Love Is All We Need

Posted by | August 02, 2018 | Ministry | No Comments

Is Love All We Need?

When your kids are home all summer long, it means one thing: lots of wrestling. For my 4 year old, Luke, wrestling means I lay on the floor and he climbs all over me. The other day, he stopped for a second, wrapped his arms around my neck and said, “Daddy, I love you.”

This got me thinking: How do we know that God — our HEAVENLY Father — loves us? How do you know how you are doing in your relationship with God? These are questions that we all ask both directly and indirectly.

“GOD!? Why don’t you love me!?”

My family always went to church when I was growing up. It was like the thing we did every Sunday. We go to church, and then we went to go get Whoppers from Burger King. The two for $5 special. Oh, we were super healthy on Sundays.

Every Sunday, I always heard the same thing — or maybe, I chose to hear this — was to follow these rules, obey these laws, obey God and He’ll love you. Like, a game of Jesus Says. Like Simon Says, except there’s more at stake.

Jesus says don’t curse. Jesus says work hard. Jesus says give to the poor….and then you will be loved.

Today, I want to answer these questions. How do I know that God loves me? How do I know where I stand with God? Because for years I had this wrong.

This message doesn’t seem to be something we can stay positive with. This seems like a negative one. But see, there is a difference between Law vs Love. There is a difference between rules and relationship.

To take a deeper dive into these meanings, I want to look at writings of one of Jesus’s closest followers. John was known as “the one that Jesus loved” or “Jesus’s beloved”. John was very close to Jesus during His life, so early Christians looked to him for direction and guidance.

John wrote the letter that we are going to look at today, called 1 John, to address some of the people in the local church, a church like ours, who had left the church because of disagreements in doctrine, ethics, or some combination of them.

Basically, the church had some issues because they are people. The church historically and currently has problems working together because people often have a hard time loving other people while still disagreeing with them. Seems to be something within the human condition — this all-or-nothing mentality.

One of the things that I love about Shift and love being part of leading us is that we can have disagreements and still know that we love each other and never question that love. And John is sharing that this is part of how the Church should be.

Let’s dig in:

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.

Jesus’s death was not the end of His ministry, but it was a move to a new position. Now Jesus serves as an advocate for us with God. What does an advocate do? An advocate speaks, pleads, or mediates on our behalf. Jesus is now representing us to the Father. He’s saying, “Father…look at me, not at them.”

2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

Jesus’ perfect obedience and sacrifice in death satisfied God’s demand for justice because of our sin. That’s called propitiation — or atonement. Jesus’s perfect obedience to God gives Him the ability to take our place and become our advocate.

Not just for us, though; for everyone! The whole world. Everyone is someone who Jesus died for. Yes, even that person that you don’t like. Yes, even the one who did you wrong. Yes, even the one who supports different things than you do. Everyone is someone in the eyes of Jesus.

3 This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.

I love how John writes this. John sees following Jesus as being in relationship with Him. Most people can relate to the concept of being in a relationship: We know each other. We believe in each other. We love each other. And how do we know that we are in relationship with Jesus? We keep His commands.

What were Jesus’ commands?

Love God. Love Other People. Tell Everyone.

It’s just that simple. Tell everyone to become His disciples and to follow Him.

Jesus said, “In the same way that I love you, you love one another. This is how people will know that you belong to Me.”

4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: 6 The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.

In other words, Obeying Jesus = Love for God. A follower of Jesus is not just a talker; a follower of Jesus is a doer. Jesus isn’t just asking you to do just anything, just to keep the peace, or follow a procedure: that’s what law and rules do.

No, obeying him means to become more and more like Him, to walk just as He walked, and to love others like He Loved Us! That’s what relationship is all about. That’s what love does.

How do you know that God loves you? John is saying, Our relationship with God is measured by our relationship with others. This is the measuring stick we need to use. We gather at Shift on Sunday mornings for one hour. but, what do your other 167 hours look like?

Want to know how you are doing in your relationship with God? Look at how are you doing at loving who He loves. ALL those people He loves. Are you loving them and are you loving them well?

I certainly don’t want Shift to be just another church that has an awesome service and then forgets about the rest of the week. The church I want to pastor loves people well not only during the hour on Sunday but throughout the other six days of the week. We have 168 hours every week to obey Jesus. I want us to gather during hour 168 to celebrate the relationships we’ve made and strengthened during the other 167 hours!

John continues verse 7,

7 Dear friends (this is translated literally as Beloved or those that are loved by God through Jesus), I am not writing you a new command but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

The old command is the old testament — a message the first church had heard before, but the new command (or new testament) through Jesus…is to Love God. Love other people. Tell everyone. If you do those things, then you’ll fulfill the old commands as well.

And Jesus is the true light and darkness no longer has any victory because of what Jesus has done. Jesus wins. End of Story.

But, then John emphasized something significant again. When your teacher repeats something, pay attention. It’s probably going to be on the exam.

9 The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Remember, our relationship with God is measured by our relationship with others. This is our gauge. It’s no longer about the law, and how you’re doing at following the rules. Now? It’s about love and relationships.

You see, Love is simpler than the Law, but asks so much more from you. Love is harder than following rules that you can check off. Rules and the law usually have a right or wrong answer.

Loving people doesn’t, and it can be challenging. Jesus said Love God and love other people. Even those different than you. Even the one that has done you wrong. Even when it’s hard.

John wrote some more on love to bring more clarity in the letter. In chapter 4 starting in verse 7,

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

God is love. God loved us well went He sent Jesus.

Maybe, you have never put your faith in Jesus and the love that God offers us. Maybe, this is a day of you being loved well by the one who created you. God’s love is already offered for you — that happened when He sent Jesus!

Maybe, today for you has been somewhat of a challenge. Not because you don’t want to love people, not because you don’t care, but maybe for you there is no margin. Maybe, this summer you said yes to too many things and you’re all tapped out to love anyone else this week, especially those who aren’t easy to love.

But now it’s time to re-focus and evaluate what you will do with your other 167 hours in the week this fall.

God loves you. You love others.

How will you accomplish that? Take a look at your schedule and see if you’ve built time into our schedules to intentionally love people with your families. If you haven’t, then start now, and start close. Love people near you. Love your neighbor. But, I think love is asking more of us.

I think love means to sacrifice. Love lays down ourselves. Love picks up a cross. So the question that I want you to think over this week is…

What does Love ask of me?

Are we willing to love God, love others, and tell everyone, not because we are good, but because God is love. And He loved us well when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ.

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