The Way of Love Sermon

July 19th, 2020

1 Cor. 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Paul wrote this to the church at Corinth. I think the Church at Corinth had a lot of type A people in there. Everybody kept trying to out-do everybody else. They argued about who had heard the gospel from the greatest preacher. They argued about who baptized them. And they argued over who was most important in the church…who had the greatest gifts. Paul shook his head and said, I’m glad I didn’t baptize any of you. He schools them on what the gifts of the Holy Spirit are that equip the church for ministry. And he does say, these are great gifts. You should excel in these. But there’s an even better way. And in Chapter 13, he describes it, the way of love.

Art Linkletter used to host a program some years ago called, “Children say the darnedest things” It was a simple program. Art would set down across from children and ask them the deep questions of life. It was hilarious. Here are a few responses when he asked them “What is love?”

Johnny, Age 4 - When a person loves you, they say your name different. You just know your name is safe in their mouth.

Dennis, Age 5 - Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on after shave and then they go out together and smell each other.

Annie, Age 5 - Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.

Joe, Age 7 - Love is when daddy comes in all sweaty and smelly and mommy still tells him that he is handsomer than Robert Redford.

Jenny, Age 8 - When I had my piano recital, I was on the stage and I was scared. I looked out at all the people looking at me. Then I saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that and I wasn't scared anymore.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; When God adopts us, He becomes our daddy. He is always in the stands. God loves us and is our greatest fan. That’s important to remember because this world is in dire need, we are in dire need of understanding the love of God. We need this love that casts out fear.

But many have redefined love. Love has been damaged somehow. Our understanding of what love is – is far from the Bible. The entertainment industry presents love in many forms. We have confused lust for love. We have torn down all the guard rails. Love is so romanticized that it has become a notion, a feeling, butterflies, and it’s all about getting what I want.

But our culture has adopted this cry. Real lovie is all about me. Everything I do, everything I say, and everything I believe in. If you don’t love it all, if you don’t see eye to eye with me, not only are you not loving me but you are the enemy.

Church, there are those that cotend that in order to love like Jesus our attitude must be like that old Doris Day song, “Que Serah serah” Whatever will be will be. And if you try to say that love can be defined, or that there are any standards that define authentic love, well that is far too narrow. After all, who gets to define love? That’s the heart of the whole question: Who defines what love is?

Well, Christians are followers of Jesus so the Bible might be a good place to start. The Bible certainly casts a different picture than society of love but that picture is also out of focus. The devil has made his way with so many. People in the name of God are hating people, hating the sinner and not just the sin. We can’t do a thing about this world’s idea of Godly love, but as God’s people, we can step back and take a hard look at how we have acted. The things we say about others. The way we say them. The feelings we have towards people. And social media. People say things to each other, about each other that they would never say in a crowded room. There are plenty of issues in society that need fixing for sure. But if we aren’t careful we forget who we belong to and what His desire is. The gospel found you on his way to someone else. We are called to win people to Christ. 2 Timothy 2:4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.

But the devil wants to keep God’s people stirred up about this issue and that issue. So, that we forget our first love. We forget Christ has His eye on the people around us and wants to use us in the lives of others. We have to take risks. But we will never step outside our comfort zone if we embrace this world’s battles. When begin thinking like the world. If someone is not on the same page with me, well, I know God loves them. That makes one of us. The Bible is plain. That kind of Spirit is not of God. If we hate our brother who we have seen how can we love god who we have not seen. Many have missed the mark on what real love is.

So, what is love really? What does it look like? The word is thrown around a lot. So, it’s hard to nail down. In recent years, “God loves you” has lost its meaning. It’s become cliché. “Jesus loves you” is a bumper sticker. I wanted to bring a “Jesus Loves You” bumper sticker as a prop today, but this is as close as I could find - It says, “Do you follow Jesus this closely?” It’s like the one that says “if you can read this, you are following too closely.” That’ll stop tail-gaiters. Rub their noses in Jesus.

I Corinthians 13 - Love is patient (longsuffering, means waiting on God, Has to do with Trusting, not giving up)

Love is kind (love is gentle with the hearts of others, recognizes other’s needs and not just faults, looks for ways to help),

Love is not jealous (envious of others, wanting the attention, the credit, the power, the money…etc)

love does not brag (Love doesn’t care about impressing others as long as it is pleasing God)

love is no arrogant (Inflated ideas about its own importance),

love does not act unbecomingly (doesn't behave indecently, lives a blameless life)

Love does not seek its own (Pursuing personal advantages. Love’s primary concerns are the needs of others and not self.)

Love is not easily provoked (Does not get irritated easily, is not like a bear. People say, don’t poke the bear),

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered (Love is not keeping score because God doesn’t keep score),

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (Love doesn’t take pleasure in unholy things),

Love rejoices in truth (What truth? Thy word is truth Lord. Love embraces and values God’s word, not loves own opinion),

Love bears all things (Love sees the big picture, waits on God to work things out),

Love believes all things (Love is always eager to believe the best),

Love hopes all things (Love sees the bright side of things. When it is disappointed, it does not despair, but keeps on hoping because Love knows we have a Good Good Father)

Love endures all things (Love possesses a sturdy patience, is grounded in God) Love never fails.

- 2 Peter 1:4 great and precious promises, the divine nature, escape the corruption in the world

We need to allow God to not only define our love but to be the very source of it. The love of God can only be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

These words and descriptions of love are like a mirror we can hold up to ourselves and see areas of our hearts that need a cleansing. Here’s an exercise for you today. Take some time with this chapter. Get alone with God and read it. But everywhere the word love is, fill it in with your name. Then pray.

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