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1 John 3:11-24

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Notes, Quote & Discussion Questions

We study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel. If you would like a paper copy, raise your hand up real high. Somebody will drop one off at your aisle. And we are currently studying 1 John and taking the last half of Chapter 3, if you want to turn there with me. I’m going to call this sermon, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” So, just thought some of you are getting images right now—I can tell what’s happening there. While Christian faith is never merely theoretical, it is always thoroughly practical.

What are the marks of authentic Christian faith? Jesus declared once, “By this shall all men know that you’re my disciples…” Oh, come on now. “…love one for another.” That’s right, yeah. In our day in time love is a word that’s been reduced to pretty much the emotional realm and all but eviscerated of its deeper meaning. We use the same word to describe our disposition of heart toward our favorite ice cream, sports teams, pizza, and, oh yeah, people. What could the term love actually mean then, and why is the love human beings share with one another so fickle, fragile, and fleeting?

Jesus followers believe there’s a love that comes from beyond ourselves and is sourced in Christ. We also believe the nature of love and scope of God’s love reaches deeper and further, beyond personal preferences and beyond how any one of us might feel in a given moment. So, as we walk through this last half of Chapter 3, it’s my hope that we’ll see how as the Church of Jesus in this day and in this time with all of the world’s pain and suffering, with all of the injustice, with all of the violence and the darkness, especially here in the USA coming into an election year with all of the acrimony and outrage, and division that might rise up; I think the church is uniquely positioned to both restate and demonstrate that there’s a love that transcends all of that. Do you believe that? If you do, then we’ll all join together in the goals that we have here for 1 John, our study of it, and more confident assurance of God’s love for us.

Pastor Matt led us through the first half of this chapter last week, which begins with, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we would be called the children of God.” I remember as a kid singing that song and getting the round… we sang it in rounds and all that. It was a great, great reminder of God’s love. He starts this thing off, and He sets His love on us, sinners though we might be. But the deepening experience of abiding in Christ, we’re learning about that, as well as we go through 1 John, increasing power over sin and temptation, so important.

If this doesn’t help us do that, if it doesn’t help us in some way to live some victorious Christian life, what good is it? It’s just head knowledge, it’s just data. There’s one thing I pray and hope, it’s that we aren’t just giving you information and data, but that actually what we’re doing as we study God’s Word is that it leads us to transformation of hearts and mind.

So, that’s important. A fuller sense of joy in your faith—man, we’ve talked about that a bunch. A greater love for a community of believers. And I’m so thrilled as a pastor to see the love of God in motion in this church, and maybe I see it more than most because I’m in touch with all the different leaders and different groups. But it’s awesome to be able to say this is a church that loves one another well and is learning to do that. It doesn’t mean we do it perfectly, but we’re learning to do that. When somebody walks through the door, bringing in all the baggage that we each bring in with us, it’s very diverse and different levels and degrees and all sort of things.

But when you walk through this door, man, it’d be our goal that the love of God moving among the people of God would unfold and welcome everybody, and then begin to change us, as well. So, before I read, let’s pray: Living God help us to so hear Your Holy word today that we may truly understand it, that understanding it we may believe, and believing we may follow in all faithfulness and obedience, seeking Your honor and glory in all we do. We pray for a clear vision of Your truth, a greater faith in Your power and a more confident assurance of Your love for us. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray. Amen and amen.

So, John writes here. He’s probably the last living of the original 12 disciples. And this letter is to a church or some group of churches, we’re not sure. Back then they used to distribute these letters around, and people would read them from a lot of different churches. But John shows no sign of any a superiority complex for having outlived the other disciples. He doesn’t have much of, “Look at me, I sat around a campfire with Jesus, therefore I know more than all of you.”

There’s none of that. He is this beloved apostle. Thirteen times in this letter, 1 John, he refers to his readers as children, his children. He’s probably an aged pastor-slash-apostle, and his heart is to instruct them and remind them of the things that matter to comfort them. And yet, man, when you go back into the Gospel John and read the other three gospels, as well, you know that John and James, man, they were the “Sons of Thunder.” They were the bouncers among the disciples. They were the ones that said to Jesus when He was not so welcomed in some area there: “You want us to call down fire and brimstone on these people?” And Jesus, of course, said no.

But throughout this letter, 1 John, we see that he uses the title “God” 63 times, but he uses the word “know” 36 times, and the word “love” 36 times. It’s as if he were saying, “There is a God, and He wants you to know that He loves you.” I think, if that’s what we got after studying 1 John, I think that’d be great. I’ve summarized the letter this way and added a little bit to it each week:

“God wants us to rejoice in the knowledge of His love for us, expressed vividly in the person and work of Jesus. And then, God wants us to share His love with one another.” And that’s where we come to today as we read verses 11 and following. “For this is the message which you’ve heard from the beginning that we [he switches from you] should love one another.”

Now, I could almost just close my Bible and say, “You all have a great lunch,” because that’s it. He’s going to spell that out a little bit more, but I mean that’s the essence of what we’re about to really come through. And I’ll even suggest that there’s great value to continuing through to the end of the chapter. Why? Because all week long as I’m marinating this and reading this, I entered the week thinking I’m a pretty loving person, but the closer I got to learning and understanding what John and what Jesus means by the word love, the more I felt convicted myself and the more I’ve thought I’ve got so much to learn about this, maybe that will happen for you, as well.

Verse 12, he says, “Not as Cain,” so he gives a negative example first. You remember Cain and Abel, Genesis Chapter 4. “Not as Cane, who was of the evil one, slew his brother. And for what reason did he sin? Because Cane’s deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.” So, there’s going to be some antipathy, some acrimony coming from the world, and whenever John uses that term, he’s referring to the world system, the way the world system thinks and acts apart from God or as if God doesn’t matter, okay? So, that world system is going to hate you. Why? Because they hate Christians. They hate Christ, and so they’ll hate Christians. It’s not that they hate good people. There’s a whole lot of good people, and it’s the normal humanistic definition of good.

He’s not saying they hate good people. He’s saying they’re going to hate you because you’re Christians. That doesn’t mean we run around with some complex and become our own little subnation of victims. We already have that mindset going. We don’t need more of that. What we need to do is learn how to suffer well. What we need to do is learn how to endure better instead of demanding, and everybody fix us and do for us and tend to us. “Not as Cane who slew his brother.” Why? Because Cane was evil. His works, his deeds were evil. Abel’s were not.

“Don’t marvel if the world hates you.” We know what love whenever he says we know. I sit up straight when he says “we know” because I live in a world that doesn’t know anything. Skepticism rules in our day and time, and it’s almost as if you can’t really believe in anything at all, and there’s all kinds of skepticism that’s being pushed on us all the time.

“But we know that we’ve passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” And John is so good at these contrasts. He’s going to contrast light and darkness in this letter. He’s going to contrast life and death. He’s going to contrast love and hatred. And over and over again, he’s brilliant at teaching by contrast. Verse 15, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Now remember, Jesus is the one, that in the sermon on the Mount, raised the bar on what it meant in your heart. In your heart you hate someone, or you think of them as a fool or you get angry with them or whatever, He’s the one that says, “It’s really all about the heart.” Whether you do something physically or not is not what matters. What’s going on in your heart is what matters because that’s where our sins come from. The sin condition in our heart leads to acts of sin on the outside. And so, here he is saying, if you are hating someone, you’re actually wishing them death. Now, you’re saying, “That never happens to me,” and I’m saying, yes it does. On I-65 and on 440, and in the grocery line.

And there’s so many other ways in which we all roll our eyes and think with contempt. I mean it might have even happened to you on the way to church this morning, and here you are worshiping the Lord, yet you had murder in your heart. And it happened to me. I mean this morning on the way here in the car, somebody cuts me off on Hillsboro Road. I look over at my wife and say, “I just had murder in my heart.” And then, it turned out to be a TVCer that was… no, no, no, no. No, it wasn’t. It wasn’t, but it could have been. And that’s why I say let’s be careful about this whole thing, right?

Verse 16 is another, we know, statement by John. “We know love by this that…” using this personal pronoun, he’s going to refer to Jesus now. He’s had Cain as an example of hatred that leads to murder and death. And now in contrast, here’s Jesus who’s going to be the ultimate example of love that sacrifices Himself so that others might live. This is the most unusual thing, isn’t it? It’s so unique about the Christian faith.

He laid down His life for us, verse 16. “We ought to lay down our lives then for the brethren,” and then he spells that out a little bit, and lest you think that you actually are going to have to take a bullet for somebody, like a Secret Service guy jumping in front of a bullet that’s been shot at some leader or whatever, no, it looks like a whole lot of things. “Whoever has the world’s goods,” verse 17, “and beholds his brother…” Now, it’s singular. It’s getting real specific. I mean it’s really easy to love the whole world, isn’t it? When it gets really hard is at the Thanksgiving table when your cousin Eddie is there or your weird aunt, what was her name? Aunt Bethany.

Yeah, some of you know what I’m talking about, yeah. She’s asked to say the blessing and she says, “I pledge allegiance to the flag.” He’s just, “Aunt, okay.” Jesus, because He is love sacrifices Himself so that you and I might live. You see two contrasting examples. “Whoever has the world’s goods, beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” In other words, this isn’t just theoretical. Like I said earlier, this is practical. How can it be that so many people are hungry and yet we have the world’s goods, that general phrase?

How can that be? Go further, how can it be that there’s nearly 30 million people caught up in human trafficking when we could do something about it, or we could be working toward freeing them? “Little children let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and in truth.” John Stott so beautifully always used to say, “The gospel is to be heard and seen.” It’s in both word and deed that the gospel comes alive in our world. So, verse 19, a little bit of a change here, but nonetheless I think it’s connected.

We shall know, another we know, by this… By what? Well, by what he just said. “We’ll know by this that we’re of the truth and shall assure our heart before Him and others.” If the love of God is flowing among the people of God, and the people of God are meeting the needs around them, this is how we know that God is moving among us. That the life of God is in us, and the love of God is flowing through us, and it will assure our heart before Him. And I want to encourage you, that’s what you really want as a follower of Jesus. You want the “Well done” to be from the only lips that matter.

The “Well done” that you’re looking for in life is from Jesus, not from looking in the mirror, not from the number of likes or the follows, or any of that stuff. The “Well done” that really matters is the “Well done” from Jesus. “And whatever our heart condemns us,” verse 20, he’s talking about a healthy conscience, “for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” Man, when I read that, I was like, “God is greater than our heart?” We live in a day and time when it’s all “trust your heart.” Everything is about your heart. And the Bible is saying, “No, God is greater than your heart.”

As a matter of fact, Jeremiah says, “The heart of man is wicked, deceitful.” In other words, nobody lies to me more than me. Sometimes when I tell myself, “I’m horrible and wretched,” all that stuff, pummeling myself over and over again. And other times when I’m telling myself, “Pretty good there, Jim. God’s pretty lucky to have you on his team.” Nobody lies to me more than me. And I would suggest to you that nobody lies to you more than you, but God is greater than our heart. He knows all things.”

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God. Whatever we ask, we receive from him.” Because see, now, some of you, you’re thinking. “Whatever we ask, we receive from him.” Is that God is the pinata, and prayer is the stick, and that’s not right. “Now, we know that whatever we ask, we receive from him because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.” When we ask for what He wants, when we adjust and align our vision to the way He sees things and we ask for those things, “We want what you want, Father,” just like Jesus in the garden, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” That’s the model right there of the tension between what we want and what God wants.

We should always be saying, “Not my will, but thine, be done along with Jesus.” That’s a very good prayer right there. And that we’re seeking to please Him. We want to be pleasing in His sight. Why, because we love Him. And this is His commandment. I love verse 23. It’s so beautiful. The way that he just, again, spells it out so simply. Clarity is John’s gift, as well. This is what God really wants, “That we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”

“Love God, trust Jesus, love the brethren and sistren,” okay? Love the brothers and sisters. “The one who keeps his commandments abides in him.” There’s that word. We haven’t heard that word in a few sentences, few verses, have we? I love that word, “abide.” Sixteen times in 1 John: “Abides.” If you want to abide in Him, you keep His commandments. And He in Him, there’s this reciprocal, there’s this mutual thing that’s happening. This union with Christ means His life in us, our life in Him. I find my identity. I find my life, my being, everything in Him, and that He gives me His life. That’s really a great, wonderful union or communion, if you will. “And we know by this that he abides in us by the spirit, which he has given us.”

Okay, so four ancient Greek words that some of you are familiar with. And Eros is the word for love. It describes, as we might have guessed, erotic or sexual love, which the Greeks used to talk about Eros. Storge, second word for love, referred to familial or family love, the kind of love between a parent and a child, between family members, in general. Philia, we get the city Philadelphia’s name, the brotherly love thing. So, this is the friendship or affection. And then, Agape, which is Agape, as some of you will call it or pronounce it, is what is John’s using here. He’s talking about this love that is unconditional love. It’s a love that gives without condition, without expecting anything in return. It’s a love that can be given to the unworthy, the unlovable, and to someone who is unappealing in every way.

It can be given to that person. That’s the person I was when Jesus first got a hold of me because I was running the other way. And so, were you whether or not you acknowledge it or not, but he came and loved you first. We’ll learn that over and over again that we love him because he loved us first. And so, it’s so important there. What’s love got to do with it? Yeah. Popular recording artists have written thousands of songs about love, haven’t they? “All you need is–Love.”

Let’s see if you can help me out with some of these. They claimed that “love will keep us together.” And at the same time, some songwriters were puzzled and said, “I want to know what–love is.” Some warned us that we might become “addicted to–love.” Or we might even be a “victim–of love.” … because after all, love is a… [“battlefield”] Oh, yeah, I didn’t think anybody would get that. See, I thought that was too much. Nobody was going to get that one. Right here in the front row, six months free, no tithing. Just kidding, just kidding. Some have surprisingly admitted, “I think I–love you.” Others have claimed to have “a whole lot of—love.” One time a group of singers confessed, “I’m all out of–love.” Yeah. While another confessed, “I just called to say I–love you.” Yeah. If you were about to travel somewhere, they told you to “get on board the—love train.” One songwriter who was apparently bruised in their relationship said, “You give love a –bad name.”

Hey, you did that one pretty well, too. I thought that’s really good. Interestingly, the songwriters have also asked some very direct questions about love. What is love, what about love, and what’s love got to do with it, the title of our sermon. So, I have to ask you, is love more than a feeling? Feelings are fleeting, fickle, and fragile. Is love more than that? When we say we love somebody, what do we actually mean? This has been helpful to me. I don’t do this. I rarely do this, kind of a thing, but I just took a phrase from each verse and wrote it down, but this will be on the slides. I won’t spend much time with this other than to read it and say I think the essence of it is the timelessness of love. “This is the message which you’ve heard from the beginning that you should love one another” or that “we should love one another” is more correct.

The opposite of love, verse 12, clarity, the contrast brings not as Cain. In other words, to love is more than gritting our teeth and tolerating someone, that’s not loving somebody. Love is more than not entertaining thoughts of hating someone. So, if you think there’s somebody who is the repugnant other, you don’t love him. Now, you’re like, “There’s nobody in my mind like that.” Oh yeah, there he is. We’re going into an election season. Some of you recoil. You’re just filled with animosity towards those people. How could they be the way they are? And we got to show the world there’s an antidote to the problems of the world and it begins really close, right in our hearts and minds. The antipathy of the world toward God’s love is verse 13, of course, evidence of life through love.

We know that we passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. Do you understand how huge that claim is? You’ve passed out of death, and he’s not talking about physical death. Here, he is talking about this clearly. He’s talking about spiritual death. You’ve passed out of death into life. When you love the brethren, and there’s so many of us that have so much animosity toward church people, towards believers of other stripes. That’s one of the most beautiful things about him. His kindness toward others, even others he disagreed with, yeah.

May we all catch that really good infection, right? The impact of the absence of love, that hatred, sets us on the road to murder, hopefully, only figuratively. But Jesus always concerned about what’s going on inside our hearts, doesn’t want us to be murderers at heart. Our hearts were not designed to entertain murder or hatred. We’re not wired for that. It’s like a piece of electronic gear that you’re straining under heat or something and it’s about to burn up. You weren’t made for hatred. You’re actually designed to bear the image of God who is love, the generosity of love is eager.

Verse 17, the sacrifice of love… or 16, rather, the opposite of hatred, murder. It’s the self-sacrifice of Jesus. Die in a cross that we might have live. Verse 17, “The generosity, love, eager to give, not obsessed with what it gets.” Practicality of love, it looks like something, what does it look like in your relationship? How about verse 18? What does that look like? “Don’t love with word or tongue but indeed in truth.” What would that look like if you took that seriously in your own household, in a new way? Because some of us settle back and get… we coast, and now we’re just on cruise control, and we’re not actually thinking about how to actually show love to the people we live with, and yet that should be right where we’re experiencing the love of God, yeah, verse 18.

Nineteen, “The assurance of love.” We shall know by this, and we will be assured in our heart before Him, again, before God. The only set of eyes that matters, the only set of lips that well done comes from that matters. Verse 20, which I think is really powerful. Let me put that up there, too. There you go. There, it’s up there. “The proper condemnation of a healthy conscience.” Now, some of you are going, “There’s no such thing as proper condemnation.” Yes, there is. A conscience is a gift from God.

It keeps me from doing things that my ego wants to do, what my unfettered selfishness wants to do, what my pride wants me to do. It’s this thing. This gift that God has given us in terms of conscience that actually makes me refrain from doing bad. And conscience even works in a positive way because it’s a gift from God to prompt me to what to go and make a difference and sponsor children from Compassion, and make sure I’m giving to the work of the Lord, and make sure I’m involved in helping and serving in any way I can. And that in any given moment of my life, I’m prepared to be inconvenienced. I’m prepared to actually love somebody. And I hope that’s true for all of us. That’s what we need is a proper healthy conscience. Verse 21, “The proper confidence of gospel-based faith.” The scripture informed conscience has the knowledge of God’s will and ways.

In other words, there’s the truth that will set you free. Read the words of Jesus, do the commands of Jesus. And if you do actually love God and remember this is all part of this series of helping us understand and be assured, if we actually have saving faith, then that’s what happened. You don’t do this to get saving faith. You do this because you have saving faith, and it’s the evidence of saving faith that you begin to have proper confidence in a gospel-based faith. Verse 22, “The realignment of our affections from the loving God.” That is as we love God, He realigns our affections.

We keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And then, verse 23… what pleases God? All right, there it is, boom, verse 23, right? It says it right there that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. And to believe “in the name of” means that we believe everything the Bible claims to be true about Jesus: that He is the Savior, that He is our Lord, that He knows better than I do about literally everything. And because of that, I am eager to show my love and express my love to Him through loyal, obedience to Him.

And part of that is loving one another, okay? The deep communion of abiding love of verse 24 is there, it’s so beautiful, as well. “Union with Christ, the object of our faith,” It’s one of the most unique things about the Christian faith. We actually are placed in union with the object of our faith. You don’t see that with other religious belief systems. This one is like, we’re actually in union with Christ. Matter of fact, the Apostle Paul uses “in Christ” or “in him” 150 times or more. If you want to know the definition of a Christian, it’s somebody who’s in Christ. Not just somebody that believes that Christ existed, but somebody whose life is in Christ. That’s a completely deeper, richer, fuller meaning, isn’t it?

So, we have these categories of evidence, the theological evidence, the belief that Jesus, the moral evidence, obedience to His commands, and the social evidence, love for one another. Then, we see this all throughout, and every week we’ve been posting this up on the screen because it’s all through 1 John. And we need to keep saying it and keep saying love. It means so much more than I think this world would say. It is not a veneer. It is not a slogan at all, it’s way deeper than that. And it’s really important, I think, that we understand it.

There was once a bumper sticker I read that said, “I love humankind. Its people I can’t handle.” That’s what I was saying earlier. It’s really easy to say I love everybody when you don’t really know everybody, and you’re not really close to a lot of people. And you keep yourself from getting close to people because, I don’t know about you, but the closer you get to somebody, the more you see the warts, and the more you start to understand how human they are, and it’s a harder thing to do.

But “love one another” occurs 13 times throughout the New Testament. “Love one another.” Those three words together in that phrase, 13 times in the New Testament, six times here in the letters of John, 1 John 3:11, verse 23, Chapter 4:7, verse 11, verse 12, and then in 2 John verse 5. When it comes to loving Jesus, we show authentic love for Him by obedience to Him and His commandments. Loving Christ is transformative. As I love Jesus more, it changes the way I love you more and you love me more as we grow in our love for the Lord Jesus.

John says, “We can’t love God, though, if we will not love others.” So, if you’re sitting here saying, “I’m sorry, that one I’m not going to love.” Well, then, how can you say you love God, because that Jesus came to die for that one, that repugnant other that you can think of right now. Jesus actually came to die for that one. What would happen to us if that sank in a little bit deeper over the next couple of months? I like the way C.S. Lewis clarified the whole thing about love in general versus love in specific.

“It’s easier to be enthusiastic about Humanity with a capital H than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.”

–C.S. Lewis

That’s really well said. Raise your hand if you think loving others is easy. Good, don’t raise your hand. Raise your hand if you think somebody’s thinking about you right now. It’s probably true. It’s more than a feeling.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything, literally everything. It’s the sign by which we show that we indeed belong with Jesus. Let me read the parallels from the Gospel. Notice the number of times Jesus would say things like this.

“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, just as I’ve loved you. You’re also to love one another. By this all, people will know that you’re my disciples.”

John 13:34-35

If you have proper doctrine or if you go to the village chapel, or if you tithe, or if you wear a tie to church? No, if you have love one for another.

That’s the words of Jesus.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

How should we do that, Jesus? In what manner would we show our love? What should our love look like? “Just as I have loved you.” The problem is that a bunch of us think we’re lovable. We think Jesus has a pretty easy job loving me. Love Jim, everybody loves Jim, and no, not so. The commandment I give you,

“This I command you, that you love one another.”

John 15:17

The Apostle Paul echoed the same thing. Didn’t he?

“Be devoted to one another. In brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor.”

Romans 12:10

Think about if we did that more. At lunch, look for a way to honor somebody and we would do it. We say, “Happy birthday,” “Happy anniversary.” “Congratulations on your new job.” We do all that stuff.

How about you honor somebody? This morning I got to call on WhatsApp from over in Spain from friend of mine, the pastor in Minorca. Another friend of mine who’s a pastor is over there preaching. So, the two of them, they called in their church. They’ve already had church, and they just called to say, “I love you,” and which they did. And I love these guys because we love and honor each other, and we express that to each other. So, look for opportunities to do that. I think it’s really important.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another. For he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

Romans 13:8

This is God’s will for you. This is God’s ways for you to walk in, loving one another.

You’re actually going against His will, working against how you were designed when you don’t love one another, when you nurture feelings of anger and hatred toward one another. 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul says,

“Now, as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.”

1 Thessalonians 4:9

The Apostle Peter weighs in, as well.

“Since you have an obedience to the truth, purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.”

1 Peter 1:22

That’s so hard to do, isn’t it, sometime, from the heart. Anybody, when you were a kid, you have a fight with your sibling, and your parents turn around and say, “Now, apologize.” And so, you said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” And then, your parents say, “Say it like you mean it.” And then, you start to go, “I’m sorry.” We think a little more juice is going to make it feel better or look sound better, or whatever. How is this possible that I could love others from the heart when my heart isn’t in it?

And that’s the answer, isn’t it? Get your heart in it by giving your heart to Jesus. “And behold what manner of love the Father has given unto you that you should be called the children of God.” Now that you know that, have that indicative, operate out of that indicative, respond to His imperative out of the indicative. Love others because He first loved you and realize how much love He has loved you with and how little you deserved it, and that should change pretty much everything about us. Peter, again,

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

Pastor Ray Ortlund Jr. from Immanuel Church has become a friend over the last year or so. I love this quote by him. He says,

“’One anothers’ that I can’t find in the New Testament: humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, defeat one another, disapprove of one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins, intensify one another’s sufferings, point out one another’s failings…”

–Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Yeah, those aren’t in the New Testament. Cancel one another, not in the New Testament. Now, into a contentious world that’s being choked out by the acrimony, anger, and outrage, which I would call the kudzu of our culture, it’s choking us out. Into that kind of world, the word of God calls Christians to be a living antidote to all of those ills by doing what Jesus did, simply learning to love one another.

“The Christian community, when it’s working properly, offers men and women a way of being related to one another that cuts across all the things that divide us… There is nothing else in human life that levels distinctions and creates new relationships like the knowledge that one has been saved by grace.”

–Fleming Rutledge, Means of Grace

All people who have placed their faith and their confidence in trust in Jesus for salvation belong to Jesus. Don’t belong to myself anymore. Don’t belong to my feelings, don’t belong to my circumstances. I belong to Jesus. This community of believers is made up of people who are neither perfect nor sinless. Don’t expect that. But come in expecting to love yourself. You love. Don’t measure how much you should love by how much you are loved by the other imperfect people in the room and the other people who are not sinless.

When you come in here, you take up the mantle and you love. Be a host, not a guest when you gather together with God’s people. Someone who’s exemplified this well, Pastor Tim Keller, and as you heard earlier in our prayer time, succumbed to a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. I checked my quotes repository, my document that I keep all my quotes in, because I do a little bit of quoting. I have saved over 400 quotes by Tim Keller, second only to C.S. Lewis. Some of you thought I was going to say John Stott.

I’ve read so many tributes to his life in ministry. One said Keller provided an intellectually coherent way to be a Christian within the bustling metropolis, that’s true. He really did. Another written by someone who happens to be a friend of some of us here at TVC, Trevin Wax, expressed some of the same thoughts that I have about Tim. He said, “Keller’s writing and ministry became an anchor for me. He exhibited a sense of calm no matter what was taking place. He didn’t get caught up in the drama. He was the epitome of a non-anxious presence.” I love that. It’s great. Could we be a non-anxious presence going into the next year and a half? Could we be non-anxious people? Yeah. And “Tim had a deep-rooted security in his faith that allowed him to interact with people of various beliefs with respect and kindness. And he cared deeply about the future of the church and the spread of the gospel globally.”

And I want to do that, as well. Tim said,

“We must strive to hold ourselves accountable to practice forgiveness and reconciliation. Our mutual love for one another is how the world will see who Jesus is.”

–Tim Keller

And Jesus said that too, right, “By this shall all men know that you’re my disciples.” So, in a world choking on the consequences of its unfettered, acrimony, and outrage, Christians are called to rise above the fray. Love one another so well it presents the world with another alternative to its self-obsession and seeming addiction to chaos. Tim would also say, “Love is counting someone else’s needs and interests more important than your own needs and interests or comforts.”

So, while we want to present who Jesus is through our relationships in the way we love one another, there is yet one more thing. And Tim would agree with this as well, there’s yet one more thing. The love of God’s people, for God’s people will do beyond all that we’ve said so far, one final point, and it comes really from our older brother, John Stott.

“I wonder if anything’s more urgent today for the honor of Christ, for the spread of the gospel than what the church should be, and should be seen to be, what by God’s purpose and Christ’s achievement it already is — a single new humanity, a model of human community, a family of reconciled brothers and sisters who love their Father and each other, the evident dwelling place of God by His Spirit…”


“…Only then will the world believe in Christ as Peacemaker. Only then will God receive the glory due His name.”

–John Stott

So, Village Chapel, I implore you, I beg you, if I must, as your pastor: For the good of your own soul, for the health of this community of faith, and for the glory of Jesus, which we should all be about, right? Let’s find ways to move closer in from the fringes of a marginalized faith and a trivial sense of love and learn what it means to actually be engaged in Christ exalting love with each other. What’s love got to do with it, pretty much everything, doesn’t it?

Yeah, that’s what John would tell us. It was God’s love that motivated Jesus to become one of us in the incarnation, to die for all of us in the crucifixion. And it was Christ’s love for us that drove Him to defeat our last and greatest enemy, death itself, when Jesus burst forth from the tomb in His glorious resurrection. Romans 5:5 says that the Holy Spirit is busy shedding the love of God abroad in our hearts. Can you look back and see some of that happening in your own heart? And it shows up in your relationships. It shows up in your disposition of heart toward the others and the one another’s, even the ones that are hard to love.

It shows up there. Do you see it flowing in your life? I hope that you can say, yes. And I encourage you by saying that when I run out of mine, Jesus is the fountain of love divine. So, we turn to Him when we need help loving somebody. Let’s turn to him and pray even as we close out today:

Father, may the good seed of Your word find fertile soil in our hearts and minds. May the Holy Spirit use our study of it today to dig roots and bear fruit in our lives, especially the fruit of love for the glory of Jesus. In His name we pray, amen and amen.

(Edited for reading)

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