Believe in Love
Pastor Terry Inman
We have ten shopping day left until Christmas. Buying all these presents is how we show our love right. Well just decide not to get your loved ones something for Christmas and see how that works out for you.
We are pretty good about turning on the love at Christmas. I have seen more diamond commercials the last few days than any other time of the year. You can watch a romantic holiday movie on the Hallmark channel almost every night. We don’t think much about love on Halloween. What makes Christmas such a warm and fuzzy love fest?
Newborn babies delight everyone. They are full of innocence and promise.
The first Christmas was all about God’s gift to the world. He gift wrapped his own son in human skin and delivered him in the arms of a Jewish girl.
According to the bible God is love. Love is his intrinsic nature. He is love personified. On Christmas God laid his love on the doorstep of the world.
Matthew tells the story with angels, shepherds, kings and a young couple in an animal shelter giving birth to a baby boy.
Then he says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” Matt. 1.22
Love is more than presents it his presence! It is as if God was saying, "I have tried laws and I have tried prophets. I’ve tried wisdom. It hasn’t really gotten the message of my love across. I’m going to come in a way that will be remembered forever and ever.
Probably the most quoted verse in the bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”(John 3.16 NIV)
So on that first Christmas, Mary and Joseph celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. And just to show you how effective God’s strategy has been, all across the face of the earth this Christmas in hundreds of different languages and dialects, the baby Jesus will be the focus of – God’s love entering the human scene. A new poll says, 80% of Americans believe Christmas should be more focused on the birth of Jesus!
Unfortunately after we unwrap the gifts, take down the tree and turn out the Christmas lights, it’s all too easy to leave God’s love behind until next season. God’s love is not seasonal it is sacrificial and enduring.
John, who is called the Apostle of love, describes God’s love this way. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4.7-8 NIV)
Love is far more than human affection. Love originates with God. This capacity to love is from God. It is not an innate human quality. We are not necessary born with it nor do we really learn it. We acquire it from God. We are spiritually born to love like God loves.
In fact love is evidence that we really know God or have a genuine relationship with God. Am I saying that people who don’t know God are incapable of love? No many people are very loving toward family and friends. Many are also very caring and generous toward humanity.
John is talking here about the highest quality of spiritual and selfless love; called (agapeœ). You have heard me quote this definition. “Love is the accurate estimate and the adequate supply of another need.”
The bible mentions too other kinds of love that are more common to humanity. Eros is a Greek term that means desire and longing. It is typically associated with strong feelings, passions and attractions.
It is both emotional and physical. God gave us this gift to be attracted and bonded to a marriage partner. However unless it matures it can become self-gratifying, possessive and destructive.
Philo is a unique kind of love like the one you have for a companion or a best friend. It refers to loving one another just like your brother or sister. This love is characterized by various shared experiences between people.
This is the kind of love that many Christians tend to practice towards one another. And although philos love is really wonderful it too can become self-centered and limited to good feelings that wane over time and tests.
I don’t go to movies often. But last week my brother, a couple sons and I did a guys night out to see “Interstellar”. It’s a three-hour adventure that transcends space, time and gravity in search of a new home for humanity.
Cooper a NASA pilot and Dr. Brand a female astrophysicist have a conversation about love. Cooper already lost his wife. His motivation isn’t necessarily to save humanity it to save his family from a dying earth.
Dr. Brand wants to reach a habitable planet in the next galaxy where her former lover was stranded in an earlier mission. With limited time and fuel this may be too risky. Another potential habitable planet is much closer.
They are all motivated by different kinds of love for family and humanity.
In the middle of this voyage into unknown dimensions of time and gravity, they launch this conversation into the science of love.
Pilot Cooper questioning Dr. Brand’s “love will find a way” reasoning, says: “You’re a scientist, Brand.” She responds: “So listen to me when I say love isn’t something that we invented. It’s observable. Powerful. It has to mean something.
Cooper is pragmatic. He says, “Love has meaning, yes, social utility, social bonding, child-rearing.” Brand comes back. “You love people who died. Where’s the social utility in that?” Cooper answers: “None”.
Dr. Brand continues her love logic. “Maybe love means something more — something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive.
I’m drawn across the universe to someone I haven’t seen in a decade, who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing that we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it. All right the tiniest possibility of seeing Wolf again excites me. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Does love help them find a way to transcend time and gravity and find a home for humanity. You’ll have to find out for yourself. I just thought it was an unusual conversation in the middle of movie that’s getting great reviews for its complex somewhat believable scientific space technology.
Agape love is from another world another dimension. Humans are capable of it, but it’s origins are divine. It was only a movie but Dr. Brand’s line on love is right, “love isn’t something we invented it transcends time and space.” It’s otherworldly. It is God given. It isn’t necessarily physical or emotional it is spiritual. Agape love is totally selfless and others directed.
John the Apostle explains how God expressed His love. 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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4.9-10 NIV)
Bob Goff, in the best seller, Love Does, says “love is not stationary,in the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.”
He continues, “The kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It's a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.”
The nativity story is wonderful and heartwarming; babies, animals, angels, sheepherders and sages, all are the stuff of a touching narrative. But God’s love is portrayed not so much in the manger as it is on the cross.
The key description of this love is sacrifice. We buy a lot of gifts at Christmas. It’s a good thing. Anytime we can think of someone other than ourselves it’s a good thing. But I doubt we could call our giving, sacrifice.
Joseph is a great human example of self-sacrificing love. I’m sure he had a deep affection for Mary. The bible says, He considered a private split-up so she did not have to experience the typical public shame.
But his love for God motivated him to do the right thing. He was totally obedient to the instructions he received in his angelic dream. The angel told him not to be afraid but go-head with the next step in the Marriage.
“take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1.21
He woke up and love made his dream a reality. He even delayed intimacy with her until after the baby was born. That is real love. His sacrificed his needs, his comfort and even his reputation. He also acted on the angel’s warning to relocate his home, his job and his family to Egypt for the child’s protection. Real love of isn’t always convenient.
The Apostle continues this conversation on God’s love. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4.11-12 NIV)
To genuinely believe in love we must respond in three ways. First we need to be thoroughly convinced of his unconditional love for us. John said, This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Love initiates sacrifice.
God gave up someone he loved dearly, His only son. Jesus paid the ultimate price; He sacrificed his life for ours. John said, “He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
Secondly we need to love God in return. Just as Joseph did we need to make His plans and purposes the priority of our life. The great commandment says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10.27 NIV)
This leads me to the third way we can express our belief in love. Loving others as he loves us. Again John puts it this way. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4.11-12 NIV) God is love--He is visible when we share his love.
We are not capable of selfless love until we personally experience God’s love. Earlier we read this. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. To be “born of God” and to “know God” is to experience our spiritual rebirth and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1Pet. 1.3 NIV)
When we believe in God--we believe in love. Here’s how to express our belief. The bible says, “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10.9 NIV)
Let’s affirm our belief today.