“FURNISH IT WITH LOVE”

SERIES: BUILDING A SIGNIFICANT LIFE IN CHRIST

I JOHN 4:7-21

FEBRUARY 14, 2016

Rev. Dr. Rechard Meyer

(Play Audio)

 

            On this Valentine’s Day a Coca-Cola jingle from 1971 comes to mind …

 

            I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,

            Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.

            I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,

            I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

 

            Well, why not? Why not furnish a life with love?

            Since the first of the year, we have been looking at what it takes to build a significant life in Christ. We come to the next to the last task in constructing such a life … that is to say, we cannot build such a life without furnishing it with love.

            Now today’s message can be summarized in nine words. God is love. God loves us. Love one another. Got it? God is love. God loves us. Love on another. And that’s the basis of today’s outline. We’ll begin with God is love.

            In verse 16 John states, “God is love,” but note what John does not say. John does not say “God is grace” nor “God is mercy” although we know God is all-gracious and all-merciful. Rather John says “God is love.”  Grace and mercy are attributes of God. Love is not an attribute of God. Love is the essence of God. If you cut God, God bleeds love. When God creates, God creates in love. When God rules, God rules in love. When God redeems, God redeems in love. When God judges, God judges in love. Every move God makes, every action God takes, is an expression of God’s very being, which is love.

            Think what that means. Trudy and I have been married for forty-five years. She’s not only my wife, but also my best friend. I have a number of good friends, but none of them come close to Trudy. Given my relationship with Trudy I was tempted to get her that “Ever Us” ring being featured by Jared’s and Kay Jewelers. Have you seen the commercial for the ring? It has “Ever Us” engraved on the inside of the ring and it has two diamonds, one diamond for your true love and one diamond for your best friend. I know it’s a little cheesy, but I thought, “Boy that would be perfect for a Valentine’s present,” until I discovered the cost of the ring, so we bought each other a coffee pot for Valentine’s Day instead.

            Anyway, we have been married for forty-five years and she is the love of my life, but just about every day I ask her, “Do you still love me?” I guess I’m sort of like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye asks his wife, Golde, “Do you love me?” to which she initially replies, “Do I what?” and he asks again, “Do you love me?” and she replies, “You’re a fool!”  He says, “I know, but do you love me?” and finally Golde replies, “Do I love you? For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow.” To which Tevye replies, “So, you love me?” to which she replies, “I suppose I do.”

 

            When I ask Trudy, “Do you still love me?” she answers, “Yes, I love you and I’ll never stop loving you.”

            Neither will God. There will never be a time when God will stop loving us, because that would be a denial of who God is. Where God was, there was love. Where God is, there is love. Where God will be, there will be love. God is love.

            Let’s move on to the next three words. God loves us. John puts it this way in verses nine and ten,

 

            God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

            A young boy was continually in trouble.  He was forever breaking the rules and getting into trouble at school. His father could not understand why. He provided a good home for him. He spent time with him fishing and going to his ballgames. He had taken the boy to church with him every Sunday. He showered him with love, but the father just couldn’t figure out why the boy wouldn’t mind.  His son’s behavior was a mystery to him.

            One day his son was upstairs playing around with his baseball, which he’d been told repeatedly not to do not to do in the house, and he ended up breaking one of the bedroom windows. The father headed upstairs and took off his belt.  The boy knew what was coming so he voluntarily leaned over his bed but the father said, Son, here, take this belt” which his son did.  Then his father kneeled down next to the bed and said Son, I want you to give me seven lashes with this belt across my bottom.” His son started to cry and said that he couldn’t do it.  His father kept insisting until the son finally relented and started hitting his father with the belt but it wasn’t hard enough.  He said, Harder son, harder!” When the boy finally finished the father asked him Son, do you know why I had you do this?” 

            The son said,No. 

            The father said, When Jesus went to the cross he was being punished for something he did not do. Who do you really think did this to Jesus?” 

            The boy, still whimpering, hesitated and finally said he thought it was the Jews or the Romans but the boy’s father said, No, Jesus took the punishment he didn’t deserve to save people from punishment they did deserve.  That is how much Jesus loves us. 

            What happened to the boy? Well, he never got into the same amount of trouble again. He still got into trouble, as we all still get into trouble, but he changed.  Maybe it was because he wasn’t sure how his dad would react again.  The boy didn’t ever want to use the belt on his dad again although the father never said anything more about it.  Whatever is was, the message of his father’s love touched the young boy just as we are touched by Jesus Christ great love for us.

            Now for the last three words … love one another. Verses eleven and twelve …

 

            Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

 

            The phrase originally came from Jesus. He uttered it in the Upper Room the night before his sacrificial death, and John repeats it here. The word John uses here comes from the Greek word “agape.” It is not an emotion. It’s not Valentine’s Day romantic kind of stuff. That’s difficult to get our head around because so many people associate love with a feeling or an emotion, and yes, feelings and emotions are involved in love, but that’s not the word John chooses here. The word John uses here is more a verb (what we do) than an noun (what we feel). It’s a state of mind. It’s an act of the will. It’s what a person chooses to do, not what a person chooses to feel. I’m sure Jesus did not feel all that great about going to the cross, but that’s what he did. He willed himself into an act of love.

            I read about a family, the Simmons family, who attempt to practice this type of love. Their family motto is “Love is action.” The father of the family, Dave Simmons, tells a story of his eight-year-old daughter practicing the motto.

            He took his two children, eight-year-old Helen and five-year-old Brandon, to the mall. As they entered the mall, they saw a big sign with the words, “Petting Zoo.” Indeed, a portable petting zoo had been erected in the mall with six inches of sawdust, a fence and a bunch of furry baby animals. It was the mall’s way of allowing parents to shop without being interrupted by their children. The kids jumped up and down and asked Dave, “Daddy, Daddy, can we go? Please, please please?”

            “Sure,” he said, and he reached in his pocket gave them each a quarter, and told them he was going to pop into Sears to look at skill saws while they petted the animals. Now at this point, I would not have voted him father of the year. I can’t imagine a parent leaving two young children unsupervised at a petting zoo, but that’s what he did.

            While checking out skill saws, Dave Simmons, turned around and saw Helen walking toward him. He was shocked and bent down and asked her if anything was wrong. She looked up at him with her big brown eyes and sadly said, “Well, Daddy, it cost fifty cents. So, I gave Brandon my quarter.” She had given Brandon her quarter even though no one loved cuddly, furry creatures more than Helen.

            Her father asked her, “Helen, that was a very nice thing to do,” to which she replied, “Well, Dad, love is action.” She had heard her mother and father say that for years, and she put the motto into action.

            Because God loved us so much, sacrificing his son for us, we are to love one another. We don’t wait until we feel like doing it. We just are to do it.

            I’ll close with a story. There’s a story circulating about General Omar Bradley. You may remember that during the Second World War General Bradley commanded all the U.S ground forces invading Germany from the west, and after the war, in 1949, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

            Anyway, the story goes that Bradley was traveling on a commercial airline in a business suit. A young, gregarious private in the Army sat down beside the general and not recognizing him wanted to talk. “You must be a banker,” said the private. The general, in no mood for casual conversation with a private replied, I am General Bradley, a five star general in the U.S. Army. I am head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D. C.”

            Well, sir,” replied the kid, that’s a very important job. I hope you don’t blow it.”

            When it comes to loving one another, we have pretty important job to do. I hope we don’t blow it. 

            Amen.