“IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!” 1 John 4:7-21
INTRO – WOW. This has been a crazy week in our nation & in our world. From Charlottesville to Barcelona to Fortification Street, we continue to see the ongoing fruit of evil & sin proliferating across the world. And there are 2 words that we are hearing a lot these days: love & hate. Who would have thought last year when I was praying & thinking about what I needed to preach on at this time in this year that our nation would be in the turmoil that it’s in right now. God is sovereign & omniscient – meaning He knows everything. He knew then that we would need to focus now on His love more than ever. I told you a couple of weeks ago when I preached from 1 John 3:11-24 with the sermon entitled, “Love Requires Action,” that we would be revisiting the subject of love again, & here we are again. We just didn’t know even 2 weeks ago that this would be exactly what we need to focus on once again in our lives as Christ-followers. While people of every color, every political party, & every cultural viewpoint in our society vomit out their venom & scream at each other in anger, hatred, bitterness, & hostility, the Church MUST clearly, confidently, & committedly speak love into this melee & live love in front of a watching world. We simply do not have a choice as to whether or not we are going to do this. It is a clear command from the Lord, & to not do it shows that we do not truly know Christ. When the confrontations come to us – & they are going to come, whether on the street, at work, at school, or on social media – our response as Christians is clearly mandated for us in the Word of God, guidebook for life: LOVE ONE ANOTHER – PERIOD. The Church – the people of God – must stand against racism in every way, shape, & form. We have to lead the way & loving all people, regardless of anything in their lives that is different from us, or that we find offensive. For the committed Christ-follower, it’s not a matter of statues, monuments, flags, protests, marches, & in-your-face screaming. It’s a matter of Christ-honoring, Christ-exalting, Christ-imitating love.
As we look at this passage, we find that the word “love” is used 27 times! IT IS SO IMPORTANT! Can’t overemphasize it enough! So, using this passage & 2 others, we find these 4 elements of love:
THE DESCRIPTION OF LOVE – 1 Cor. 13:4-7 – There’s no better place in Scripture to get a perfect description of love than Paul’s hymn of love in 1 Cor. 13. In this well-known, well-loved passage, he gives some wonderful words to help us understand what agape love is all about.
- agape – God’s love. Only comes from him. Can’t be shown & practiced by a human unless we’ve first experienced it through His transformative work in our lives. Only as He is in us & works through us can we know & practice agape love.
There are 3 other Greek words that are used to describe different types of love:
- phileo – Only other type of love mentioned in Bible. Brotherly love. Shown in close friendships. Jonathan & David – great example of this kind of love. 1 Sam. 18:1, 3 – “…Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. . . . And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”
- eros – not mentioned in Bible – sexual love. Wonderful when expressed within marriage relationship between a man & a woman. Distorted & sinful when expressed outside of marriage.
- storge – natural love shown among families – parent to a child.
Back to 1 Cor. 13. Verses 4-7 give a great description of what agape love should look like in the life of a Christ-follower. EVERY Christ-follower should strive to live their lives in such a way that the word “love” could be replaced w/ your name & it would be a true statement about you. Then & only then could it be said of you that you were living a life of Christlike love. The description of love would then be a description of YOU, & God would be pleased & glorified.
The Deterioration of Love – 2 Tim. 3 – When we look around us & we see violence & all sorts of different forms of sexual immorality & racism & prejudice & abuse & on & on the list goes – we begin to realize that we may be in the last days that Paul was talking about in 2 Tim. 3. Billy Graham has…said he believes there are Biblical signs of the end times visible in the world today. Nearly 10 years ago, he wrote, “We see the storm clouds gathering and events taking place that herald the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
Of all the things that Paul listed in 2 Tim. 3, the thing that is most disturbing, alarming, & telling is the deterioration of love. Oh, love is still around & evident in these days. It’s just that that love is directed toward so many other things other than toward God.
- “lovers of self” – philautos
- “lovers of money” – philargyros
- “lovers of ” – “not lovers of good” – aphilagathos
- “lovers of pleasure” – philedonos
As we look at each of those words, we see something in common. The root of each of those is connected back to one of the 2 biblical words for “love” – phileo – the word for brotherly love, or the love between close friends.
- We’ve become best friends w/ our “self” & what we want & desire rather than what God wants & desires for our lives.
- We’ve become best friends w/ our money & our material possessions & the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. Instead of thinking about how to use our financial resources to further the work of God, we are consumed w/ how to use our money to further our fun & our selfish pursuits.
- We’ve become best friends w/ the wrong stuff, & enemies of the good stuff.
- We’ve become best friends w/ pleasure. Root word is the word from which we get “hedonism” – the belief that the pursuit of pleasure is the purpose of life.
Our world & even some Christians are consumed w/ loving so many other things other than loving God. The agape love that John is teaching about in 1 John 4 has been replaced by the different loves that Paul warns us about here. We see it everywhere!
- We love our skin color more than we love God.
- We love our way of life more than we love God.
- We love our heritage more than we love God.
- We love our human heroes more than we love God.
While the love for the things of the world accelerates, our love for God deteriorates.
Friends, we’ve got to stop this deterioration in our lives. Can’t do anything about the world. But we can & we MUST do something about the deterioration of love w/in the Body of Christ. We need to get back to the foundation & realize the depth of God’s love & how that translates into the duties of God’s love in our lives. Let’s finish by looking at those 2 elements of love:
THE DEPTH OF LOVE – v. 9-10 – C.R.A. – Cleveland Recreation Association – swimming pool. Had separate baby pools. Then 2 ft., 3 ft., 4 ft., then a wall (remember peering over that wall – “One day…”). Go around the wall – 5 ft., 6 ft., then a rope. Past the rope 10 ft. to 12 ft. Progress from baby pool all the way to the 12 ft. Finally able to climb the high dive & bail off into the deep end. What a rush!
Great picture of the Christian life! Baby pool – swimming lessons – steady progression into deeper & deeper water. Spiritually speaking, there are way too many folks who are stuck in the baby pool or the 2 ft. & are missing out on the joy & the rush of getting into the depths of God’s love! He sent His Son into the world that we might “live through Him!”
The Duties of Love – v. 7-8, 11-12 – Out of the depths of love flow our duties of love – to love others & show others what God’s love looks like.
It our everyday perspective – v. 7a
…changes our eternal destination – v. 7b
…our expressions of worship – v. 13 – Spirit is in us
…our explanation of why we do what we do – v. 14 – Jesus is our Savior.
…our established confession of faith – v 15-16 – our doctrine flows out of God’s agape
…our exhibition of courage – v. 18 – We don’t have to be afraid of God’s wrath & judgment
…our essential foundation of our lives – v. 19 – His love forms the foundation for everything we do in our lives.
…our experiences in human relationships w/ people who are like us & those who are not like us – v. 20-21 – To hate someone means that we simply have not had our lives transformed by the love of God.