Sunday, February 11, 2018
Winter/Spring Sermon Series: Experiencing God for Such a Time as This
Displaying Our Love for God: Love Each other
ILL: A University professor at a well-known institution of higher learning challenged his students with this question. "Did God create everything that exists?"
A student bravely replied, "Yes he did!" God created everything?" The professor asked.
“Yes sir, he certainly did," the student replied.
The professor answered, "If God created everything; then God created evil. And, since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are, then we can assume God is evil."
The student became quiet and did not answer the professor’s hypothetical definition. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said, "May I ask you a question, professor?"
"Of course,", replied the professor.
The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course, it exists. Have you never been cold?" The other students snickered at the young man’s question.
The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 F) is the total absence of heat; and all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."
The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does."
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally, the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course, as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily examples of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
The professor sat down....
The young man’s name -- Albert Einstein
John 13:31-35 “When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves Lev. 19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished.
The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.
This was to surmount all distinction of country, of color, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare. and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ.
This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried; for he immediately adds, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
1 John 3:16 it is said that “we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for Christians, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.
If the description by Albert Einstein shows that God’s love is absent of evil then we are called to love as God does, without evil towards each other, for God is love and we know God has no evil in Him or around Him.
1. LOVING ONE ANOTHER IS A RESPONSE TO GOD LOVING US
1 John 4:7-11 “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.”
Displaying love for God requires a faithful confession of Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Love completes the picture of a life in fellowship with God. Love is a significant, tangible, outpouring of one truly being born again.
A person who lacks love shows him/herself to be unchanged at the core of his/her being by the gospel message. God continually gives of Himself to others and seeks their best interests. There was an eternal love between the persons of the Trinity even before the world was created and God’s love is the ultimate source of any love Christian are able to display.
“Love is more than a characteristic of God; it is God’s character.”
2. LOVING ONE ANOTHER DEMONSTRATES GOD’S EXISTENCE
1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
God is Spirit and is invisible unless He chooses to reveal Himself. Humans cannot look at God and live. However, Jesus is in intimate relationship with the Father, face-to-face with God. God became visible to man in the man Jesus. It is through seeing Jesus the we see God.
3. LOVING ONE ANOTHER IS AN EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY
1 John 3:10-11 “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
Matt. 7:16 – “You will recognize them by their fruits.”
Loving one another, in action, is the ethical barometer of what people really believe, no matter what they may say.
One of the biggest responses of people that we share the plan of salvation with, is that they cannot understand how he can forgive the despicable things that they have done. How can anyone forgive a murderer? An adulteress? A thief? A liar? The things that people could never forgive? And it truly is amazing at how he can forgive like this! But none the less- he does
We should be like God and show forgiveness—Love one another-
ILL: A survey of 8,600 people from congregations in 39 different denominations measured their `love quotient’. The conclusion - growing churches are more loving to each other and to visitors than declining churches. Loving churches attract more people regardless of their theology, denomination or location. Barna research 1996
Love is defined as a strong affection, desire or devotion. So why is it exactly that we say things like, “I love my wife’s asparagus?” or “I love watching football!” Should we really use a word o f this magnitude for such ‘things’? Like the Dallas Cowboys? Vegetables?
I think that somewhere we have diluted the true meaning of this beautiful word. So, this morning, I would like to go to the authority o f love, God, and his word to clearly define the true meaning of Love.
Let me read from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
To be able to love our brothers and sisters we must be in the family of God. Born by the water and spirit. (John 3:5)
Christian love is a gift from God, demonstrated supremely in the cross. God’s love always takes the initiative, and the love of Christian’s is a response to that love. Likewise, all morally good human actions are good not because they conform to some arbitrary human standard of good, but because they are rooted in imitation of the morally perfect character of God and conform to God’s commands.