1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is Love.”
There are some quite tragic accounts about in the world, where a man and a woman are in love... the man is a Christian, the woman is an atheist, but the man decides he can’t be with her because it could mar his relationship with God and his religion. They’re both really sad for the rest of their lives following that, wondering all the time what it might have been like had it worked out between them, of if He would just give up his religion, or made some compromise.
There’s another story too... Another man and another woman are in love, the woman is a Christian, and so is the man, but the man is a divorcee, and so the woman decides it would be against the wishes of her God that she should be with this man, and that it would be blatant adultery. So the two live the rest of their lives in misery wondering what it could have been like had everything worked out alright.
These two stories are tragic right?
You know what I’m going to say right? I’m going to tell you that God is much more important that fulfilling all your selfish lusts. That’s what I’m going to say isn’t it?
No you are wrong!
Now I have shocked you!
In the first story the man should have stayed with the woman, and in the second story the woman should have stayed with the man.
Now you are thinking that Michael Buckingham has gone crazy... maybe he doesn’t even believe the Bible any more... could it be that Michael thinks that sensual love is more important that the love of God.
No. I’m not crazy. I do believe the Bible. And the love of God is far higher than and sensual love could ever be.
So it seems that I have made some kind of logical error?
You see, in both the first and the second stories, neither the man of the woman had the love of God. They would never think back over a sensual marriage, Lot’s wife looked back... looking back is a sure sign that you are not really saved and you are still part of the world from which you have just left.
Before I go on, I would just like to clarify that it is an admirable thing for a sinner to live as a Christian, but to say you love God and you don’t that is a lie.
So let me rewrite those two stories where the spouse really does love God.
There is a man and a woman who think that they are in love... Christians often get mistaken, but this kind of love is no love at all.
The man is a Christian, the woman is an atheist. The choice is extremely heart-rending, but because of the man’s love towards God, he is able to make the right choice and he parts ways with the woman before any kind of immorality occurs.
Time goes by, sure the man thinks about his former lover, but he never regrets his decision, because although, he never married in the end, he found where true love lives, in the bosom of love itself: GOD.
Remember our text? “God is love”
I’ll let you rewrite the second story in your own time.
On my mind for quite some time now, is what it says in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always”. Always? That’s kind of hard to do isn’t it... don’t you sometimes feel down, and sad? But God said we have to be joyful all of the time. It was actually Paul that wrote the words but as we know all scripture is inspired by God.
SO here’s how we rejoice all the time, how we can be continuously happy: We think about God’s love all the time... love is never a sad thing is it?
How do we think about God all the time? That’s easy! Everything in this world should be able to remind us of God, because it was He who created all things... so right here right now, what can you see? Can you see your fingers? Can you see the sky? Trees? Are you breathing air? Yes it’s all made by God. If you are alive it’s only because of God and his undying love... so we have always something that will remind us of God, and because we are always thinking about God, we cannot but be happy can we?
So there’s 3 aspects of love that I would like to focus on today:
1. God’s love to us
2. Our love to God
3. Our love to other people
So firstly, God’s love to us.
SO how much really does God love us?
Much more than you or I can even imagine... the English language cannot do the love of God justice... the Greek language as I understand had multiple words for love, but yet it could still not do justice to the love of God.
The last part of Romans 8 has a great description of the Love of God, I advise you to read it through some time.
Maybe you have been in a similar situation to me.
There was a girl that I really liked, I wanted to marry her, but the thing is, I wanted to know if she felt the same way about me.
But that was the problem, how can you tell how much someone likes you.
To tell a person’s weight you put them on a weighing scale.
To tell a person’s height, you get a measuring tape.
But there is no such measurement for love.
But you can get some kind of idea about a person’s love for you by how much they would do for you.
Well, needless to say, it didn’t work out between me and this girl, it seemed that she probably wouldn’t go to the end of the world and back for me, and it seems that I wouldn’t for her either.
So let’s have a look at God’s love to us... how far would God go to show his love to us?
We could not begin to imagine... God is God, and God lives in Heaven, God has everything He wants when He wants, He even created the world for His own glory, man was created for His glory. Yet God leaves all that behind, and lives like a humble human being, he is born in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn... He has the lowliest birth imaginable.
His earthly father Joseph is a carpenter, so he didn’t have much disposable income... so Jesus is definitely poor.
What a drop from being supreme God of the universes!
That’s real love isn’t it?
You know if someone were to do that for me, I would love them forever and ever and ever!
But that’s not all God did for us... and this part is so unimaginable: God, who is sinless and perfect, took upon Himself all our sins and failings, and bore them all away on the cross, and dying paid the penalty that we should have paid.
And praise be to God! We are free of sin, and God has purchased our souls to reign with Him in glory!
That’s the most beautiful act of love EVER!
Beats bringing flowers home to the wife doesn’t it?
So that’s something of God’s love to us, I don’t think I even touched a drop in the ocean of all that God’s love is about... but if you want to learn more about God’s love, I endure you to read more of your Bible, perhaps you might find a study Bible of some use.
So now we come to the second point of my sermon on LOVE.
The Second point is our love to God.
We are a fallen depraved people we sin as if we are breathing, every breath seems to be dedicated to the devil and our own selfish lusts.
We are utterly incapable of any kind of love.
But if you were listening to the last section of my sermon, you might have noticed that God bore our sins away on the Cross. So now we are saved.
God has made a show of love to us, in taking our sins, and in so doing has given us the means whereby to love Him in return.
So God has given us that initial ability to love Him, but we still have a small part to play... we have to practice loving Him.
Here’s how: we read in our Bible about how God loved us, we meditate upon it day and night, every thought should be on the love of God... and in thus feeling loved, we in return love him.
Have you ever met someone that think you are just so amazing, who dearly loves you, perhaps a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or maybe a son or daughter. They like you so much, and although you don’t “naturally” like them, because they think the world of you, you begin also to think the world of them.
It’s kind of like that with God, but in no way did we deserve to be loved so much... God loved us in spite of all our sins and backslidings.
So now we have looked at the love of God to us, then we looked at our love to God, so now we come to our 3rd and final point:
Our love to other people.
O wait just 1 sec... just before we look at that, just going back to our love to God, we can show our love to God by obeying His commandments, read 1 John if you have the time.
So back to our love to other people.
What is the greatest commandment? Jesus tells us in the Gospel doesn’t he? The greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy hear and with all thy soul, and the second greatest command is like it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
SO this is the second greatest command to love other people... if you study the teachings of Jesus you will find that this refers to the love of both Christians and non-Christians.
Now, just to clarify, when it says that we ought to love non-Christians it does not mean that we can intermarry with them... a Christian should only marry a Christian.
But what it does mean is that we should be kind to non-Christians, we should even listen to their point of view even though we do not agree. We listen out of respect, and then we tell them that we disagree, and calmly tell them about Jesus.
We do not have fellowship with Non-Christians, that is not how we show our love. We show our love to a non-Christian when we tell that about what it is that has made our life so much better: Jesus. We love them so much that we want to give them that best of gifts: Jesus!
And then our love to Christians is so important... we could so easily miss out our fellowship with the people of God by spending so much time with non-believers, even if we are always telling them about Christ.
We need that special time when we can just talk to another Christian about how much we love Jesus.
And remember the more time we spend reading the Bible, which is the one book in the world that talks about PURE love. The more time we spend reading this special book, the more we will start loving as we begin to understand what love is.
God changes a man’s heart in a nano-second, but it takes a lifetime to change his lifestyle.
Well we have only briefly touched on the matter of love... but this sermon will not be my only chance to demonstrate to others the greatness of love... I can show love every day, every waking moment, by the way I live. Yes, My lifestyle can be a manifestation of God’s love!
Well, I hope this sermon has been of some edification to someone.