“WISDOM OF LIVING (23) THE QUEST OF LOVE” Pastor Yau
INTRODUCTION: If we want to give one word to describe Christian faith, I guess most people will choose the word “LOVE.” That is why John is the most quoted or recited verse of the Bible when we want to share Christian faith with others. But the true meaning or definition of love has also been greatly distorted. While there are beautiful stories of love in books, movies and real life, love has also been misused as means to gain control, to achieve selfish purposes or even to cover up degraded intentions. Love is the most attractive word yet it is also very mysterious.
God is love and He demonstrated His love by sending His Son Jesus to the world to die for sinners so they can be reconciled with Him. Before He was betrayed and crucified, Jesus gave His disciples a long and soul searching message in chapters 14, 15, 16 and finished His message with a heart-touching prayer in chapter 17. The whole theme of this longest discourse is love.
In the center of His teaching on love, chapter 15, Jesus focused on His disciples asking them to model His love by loving each other even to the point of laying down their lives for their friends as He did for the world. This requirement supercedes that of asking His followers to deny themselves and to carry their crosses and follow Him. (Matt. 16:24) Let us see how He related love from mere emotion to sacrificial actions.
THE MODEL OF TRUE LOVE: (v. 9)
1) The basis of love: Jesus knew that there is no true, complete and selfless love except that from God. The love in which God had loved Jesus is the same love in which Jesus loved His disciples and therefore all of us. The Apostle John explained this concept more clearly in 1 John when he said, “We love because God has first loved us.” All the doctrines and teachings of Christian faith hinged on the sacrificial love of God. The love of God is never self-centered but altruistic. The Union version of the Chinese Bible puts “I have loved you” at the beginning of the sentence is a better expression of the nature of God’s love—for the people of the world.
2) The span of love: There are many defects in human love and one of them is it’s short lived. Many reasons contribute to the short lived of human love: losing attraction or interest, getting used to, lacking fresh sparks, taking for granted, too long and too routine, distance, other new found interests, just to list a few. That’s why Jesus asked or ordered (in Greek text) the disciples to remain, stay in His love. Many new believers, if not all, enjoy so much of God’s love at the start of their Christian walk. But some may find new love and left God. Jesus knew that it is very important to stay in His love as He repeated it in the following verse. The love of God is all sufficient for our needs. Don’t try to find new love outside of God.
THE PROOF OF STAYING IN HIS LOVE: (v.10)
1) To love Him is to obey Him: Jesus linked loving Him and obeying
Him in when He said, “Whoever has my commands and obey them, he is the one who loves me.” God never asks us to give Him anything except to obey His commands. He puts it squarely the true test of loving Him: obey His commands. Why is it so hard to obey God if we truly believe that He is all knowing, all powerful and has our best interest in His heart? Nothing pleases God better than obeying Him.
2) Our model of obedience: Unlike some human authorities who would say “Do as I say, but don’t do as I do,” Jesus demonstrated what obedience means by obeying His Father in all things. He came to earth to complete His missions God sent Him for and He did it the hard way—by death on the cross. He repeatedly claimed that He did all things as His Father wanted Him to. It takes true humility and respect to obey someone. Our obedience shows our humility and respect to the almighty God.
THE REWARD OF STAYING AND OBEYING: (V.11)
1) The priceless reward: Some Christians may think that obeying God is such a sacrifice of our self worth, dignity or is a loss of our self. But it is just the opposite. Jesus promised us the greatest reward of all: His joy. All of us know that happiness is on the outside and is superficial and temporary. But joy, especially that from Jesus, is on the inside and is also eternal. The joy of the Lord is contentment, satisfaction, peace, trust and security in His love. Nothing in this world we may gain may compare to the joy from God when we obey His commands because you know you are doing right.
2) The lasting reward: How many rewards have you won when you were in school, sports or competition? Where are they now and how precious are they to your heart today? I bet you won’t remember most of them. Why is that? It is because they are of no lasting value. They can’t and won’t satisfy your heart or bring you lasting joy. They are incomplete. You always need new rewards to fill that vacuum in your heart. But the joy of the Lord is a different case. His joy is everlasting and complete. You won’t need anything else to fulfill your life and soul.
HERE IS THE COMMAND: LOVE ONE ANOTHER: (v.12-14)
1) Love God is to love people: John gives detailed description of true love in 1 John 4:20-5:2. He says, “For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” And He has given us this command: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” The Bible never tries to qualify which brother deserves our love and which one doesn’t. If God asks that we must be qualified to receive His love, none of us will be qualified. It is never easy to love someone whom we think is not lovable. But it is a command and therefore it leaves no room for negotiation.
2) The ultimate love: lay down your life: Jesus did lay down His life to show His love for us and He asked that we do the same for our family and friends. Laying down one’s life means giving up the most precious part of your life. You don’t have to die for your family, your friends, your neighbors or people at your church or someone whom you have conflict of interest. Let me suggest a few things you may lay down to show your love to that person:
a) Your pride: be humble to know that you are also a sinner.
b) Your right: surrender that to the Lord. Nothing is yours.
c) Your needs: God will provide all your needs.
d) Your desires: God will meet them all. He knows the best.
e) Your anger: God will give you peace and heal your hurt.
f) Your freedom: His truth will set you truly free.
g) Your processions: He will bless you more than you know.
Are you looking for love or you are hurt in a love relationship? The first thing you need to know is there is no true love without God in control. All human loves are conditional and temporal. Do not be surprised or get hurt when your dreams are shattered. Come to God and He will fill up your heart with His love.
Are you feeling empty, insecure or even hopeless? Come and stay in the love of God through your faith in Jesus and He will give you complete and lasting joy.
Are you fighting for your right? Are you angry because someone has hurt you? Is your self esteem or pride hurt? Do you feel no one cares about you? Come to Jesus and He will bind your wounds and make you whole again.
Finally, do you trust God enough to lay down yourself and all you have for someone? Will you trust Him that He will take care of you much more than you can for yourself? Listen to what Jesus has to say, “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. The peace I give to you is not the same as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Come to His love and stay there.