Series: The Names of God
Aired: Sunday Nov 25 2012
Title: “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE”
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is the truest expression of the Christian life, but for many of us, it is the area that we lack the most in. With the hectic pace and pressures today, we can become so preoccupied with our own world that we fail to love one another. This week, Author and Bible teacher, Charles Price, presents a single message about love that is absolutely fundamental to the working of God in our lives; so much so, that anything done without love negates the purpose and validity of it.
There are many passages in Scripture that speak of loving one another. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” (Romans 13:8). “…Love one another deeply from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22). “Let us love one another, for love comes from God” (1 John 4:7). Loving one another is essential to the outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1-3, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
In our society, the word ‘love’ covers a multitude of things with varying connotations. To say, “I love my wife” would be far different from saying, “I love chocolate” or “I love my car.” In the Greek translation of the Bible, the word ‘love’ is also multi-faceted and uses three different words to describe it. “Eros”, is used for romantic love or sexual attraction. It’s where our English word ‘erotic’ comes from. The word ‘phileo’ is to have warm affection and friendship towards one another. The city of Philadelphia consists of two Greek words – philea and delphia, which means brotherly love. The third word is ‘agape’, and speaks of the love of God, which is the highest love; one that is freely given and does not depend on being reciprocated.
One of the best definitions of ‘agape’ love is found in Philippians 2:2-4 where Paul writes, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (NAS). This is a love that puts the needs of others first, is conceived in humility and born of the Spirit of Christ.
Paul writes this letter to the Corinthian church, clarifying the love of Christ, because they were likely the most immature in both their need for love and of loving one another. Numerous problems existed, especially one of division. Some were saying they follow Paul; others were saying they follow Apollos; others following Cephas (Peter) and still others following Christ. Paul answers them. “Is Christ divided? Was I crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” In other words, “You folks are experiencing quarrels among you because you have aligned yourselves to personalities, and when you do that, you have division.” Defining ourselves by who we like and support will create divisions. The Christian church is defined by the centrality of Jesus Christ and by the work of the Holy Spirit, following God’s agenda. Love derives from Christ, Himself, being Lord amongst His people, who are His church.
Paul said to the church in Corinth, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:27). Paul consistently talks about Christ, the power of His resurrection, how to grow in Him and know Him better. He talks about being reconciled to God through Christ and about His indwelling Spirit working in us and through us. Anything other than Christ that becomes the criteria will divide, because that only leaves us with different opinions and preferences which conflict each other.
The Corinthian church also had a problem with discipline. There was sexual immorality, suing each other in court, getting drunk and feasting at the Lord’s Supper, which is meant to be a meaningful tribute in memory of Christ. They were fighting over spiritual gifts that were not demonstrated in love. They were withholding financial contributions, and in doing so, were saying, “God, you can have my life, but not my money.”
They were also arguing over their doctrine and neglecting some of the most fundamental essentials of the Christian church. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” They needed to understand this, prioritize it and know that it is the life of the risen Lord who indwells them. In the heart of his letter, Paul says, “But unless what you do is an expression of love, all it will be is a noise; empty, clanging cymbals that will accomplish nothing.
The ultimate expression of love is godliness, and that is because God is love. Paul describes love as patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1Corininthians 13:4-8). Were we to replace the word ‘love’ with Jesus Christ and say, “Jesus Christ is patient and kind. He does not envy, He does not boast….” that would stand up wonderfully true, but how would we fare were we to replace the world ‘love’ with our own name?
Love is the fruit of the Spirit Christ is intent on producing in us. The effectiveness of the Church of Jesus Christ is not measured by the fact we have programs and strategies in place, or even money contributed to worthy causes. It is measured by the fact we do these things in love for others, and people are not becoming the beneficiaries of a hundred dollar cheque or a new coat or a prayer book as much as they are becoming a beneficiary of Christ’s love.
Juan Carlos Ortis was a pastor of a church in Buenos Aries with a membership of 300 that had grown rapidly to a membership of 1,000 people. But one day, while driving past a cemetery, Pastor Ortiz realized that the church wasn’t actually growing, but simply getting fat. He said something to the effect that the church used to have 300 unloving Christians, but now they have 1,000 unloving Christians and all that is is spiritual obesity.
He had prepared a message on love, but began to feel quite strongly that he shouldn’t deliver it. Instead, he stood at the pulpit and said, “Brothers and sisters, my text this morning is “Love One Another”. He remained there for two minutes without saying another word. Then he closed his Bible and sat back down. Two minutes later, he stood up, repeated the same words and sat down again. He did it a third time and the congregation felt uncomfortable. Then someone turned to the person seated beside him, and whispered, “Is there some way I can love you? Is there something I could do for you?” Then someone else turned to someone beside them, and before you knew it, the whole church came alive with people talking.
Twenty-eight unemployed people went home with jobs that day. Single parents went home with another family prepared to help them out. Though the church had lost 300 people, Pastor Ortiz felt he didn’t have the freedom to preach a sermon yet, and persevered with the same message for three months. Then came the announcement of a new message, which received applause. “Love Your Neighbour As Yourselves”. Again, he closed his Bible and sat down. Someone got up and went out the door. Others followed until the entire church was empty. These people had driven home, knocked on their neighbour’s door and began to help them out in whatever way they could. This had a tremendous impact in the community and completely changed the role of the church. Calls kept coming in. “Is this the church that cares about people?”
Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:46-47) Jesus loved everyone, and it is His love in us that must flow through us to touch and transform the lives of those around us.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” - John 13:34 .
This message is from the site: http://www.livingtruth.ca/
By: Charles Price from Living truth.