Today we began a new series about love. Pastor Miles shared his passion for the church to understand this topic very well, because it is the very heart of God and the most powerful thing you can say or give to another person. Loving others means having an esteemed view of them, being willing to care for and protect them, and having their best interests at heart.
Key Passages: 1 John 4:7-21, Matthew 22:37-40, 1 John 5:3, John 13:35
Love is Misunderstood - confused with lust and feelings - Christians have lost Jesus’ vision and teaching on love. (It is not our most defining characteristic.)
Love is Deceptive - a manufactured feeling - Conditional, distorted and dysfunctional loves cause incredible hurt and pain.
Love is Fleeting - satisfies our immediate needs – It is conditional; not given to those who offend or frustrate us or cannot give love back.
In the end, God’s love really does change lives, nurture commitment, and win over hate. In this series we will learn about applying love in all our relationships, how to overcome, feeling unlovable or damaged, and the victory of God’s love through the Easter story.
God’s love is consistent whether or not we love Him back. This is the way that He desires us to love others – unconditionally.
God’s agape love is: unconditional loving kindness without borders with which proceeds from esteemed principal or duty rather than attraction and harm. It is love that is undeserved and consistent, despite disappointment and rejection. It is being charitable, hospitable, committed, self-sacrificial, and unselfish. God’s love is consistent whether or not we love Him back, whether we are cute or not, and whether we treat people well or not. This is the way that He desires us to love others – unconditionally.
In 1 John 4:7-21, the word love appears 21 times. This is because John is writing to a church that is experiencing a lot of division and false teaching. He focuses on the topic of love because it is the most basic, unifying thing about the Christian faith; whether or not we can agree on anything else, in the end it is the most central truth to which we as Christ-followers need to be committed with whole-hearted understanding.
1. Love is the heart of God. 1 John 4:8
It is important for us to have a clear picture of what love is. It is not a feeling, but rather the heart of God, the passion to bless someone, looking past the junk in a person’s life and still accept and love him/her with compassion.
God is the standard of love because God is love and he cannot contradict himself. God is the absolute, universal standard of love. 1 John 4:8
The basic standard of love is God’s heart. Have God’s heart toward someone means taking on His passion for that person to become everything God desires him/her to be and to be willing to sacrifice for the person as God would. Wherever you go throughout your day – school, the store, work, ask God to show you people as He sees them.
God’s love is eternal. Psalm 103:17
God’s love compels us. We can only love because God has first loved us. 1 John 4:19
You can’t love others without God. You can have another distorted version of love, but the only way to truly love is because God loved you first.
God’s love invites us into relationship. 1 John 3:1
2. To love God is to imitate the heart of God. Matthew 22:37-40, John 13:35, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is the heart of God. To love God is not to come to church, sing songs to Him, or read your Bible. You can do all of these things out of habit and still not love God. Rather, God wants us to be compelled to do these things out of the love in our hearts for Him.
If we love God, then we will love others. God loves every person – even the one that irritates you the most. Ask Him to give you His heart for understanding others and loving them as He would.
You cannot love God and hate people. 1 John 4:20-21
Have you ever said you hate someone and at the same time still feel that you love God? The Bible would call you a liar. Be confronted with that truth in these moments of ill thoughts toward others, because God desires that you love them.
If you love God, you must love your brother. Is there someone in your life that is hard to love? That’s where your Christianity is measured. Ask God to give you His heart, passion, patience, kindness, and self-sacrificial commitment for that person. God will be pleased that you are asking and are willing to be challenged.
A disciple of God must be a disciple of love. John 13:35
Saying you go to Rock Church or to Bible study means absolutely nothing when it comes to your identity in Christ. People can do those things and still have no love, but expressions of God’s love are what actually matter. Ask Him, "Lord, whom do you want me to see and express your love to?. God can give you insight; maybe they are hurt or scared. Can you comfort them? Can you encourage them?
3. To love others is to encourage them to imitate the heart of God. 1 John 5:3, Matthew 22:37-40
When you love someone, it doesn’t mean that you do what s/he asks of you, but rather that you help him/her imitate the heart of God and that you want the same things for that person as God wants.
Imitating God is the definition of loving God. He desires that all of us would be in sync with His heart. He loves you, sacrifices for you, and wants a relationship with you. He was so committed to you that He sent His Son to die on the cross to forgive your sin as a demonstration of His love.
God created your heart to receive His love and to emulate His love toward others. Have you let Him in? Will you let His love reach out through you?
Do people imitate the heart of God because of your life? 1 John 5:3