love to be spontaneous and driven by our feelings. However, God’s enduring love is not driven by a feeling, it is driven what is right and just in this world because to be honest, like Jesus’ waning hours as he gave this instruction, time and life is fleeting and sometimes we have to do what is right even when we don’t feel like it because none of us wants to be unloved even when we are unlovable…Amen.
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