Faithlife Corporation

All you need is Love...?

Notes & Transcripts

class=MsoNormal>May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our strength and our redeemer. Amen 

The sermon I am about to preach may challenge you, I may challenge one of your most important beliefs - Love

Love? You might be wondering how is it possible that a sermon on Love would ever be challenging in a church.

Well, I can tell you that I would have felt greatly uncomfortable to preach this particular perspective on Love in my previous context

Not because I am going to say anything outside the realm of a Biblical understand of Love – but because it is a view on Love that is direct contrast with the majority of leaders in my former church

I will explain this as I go along…

I must also confess I do sometimes like to start out with something startling to grab attention and I am doing a bit of that today

Preamble aside - What a bounty of material from our scriptures today

            There is an incredible abundance of potential which could be preached on today

·         We have the story of David and Bathsheba… and all that has to offer

·         We have the Gospel message and Jesus’ statement that He is the Bread of Life – one of the six great “I am…” statements found in John’s Gospel and would be of great value with this our monthly corporate communion Sunday

·         However I will focus on the letter to the Ephesians

·         We have opening of Ephesians which stressed the notion of living up to our callings

·         we also have St. Paul’s beautiful list of the attributes or the characteristics of our bond in unity with the Spirit:

·         of humility

·         and gentleness,

·         with patience,

·         bearing with one another in love,

·         making every effort

Sometimes a powerful message used in wedding services

·         Then there is the message which has inspired many hymns and is one of the key messages for each baptismal service

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph 4:4-6a)

·         But it doesn’t end there… one could easily devote a sermon to expound on the nature of the Church – the body of Christ

How it is not the building or any institution but in fact the people of God that is the body of Christ

The message of how we, all, together, make up the body in the many gifts we bring in service to our Lord

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12)

 

But just as God speaks to us through the Scriptures – God also speaks to us in our daily lives

In our conversations, in the beauty of creation and in what we experience or are drawn to in the midst of those situations

Well this week I was faced with explaining the notion of Love in five different situations

            More specifically - defining Love – contrasting one notion of Love with another

When God gives you five times in one short week dealing with exactly the same subject – it’s time to pay attention to it

I can sometimes be a little slow on the up-take, a little insensitive sometimes, as Kelly can tell you – but five times is pretty clear

And the essence of the message on love which repeatedly ran through my week is found in our passage from Ephesians

All of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him (Eph 4:13-15a)

                        the truth in love,          we must grow up         in every way    into Him

The problem that is facing the Anglican Church appears to be an issue of the blessing of same sex unions – that is certainly what the newspapers report about

You can easily get angry people on either side of that specific issue, willing and capable of telling the other side (often in a less than loving way) how they are wrong,

Reporters want to tell stories where people are passionate and controversial – they want to tell stories about how the Anglican Church is in the process of breaking up

But the presenting issue, the tip of the ice-berg issue, is in fact a much smaller matter – 99% of the ice-berg is below the surface and 99% of the issue is not whether or not the Church will marry, call on God’s blessing, to people of same gender attraction

Some would say that the 99%, the real issue - is the role of scripture and the interpretation of scripture and how much it is a part of shaping a community

And I believe this too be true, However, many on both sides of the matter would claim that scripture is paramount in this matter, and it is scripture that is calling them to the position that they have

I would like to suggest that what is at stake, is in fact, our understanding of Love

            On one hand you have people which would see God’s Love as ‘all inclusive’

That God broke down the barriers – as St. Paul writes “there is no Jew or Greek or man or woman, slave or free person”

This is a message of tolerance in all things, especially in the accepting Love of God

‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ – Christ’s new commandment

And this is the fulfilling purpose of Christ’s victory over the Law

No longer are we bound to national, ethnic, racial, gender or even sexuality differences – but all equal under the eyes of God

God is a tolerant God – Love is defined as accepting us regardless of what we are

On the other hand, ‘tolerance’ is not a biblical word

Others would suggest that God’s Love and acceptance for all, is how we are able to approach God

That God calls out to all the lost, each and everyone of us, and offers a welcome home

We can see from our account of the David and Bathsheba, that God is there present with David – who was politically powerful, the king, yet in the Spring, when kings went out to war - David stayed home and got into trouble – His decisions made him an adulterer, liar, and murderer.

His decisions may have been above the law of the land, after-all he made the law of the land as king – but they weren’t hidden from God and they weren’t above God’s law

            What God is doing when God calls all regardless of any details of their situation

                        Is offering that first all important accepting Love

But, that is the call

Many through-out Christian history would understand God’s love ‘beyond invitation’ and into growing up in the faith – and being transformed by God

Some have said that when Jesus told Peter that he was to be changed from a fisherman to become a fisher of men

That his job, and by extension us - was to catch’em and God would clean’em

Jesus said to the women caught ‘in the very act of adultery’ – after all the Jewish leaders recognized that they were sinners too, and had left – Jesus said “go and sin no more”

There was no question about God’s wide open invitation – to the woman and to David and to each and every one of us - even when we break the Ten Commandments – and in David’s case the big one – thou shall not kill

            God’s invitation is to all… and encompasses even the worst that we can do

But, and this is a big ‘But’ - accepting God’s love meant going forward… changed

the truth in love,          we must grow up         in every way    into Him

There is a popular song by the Beatles “All you need is Love”

It was an important song for its time and the issues of the day

And some would say for every age

I like this song… but then again there is something about this song that gets under my skin

- Not because John Lennon of the Beatles, once, in an interview when asked about the popularity of Beatlemania said that “right now more young people were thinking about the Beatles than Jesus Christ”

Although that was an unfortunate thing to say

No, the reason I find this song frustrating is it claims an overly simplistic and shallow understanding of God’s Love

            It is a message that Love is all you need – and that brand of Love is - tolerance

                        It says nothing of transformation

                        It acknowledges nothing of the purpose of the life and death of Jesus the Christ

If Loving tolerance is all you need – then why did Jesus have to die for our sins on the brutal cross?

Why is the doctrine of atonement so paramount in all Christianity?

For me although Love is all you need, this song seems to me to represent ‘a less than complete’ bill of goods

            Understanding God’s Love is so important to understand God

                        So important to shaping the vision and mission of the church

God’s Love is what we are called to live out – in thought, word and deed

And when we fall short of that ask for God’s forgiveness and strive to “go and sin no more”

God’s love is not about rules and laws and some might characterize it

            Jesus challenged the rule keepers and law abiding Pharisees more than anyone else

                        And had the strongest words for them

            And yet why did he challenge them – for the fun of poking a stick at an angry powerful group?

…Jesus challenged them the most because, they were close – they were passionate for the ways of God and Jesus wanted to get them on the right track – to understand the reasons behind the laws

Nor is God’s Love is limited to a free-for-all – all things are good in the eyes of God – tolerate Love

            God’s love is not limited – but so much more

God wants the best for us – God wants us to come as we are

AND to feel the transforming power of His love

            God gave us commandments AND teaching for how we are to lived transformed by God’s grace

                        God gave us free will AND God gave us instruction

In ancient Greek, in which our new testament is written, there were four words that have all been translated into the one word Love

Each word tells of a certain type of love – revealing different types and expressions of Love

And yet a failing of the church is that we haven’t taught enough of the full expression of Love

We have been so focused on evangelism and trying to bring people to God’s love that we can fall victim to seeing God’s love in only one dimension

Once David realized his sins, and declared and confessed to God his sins

Confessed that his sins were to God

            God was merciful – God didn’t give David a death sentence – but life sentence

Bathsheba became David’s wife – and together and by the grace of God, Solomon was born

It was through David that the greatest of all life was delivered

It was David’s lineage from where Jesus came

God’s love is full acceptance – Come just as you are

            And God’s love is about making our joy complete

Transforming us to make us whole

Whole in the fullness of God’s Love

I share this message of Love freely – in the faith that God will bless your life both in accepting you as you come AND trusting that when you are transformed by what can be at times ‘tough love”  you will discover: the truth in love,

that we must grow up,

in every way,

into Him - Amen

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