Peninsula Community Church
July 22, 2012
Displaying the Life of Christ – Does Anyone Know What Love Is?
In 1984 the British rock band Foreigner had a number one hit with their song “I Wanna know What Love Is.” In the song Lou Gramm, the lead singer, popularized the concept of wanting to know “what love is?” Listen to a couple of the lines of the song:
I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
In case I need it when I’m older
Now this mountain I must climb
Feels like a world upon my shoulders
And through the clouds I see love shine
It keeps me warm as life grows colder
In my life there’s been heartache and pain
I don’t know if I can face it again
Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
To change this lonely life
I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is
I know you can show me
Do you hear the resounding need for understanding what real and genuine love is? In this song Foreigner was referring to physical and intimate love but none-the-less there was a passionate plea to understand the depth of real love. Today, we are living in world where people seek to know and understand real and authentic love.
For us this morning, as we turn to the book of first John we see that John gives us a definition of love and what love truly and honestly can be for us. Let’s read together: 1 John 4:7-12 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have 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. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
If you will allow me to, let us unpack the truth that is contained in this passage so that our insight into what real, genuine love is can be enhanced and properly motivated.
To begin with John states that God is love. Notice that this passage is similar to the passage John writes in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God’s very nature and who He is can be only understood through the fact that “God is love.”
What John is prescribing to is that everything that God does is from a perspective of love and grace. Every action that He performs is mitigated by one absolute value and that is His love for His creation. It is important to note that He doesn’t just love but He is love. In other words, if you want to understand what true love is you must look to God who exemplifies the very nature of what love is. Love pervades and influences all of his attributes. Just as much as He is holy, righteous and just He is also love.
Secondly, the greatest manifestation of this love is seen through sending His son to earth to become the sacrificial Lamb of God. This was a mission established by God and freely and willingly accepted by Christ. He chose to die for us. This is the ultimate sign of love. Listen to the Apostle Paul’s words: For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).
Notice the key in this passage. There might be one or two of us that would consider dying for a righteous person or for one of our loved ones but I would dare say that none of us would even consider dying for someone as evil as Hitler or Osama Bin Ladin. He even died for James Holmes the shooter at the theater in Colorado. But Christ did. He died for them although they have rejected that gift and blessing. And, He died for us even before we committed our first sin.
It is interesting to note that there have been many stories that have come out of the tragedy in Colorado where people put themselves in harm’s way by placing their bodies over their friends and relatives. Some of these were wounded as a result. One story told of one girl who placed her hand over the wound of her friend even though she was in the line of fire.
A second key is that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross deals with a dilemma forced upon Him by His very nature. How does a just and righteous God deal with sin? How does one that cannot overlook or trivialize sin deal with the gravity of sin and the depth of the depravity of mankind? He deals with sin by sending His son to die and to take on our sin upon the cross so that every sin past, present and future will be forever dealt with as we bend our knee in humble repentance and Godly sorrow for the sin we have committed.
Thirdly John insists that we are to love one another because of God’s love expressed toward us and the fact that He sent His son to die for us upon the cross. This kind of love is characterized by unselfishness by way of considering others above ourselves and by humility and consideration of others. In fact, our love for God will be directly proportionate to our love for others. What is stated here is that we cannot carry hatred in our hearts and claim to love God with all of our hearts. This does not mean that we will not carry disappointment and concern in our heart but true love comes from God and is worked out in the way we love others.
Let me take this one step further. Because it is impossible to see God because of His glory, God devised a plan where we would be the carriers of His love. As we accept Christ as our personal Savior and we are filled with His great love, we should begin to exude love in all that we do. The fact is, we may become the only Jesus that some will see. By our actions, our words and our very lives we present Jesus to those who do not know Him.