· Turn to John 13
· First came out to CA on 1996, off-campus work study, Coffee Kiosk, great Christian company to work for, loaned me their car, hosted me for Thanksgiving, didn’t require compensation when steamer was left on all night. I was overwhelmed by their love.
· This is but one of many examples I could give that the Christian life is a life of love. Jesus, just prior to His departure, made this important statement.
· Rd Jn 13:34-35
· Two of the most important verses in the Bible for our church. I have witnessed this love in action, but I have also seen it miserably fail through harsh words, unforgiveness, and isolation.
· Love is the distinguishing mark of the believer. It makes us unique from the world. It’s something we should be continually growing in.
· & 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
· FIVE LESSONS ON LOVE:
The mandate of love
· “A new commandment I give to you”
· Commandment – not a suggestion; You MUST do it, but you also GET TO do it.
· Present continuous – not when you feel like it
· & John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
· & John 15:17 “This I command you, that you love one another.
· & 1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
· & Lev. 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD; cf. Jesus’ conversation with the lawyer in Mt. 22
· According to the early church fathers, this command stuck with the Apostle John to his dying day. In his extreme old age John repeated often this command of Jesus and justified it: ‘Because it is the Lord’s commandment; and if it be fulfilled, it is enough”
· Christians, this is your calling. This is your assignment. This is your job description. These are your marching orders from your leader. This is your divine mandate: That you love one another.
· >>New in what sense? A deeper quality than ever before.
The model of love
· “even as I have loved you”
· Immediately, the footwashing comes to mind
· Trading perfect fellowship with the Father for the fellowship of 12 men, who constantly disappointed one of whom would betray Him
· Trading the worship of the angels for the scorn and rejection of men
· Trading the glory and perfection of heaven to be surrounded by sin of this earth. Susan Lutz: “[Sin] was toxic to His nature. I would get sick breathing polluted air or drinking contaminated water, but Jesus was basically allergic to sin; it hurt Him and oppressed Him.”
· Giving Himself up, taking sin upon Himself, “becoming sin” on our behalf
· It is no wonder that 13:1 said “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end”
· This costly, unselfish, sacrificial, love becomes the model and standard for our love.
& 1 John 4:10-11 [Speaking of the Father] In this is love, not that we 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.
& 1 John 4:19 We love, because He first loved us.
The meaning of love
· Several Greek words for ‘love’
- Eros – passionate, romantic love reserved for a husband and a wife
- Phileo – warm, friendly or brotherly love;
- Agapao – setting your love and affection on someone; deliberately choosing to love one who is unworthy; to show preference; not self-seeking; deep and constant love that works itself out in actions.
- Phileo is loving someone who is easy to love, like two magnets that naturally attract; Agape is choosing to love someone, even when it’s not easy.
- & 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – Let’s use this passage as a quick test: are you more patient?
The magnitude of love
· ‘That you love one another’
· Each other; a mutual relationship; a community; Some people think, ‘I would love church if it wasn’t for all those people!’ Christians were not intended to be alone.
· This phrase is used at least 47x in the NT to describe how we are treat one another. E.g…
- Serve one another 1 Pet. 4:10
- Be kind to one another Eph 4:32
- Confess your sins to one another Jam. 5:16
- Bear one another’s burdens Gal. 6:2
- Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds Heb. 10:24
· The phrase ‘one another’ gives us a glimpse of what a healthy church should look like.
· It is all-inclusive. Not just people in your click; not just people who are easy to love. Some people who require more effort to love:
- Enemies - Luke 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
- Unattractive – don’t hate, but easier to stay away; uncomfortable, annoying
- Strangers – naturally gravitate toward friends; hospitality, greeting new visitors, members you don’t know
- Families – you can put on a ‘show’ at church, but your family sees the real ‘you.’ Would they describe you as patient, kind, etc.? Loving homes will result in a loving church; starts with husbands
- Needy – physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually
- Wayward – straying, brother stumbles, sinning; love is willing to follow the steps of confrontation found in Mt. 18
- Different – If you are young, love the old; If you love traditional hymns, for the sake of young people and the future of this church, be willing to expand your tastes in styles and praise songs. If you prefer more contemporary and upbeat music, learn to worship through the slower hymns as well. If you dress more formally, still accept those who dress casually. If you dress casually, don’t judge those who dress more formally. If you are healthy, visit the sick; if you are sick, encourage and pray for the healthy.
· Whitney: love and fellowship is like a bank account
The mission of love
· Rd. v. 35
· This is how the world will know you are a Christian, and this is how the world will know who Christ is. We are ambassadors of Christ. The world’s perception of the church will determine their perception of Christ.
· Mark Dever: “The ultimate goal of building this kind of community – one built on distinctively Christian love that flows from the distinctively Christian Gospel – is to display God’s glory throughout our surrounding neighborhoods, our cities, and ultimately the world…Our Christlike love for one another is intended by God to be the church’s most powerful tool for evangelism! [We should not depend on programs] The church itself is God’s evangelism program. The mutually loving relationships in the church are designed by God to be attractive to an unbelieving culture. [This love is] to characterize the church and glorify God [and] is at the same time intended to evangelize the world”
· The mandate of love is that we are commanded to do this; the model of love is Jesus Christ; the meaning of love is unselfish, sacrificial affection toward others; the magnitude of love is toward ‘one another’ – all people; the mission of love is to show the world who Jesus is, with the hope that many will be saved.
· Do you have this kind of love? It comes from Christ, and is a fruit of the Spirit
· If you know Christ, you’ve heard His command. Now, will you obey it? Will love become a distinguishing mark of your life? It’s going to be costly, embarrassing. It will make you vulnerable, and perhaps you will even be taken advantage of, but the cost is worth it.
· C. S. Lewis writes, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless— [your heart] will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable; impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.
· Let’s be willing to be vulnerable to one another, that our church become known as a refuge of love in this world.