What Jesus said about Love

May 6, 2012

Last month our focus was “What
Jesus Said About Money” and money is something that affects all of us in one
way or another.  Some of us because we
have it and others of us because we don’t. 
And last week at the end of the series we had Step Up Sunday and we
asked folks to make a financial commitment for the upcoming year.  And many of you took the challenge and
committed to increase your giving over last year, thank you so much. 
Now we are going to take a wee
bit of a turn, over the next month and a half I’m going to be looking at “What
Jesus Said About Our Emotions”.  And we
are all emotional creatures.  Some more
so than some but we all have emotions.  And
sometimes it makes us question one another when others don’t feel like we
feel.  And so questions are asked like
“Do you have to be so emotional?” or the converse “Don’t you have any
emotions?”  And the answers are “yes” and
“no”. 
For those who wear their hearts
on their sleeves they do have to be so emotional, that’s the way they are
wired.  And for those who don’t show
their emotions all the time, that doesn’t mean they don’t have emotions they
just don’t show them. 
People who have no emotions are
sociopaths, they don’t love, they don’t grieve, they don’t feel joy or
sorrow.  But that isn’t the way it is
supposed to be, we were created as emotional beings.  From the very first stories of creation we
see Adam and Eve as creatures of emotion.  
God created man, but then said it was not good for man to be alone.  So there was the emotion of loneliness, then God
created woman and the man felt joy, and probably other emotions too but we
won’t get into that.   They ate the
forbidden fruit because of envy, they wanted what they didn’t have and what God
did, then after they realized they had been deceived by the devil they felt
afraid, and when they were confronted over their behaviour they felt guilt and then
shame. 
And it is emotion that moves us
to action, whether good action or bad action is up to us but action nevertheless.  It was Carl Jung who said “There can be no transforming of
darkness into light, and of apathy into movement, without emotion.”
So from now until the middle of
June we are going to be looking at “What
Jesus Said About Emotions” 
Love, anger,
joy, fear and self-esteem.  Because we
can’t ask Jesus to be in control of our lives unless he is also in control of
our emotions.   We can’t just box that
area of our life up and call it out of bounds to God.  We can’t tell God “You can have control over
all areas of my life except for my emotions.” 
We can’t declare our emotions “out of bounds” or “off limit” to his
Lordship.   We can’t justify how we feel
about things and how we react to things as simply “The way I was made” or the
“Way I was born, I can’t help myself.”
Remember
when we commit ourselves to a life of following Jesus that he defined it as
“Being born again”, so while we may justify our behaviour as “the way I was
born”  it doesn’t have to be part of your
new birth.  And the excuse of “I’ve always
been like that” doesn’t cut it in light of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who
belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has
begun!
So, where
should we start?
Almost thirty years ago Tina Turner
had a hit song with “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”  In the case of Christianity love has
everything to do with it. 
Christianity was birthed in love
was shaped by love and continues to be defined by love.  But what is love? 
If you asked a dozen people what
love was you would probably get a dozen different answers.  And most of those answers would relate to how
someone feels about someone else.  It was
Woody
Allen who said “I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love
or I had smallpox.”  And so for
most of us love is a feeling, an emotion and it’s hard to control or harness
our emotions.  And that’s why people can
fall in love with someone and then fall out of love with the same person.  And so if we don’t have an emotional bond
with someone than we don’t feel that we can love them. 
We bandy the word love around like it’s just a collection of
letters but it is so much more than that.  
And you will hear people say they love this or they love that.  But they can’t really love a reality show the
same way they love their mother.  They
can’t love pizza the way they love God. 
The Greek language however has several different words that
are used to convey love for different things. 
First there is Eros, which is a sensual love, a passionate love.  So my love for Angela is Eros.   The next form of love was Philio and
this is the warm fuzzy feeling we have for those nearest and dearest to us.  It is Philio that I feel for Reg Thomas who
has been my best friend since 1974.   This is friendship.  Have you ever wondered why Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly
love?  Then there is Storge, and
this is affection, what you feel for your family members.  This is the emotion that I feel for my
parents and my children. 
When Jesus talks about loving my neighbour, and loving other
Christians and loving my enemies he doesn’t expect me to love them like I love
Angela, or Reg or Stephen and Deborah. 
Instead he uses the word Agape.  And agape is less a feeling of the heart and more
a feeling of the mind.  It is as much an
act of the will as it is an act of the emotions.  It is a choice we make.   It is why Jesus can tell us to love our
enemies.  It is a conscious action,
something that you decide to do and something that you cannot do without the
power of the Holy Spirit in your life. 
Remember the sum of Jesus teaching is to Love God and to
Love Others.  Which is why when there is
a disaster, on the other side of the world, happening to people we don’t know
and might not like if we did know them Christian relief organizations are there
firstest with the mostest.  And you have
to wonder what would happen if everyone lived by those principles?
It was Napoleon Bonaparte who wrote “Alexander,
Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we
rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire
upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”  And the foundation of Jesus’
teaching?  Love for God and Love for
People.
So it goes
back to: what is love?  And I think we
all know what love is supposed to be but that seems way too hard so we try to
define what love is and what love isn’t. 
Do you
remember the story of the Good Samaritan? 
Do you remember how it started?  A
man came to Jesus and asked the question Luke 10:25 One day an expert in
religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher,
what should I do to inherit eternal life?”   And so Jesus said you know what you
are supposed to do, what is it the Law says? 
And the man replied by saying Luke 10:27 The man answered, “‘You must
love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength,
and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”   
Simple
enough right?  That must be what Jesus
thought because he replies by saying Luke 10:28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”   Simple, right?  Apparently not because in the next verse we
read Luke 10:29 The man wanted to justify his
actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”   And that’s when Jesus told the story
of the Good Samaritan ending with the question Luke 10:36-37 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbour to the man
who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed
him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”  Simple, right?  Obviously not as simple as one would think
because throughout the New Testament love is constantly being defined, spelled
out and clarified. 
Jesus told those who choose to
follow him in John
14:15
“If you love me, obey my commandments.”
  So
what are those commandments?  Luke 18:20 Jesus
said “But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must
not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not
testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”
And so Jesus told us that You Love People By Not Doing Things to Them  This is probably the easiest way to
define love and the easiest way to display love.  Love does no wrong to others. 
We have all heard about the
Hippocratic Oath, even if we don’t know what all is in the Hippocratic Oath,
and what we do know is delivered through television and is wrong.  We hear TV Doctors say “remember what it says
in the Hippocratic Oath “First do no harm”” 
but that isn’t in the Hippocratic Oath, that is just an old Latin
saying. 
The Hippocratic Oath is the Oath historically
taken by Doctors and it was written by a Greek Doctor named Hippocrates 400
years before the birth of Christ.  And
the first part of the oath states:  I will
prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my
judgment and never do harm to anyone.
So really if we took a similar
oath to never harm anyone we would be well on the way to being a loving person.  A good part of Love is not harming
people.  Physically or emotionally. 
When Paul was defining love for
the early Christ Followers in Rome he reached back into the Ten Commandments
and pulled out four of the last five commandments Romans 13:9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must
not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such
commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbour as
yourself.”  So from this reference
anyway love seems pretty simple.  You
demonstrate your love to your spouse by not sleeping around on them.  You show you love to your annoying neighbour
by not choking them to death while they sleep or poisoning their
strawberries.  You show your love to the
rich man down the street by not stealing his shiny new car.  And you do this by not coveting what doesn’t
belong to you, not his wife, not his life and not his possessions.    
But when you stop and think about
it, if that is all there is to loving someone all you would have to do is avoid
them.  If you have no contact with people
then you will not steal from them, lie to them, murder them etc. etc. 
By that definition of love the
first two men who came upon the traveller in the story of the Good Samaritan
loved the man, because they did not kill him, they did not steal from him or
lie to him or rush home to sleep with his wife.
So the most loving people in the
world would be the hermits who retreat from society, and maybe that’s why they
do it.  It’s just easier to be nice to
people when there are no people around to annoy you. 
But for most of us that’s not an
option.
So in the real world our love
is not only defined by how you don’t behave, more importantly it is shown by
what we do do.  Luke 6:27 “But to you who
are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.”  And so Jesus told us that  You
Love People by Doing Things For Them 
If
it was just in not doing bad things then we could love our enemies by ignoring
them, but Jesus actually tells us to do good to those who hate us.   Probably the greatest definition of love
written is in 1 Corinthians 13 and this is what Paul writes 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own
way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It
does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love
never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every
circumstance.
This is how we show love in the
everyday, nitty-gritty world we live in. 
This is how we display the love we show to our family our friends and
the strangers we come in contact with every day.  Maybe it could simply be redefined as
respect. 
It is more about what you do do
than what you don’t do. In this case love becomes work.  It goes beyond avoiding a problem and it
corrects the problem.
It is love that forgives, it is
love that goes the extra mile, it is love that prepares meals for Ronald
McDonald House, and love that puts on work clothes and helps clean up the back
yard at Phoenix house or helps paint rooms at Adsum house.  It’s love that writes the cheque for World
Hope or World Vision when there is a need on the other side of the world.
And it’s the little things,
holding the door for someone when you go into a store, from my vantage point at
Tim’s I am amazed at how few people exhibit even that basic common
courtesy.  Giving someone a break in
traffic, giving the homeless guy a buck and not lecturing him on his behaviour,
how about giving someone a smile.  Carol
Burnett said that her philosophy in life came from Beverly Sills who said “I’m not always
happy, but I always try to be cheerful.”
It’s easy to
love those who love us, Jesus tells us that in Luke 6:32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for
that? Even sinners love those who love them! Hitler probably loved his
mother. 
But this
isn’t about loving the high profile sinners, the Paul Bernardos in life, or the
crazy pig farmer from BC, well it is kind of but that is pretty abstract. 
This is
about demonstrating the love of Christ to those we come into contact with every
day, the staff at Tim Horton’s, the homeless guy on the street, the person you
work with, your spouse and your kids. 
How about
the parent who abused you?  The boss that
passed you over for promotion?  The bully
who picks on you?  What about the jerk
that cuts you off in traffic or has 12 items in the 10 item express lane.   
Luke 6:33-35 And if you do good only to
those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!
And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get
credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your
enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then
your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as
children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and
wicked.  Not just avoid doing them
harm but do good to them.
That’s
tough, and it will be a choice that you make, you will either do it or you
won’t do it.
Lets’ go
back to the scripture that was read earlier, where Jesus told his apostles John 13:34-35 So now I am giving you a new
commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each
other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my
disciples.”
And finally Jesus
said Your  Love Defines Who You Are  People will recognize you by what you do
and don’t do.
Jesus told
us that when people see our love they will know that we belong to him.  Do they? 
And John writes in 1 John 3:14
If we love our Christian
brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a
person who has no love is still dead.  And Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:8 Most important of all,
continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
And I know
as Christians that we blow it from time to time and there are always people
around to point a finger and say “and you call yourself a Christian”.  And that’s good because we need to be
reminded occasionally that we do call ourselves Christians and with that comes
responsibilities. And the greatest responsibility that we have as a Christ
follower is to demonstrate his love through the way we live.  “Your love will prove to the world that you
are my disciples.” 
Because
ultimately Jesus said that people would know that we follow him, not by our
wealth, and not by our theology, or by the translation of the Bible we read, or
the church we attend or the T-shirt we wear but by the way we love.  And you say “that sounds hard.”  It is hard; if it was easy everybody would be
doing it. 
So the
bottom line is this “If people had to guess who you were following by your life
and your behaviour what would their first guess be?”
Every one of
us is older today then we were yesterday, and yesterday is gone, you can’t
change how you loved people yesterday but you can decide how you are going to
love them today and tomorrow.
And so I close with the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh 
“Love is a force that enables you to give other things. It is the
motivating power. It enables you to give strength, freedom and peace. It is not
a result; it is a cause. It is not a product, it produces. It is a power, like
steam or electricity. It is valueless unless you can give something else by
means of it.”