What's Love Got to Do with It?

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Pastoral Prayer
Chris is sick, those that are ill and recovering, Ukraine


Good Morning Everyone. Thank you for joining us here today and online. For those of you that may not know me, I am the youth pastor here. I spend most Sundays downstairs with the next generation of the church. This morning I get the privilege to share the Word of God with you today.
What a beautiful weekend. I love being outside in the spring. the warmth of the sun the new growth on the trees. It is a time of new life and new beginnings. I don’t know about you but with what has been going on the last couple of years it feels like the world is opening back up to us and there is opportunity everywhere. Churches are still coming back for their first weeks together in person. The airlines dropped the mask mandate and the life seems to be blooming this year along with the flowers.
Here is a question for you. Do you tend to be an optimist, Glass is have full person, or a pessimist, the glass is half empty person? There is nothing wrong with either. I am and engineer. The glass is twice as big as it needs to be. But since covid my interactions with people seem to be more on the pessimistic side. There seems to be a shift in many circles that is primarily focused on what is wrong with the world. What parts of the sky is falling and how bad things are and how bad they will be. There is a lot that is not going right in the world today. There are attacks on the church, the leaders of our country are leading us in concerning directions, there are wars going on and we are seeing signs that new ones may emerge. We are in a shift towards sin in society as we are definitely in a time where as the bible says people are not only making up new ways to sin but are applauding those who do. There issues are around us for sure.
BUT…today I want to shift our focus to a different direction. I want to shift our eyes up instead of out. Not ignoring what is going on against us but also what we can do to impact this world that can look so dreary. We have something the rest of the world does not have, the hope of our salvation.
Last week was the celebration and reflection of the death and resurrection of our most Holy Lord and savior. Jesus the Christ the Messiah, the savior of the world, the hope of the hopeless, the finder of the lost, the atonement for the wicked, the caller of the elect, and the purest demonstration of Love that will ever happen in the past, present, of future of human history. Most followers of Jesus met lst week and focused this demonstration of Love.
1 John 4:10 CSB
10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Leave that slide up for a minute. Read that slide again. Love… This is what we are going to look at today. Love that changes the world.
Like all sermons we are only going to scratch the surface of this topic. You will need to dig in deeper if you want to understand more. Self study and small group study must be part of your growth as a follower of Jesus.
Why do I say that? We have been going through heart issues as a youth group this year and we have started a weekly exploration of what the bible says about love. The 1st week I printed up all of the bible verses with the word love in it. How many do you think are in your bible?
So obviously we are not going to study all of the verses because it usually takes me an hour to go through one verse and I think our potluck will get cold if I go for 57 days.
We are going to look at a couple of answers Jesus gave to the religious leaders about love. So open you Bibles to Matthew 22.

What Command to Follow?

Matthew 22:35–40 CSB
35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Holding the bible
The religious leader asks Jesus what is the greatest command in the law? Jesus quotes:
Deuteronomy 6:5 CSB
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Leviticus 19:18 CSB
18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
All of the law and all of the Prophets depend on these two commands. There are many other commands but everything depends on these two. The word depends also can be translated to hang. Or to utterly be dependent on the object. The entire Old testament hang on these two commands. Jesus is saying that we must love God with our entire being. The most important command in the bible. So what does it look like to love God this way? Well it looks like Jesus. Someone told me once we spend time with what we love. I find this to be very true. Don’t you? How many of you like to hang out at places you don’t like? How many of you are sitting at home and you jump up all excited and you say “Hey everyone, you know that restaurant that gave us food poisoning and have dead flies in the soup, lets go there tonight?” No we go to places we love to go to.
If someone would look at a detailed list of activities that you participated in. Would they come to the conclusion that you love God? Would they think you loved God’s Word? This is not intended to make us feel bad but we are all still sinners that will have desires to love things that are not of God. We see Isreal constantly give up their love for God to love the things and idols of this world. What we spend time on should warn us about where our heart is. Where did Jesus spend his time. In the will of the Father. Always. This love is not manufactured or willed into our lives. It is a love the comes from God himself.
1 John 4:7–8 CSB
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This love is a fruit of the spirit and is produced in us as we walk and grow in Christ’s likeness. This love from God is then poured out on those around us. We are to grow and be restored into the likeness of Jesus and do what Jesus did.
Jesus had another interaction with a religious leader that helps us define who we are supposed to love:
Luke 10:25–28 CSB
25 Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.” 28 “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”

Who is My Neighbor?

This time Jesus does not answer with scripture. He asks the man what the law says and the man quotes the same two reverences to Loving God and Loving your neighbor. Jesus responds do this and you will live. Not only does all of the law hang on these two commands but Jesus says if you do these you will live. Most people would have probably left it at that and been proud that they answered correctly. But this man had to ask one more question. Had to reveal how sin works. How selfish man is:
Luke 10:29 CSB
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Give me the list of the people I have to love. I just want to make sure my list matches with yours. There is a lot of people that were hated in this society as there are a lot of people hated in our society. Remember the interaction Jesus had with tax collectors like Levi (Matthew) and Zacchaeous or the Samaritan Woman, or the lepers, the demon possessed, the lame and the blind. Even the Romans. All of these people and others were not people that this man would want to love. They were dirty, unholy sinners. Why would Jesus hang out with them. Don’t we do the same? How many of you heard treat others the way you want to be treated. We say that but don’t we try to justify ourselves the same way? We say well you don’t mean I have to love the bully, that politician, that criminal, that family member, that co-worker…
Don’t we have a natural hierarchy in our head and lives of who we have to love. So did this man, but Jesus continues with a parable or a story story to share a biblical truth:
Luke 10:30–37 CSB
30 Jesus took up the question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”
This unknown man is robbed an beaten and left on the side of the road. He is in really bad share. the first man is a priest, a descendant from the line of Arron and a man who would perform religious activities. The second man was a Levite, a man in the tribe of Levi. The Levites took care of many of the tasks and jobs with public worship. They would lead songs of praise, be gatekeepers, guards, perform construction, They were officials and judges. These first two men would be very relatable to the religious leaders who were asking questions. Remember they questioned why Jesus would even eat with a tax collector so they would agree that these 1st two men were not doing anything wrong.
The last man is a Samaritan. Samaritans and Israelites were bad enemies. When Isreal split into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom after Solomon’s time. The northern kingdom was conquered by Assyria. Those that survived intermarried with foreign people and eventually came to belief they were the true religion and Isreal was the false one. They even had their own temple. So there was much bad blood between these two people groups. Jesus couldn’t have picked a worse person to use in this story.
Who is the last person on the planet you would want to be stuck on a deserted Island with? That is the something line the Samaritan and the Jewish people.
Jesus’ question is so easy to miss the important nuance of it. Which of the three proved to be a neighbor… Who’s action’s proved that they were a neighbor to the man on the road. The one who showed mercy. And Jesus says go and do the same.
If you could only how it one of two ways which would you rather have in your life, people who always said they loved you but never showed it or would you have people who showed they loved you but never said it. Obviously we want the person who shows love. Jesus answer reveals that the entire world is our neighbor. It is us who prove to be the neighbors to the people around us. The love that Jesus is talking about here is not dependent on how people treat us but how we treat people. The condition is in our hearts not on the condition of the other person.
1 John 3:17–18 CSB
17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.
Luke 6:27–36 CSB
27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from someone who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For he is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

The Motive

This does not mean that we just go and try to be everything for everybody. It is God who will call us to specific action at specific times through prayer, meditation, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There are too many in this world that just have no compassion or empathy and there are too many that act loving but their heart are in the wrong place because they have not started with The 1st command, love the lord your god with all your heart and soul and mind.
We have seen the legal command to love god and our neighbor. And we have learned who the object of the command is, God and the world around us and that no one is exempt from the command to love. If we were to only focus on those two we would fall into legalism and performing actions out of legal obligation but that is never where God’s word ends. God’s word always gets to the heart, the inner man, eventually. It is the motives of our heart that define righteousness verse whitewashedness. Selfless or selfish actions. Is it an out pouring of our hearts or is it a beautiful covering over a rotting inside. Paul teaches this well.
1 Corinthians 13:1–13 CSB
1 If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. 13 Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love.
If there is no God then this love does not exist. If there is no Jesus, this love doesn’t exist. If Jesus isn’t the Christ, the Messiah, the chosen one this love doesn’t exist. If there is no death or resurrection this love doesn’t exist. If there is no salvation or atonement through the death and resurrection this love doesn’t exist. If the Holy Spirit does not dwell in us then this love doesn’t exist. If the bible isn’t true then this love does not exist.
There is a God, and he is Love, and because of this love he sent his son, Jesus the Christ, into the world to die for our transgressions, to pay the penalty for our sin, to be the perfect atoning sacrifice for us. Who loved us and send the Holy Spirit to us to seal us and adopt us into the kingdom of God to dwell in us so that we may Love the Lord our god with all of our heart, soul and mind and that we may Love our neighbor as ourselves.
The world may be look like it is falling apart around us but He is sovereign, He is holy and He is on his throne and in control. We need to look to him and go into the world to make disciples and train them to follow the commands of Jesus. We have the hope of salvation. We are to be the ones to show the world this love that God has for them.
Look around at our lives. It isn’t that bad. It maybe getting worse but the scripture hasn’t changed nor has our God. We have amazing blessings here, we strive to understand the word the want God wants us to, but I think we are in danger of being noisy gongs and clanging cymbals if we don’t fix our eyes on Jesus and correctly understand and live in his love.
What does this mean for us?
Well maybe you are here and you do not know the Jesus I speak of today and would like like here more about him. I would love to share what the bible says about him and his love for you.
Maybe you find that when you look at your time through out the week, that you are not living a life that is in love with God.
Maybe you find yourself struggling with loving people around you? Pray, seek his word. Meditate and ask for help.
Find a small group of believers that want to be biblically centered to support you as you grow. We have two woman's groups that meet weekly and we have two men’s groups that meet weekly. If you would like to here more about that just let me know. Maybe you have a teen or young adult that would like to grow in their walk with Jesus. They can come here Wednesday nights to our weekly meeting.
Like I said at the beginning this is just scratching the surface of this topic so I encourage you to get in the word and dig into it more.
I will close with this
John 13:35 CSB
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Let us pray.
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