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  • Writer's pictureMinister Jamie Seales

Don't Get Love Wrong

Excerpts from Minister Jamie's sermon on John 15:9-17...


L. O. V. E.  Four letters… And it’s a word we like a whole lot.  In fact, we just had a sermon about love last week.  We are doubling down on love this week because you can’t get through the reading for today and not see how important love is.  We are not talking about who we love, or what we love.  We are concerned today with how we love.  It is so important that we know the difference, and we must not get love wrong. 


I love the Bible. Now you might be thinking, “I'm shocked!”  Being a Christian and a Minister, love of the bible kind of goes with the territory. But loving doesn't come without inspection. I would be remiss if I didn't mention some examples that show how important it is to be judicious in your scriptural usage.  For example, there was a guy who refused to fly because the Bible says, “Lo I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).”  Low!  Or, how about my friend who wanted to start running but was afraid it was against God's will since the Bible declares, “only the morally offensive run when no one is chasing them (Proverbs 28).”


It's not just the way we read the Bible that reveals our hearts. It's also our prayer life. I knew a pastor who was on diet. He said he passed a Krispy Kream, and decided that whether or not to eat a donut couldn't be his will. It must be God's will. So, he took it directly to God. He prayed, “God if it be your will, you will give me an absolute sign.” So, he thought, “I know.  If the second parking space is open when I drive in the lot, I will know it's your will.”  So, he drove in, and on the seventh time around the lot, the second spot was open!  


The Bible is so important, and it's important that we use it in a way to help us along our spiritual journey.  Sometimes we are drawn by things that don't reflect love. The first thing we must do to reflect love is to care about how and what we do impacts others. In our passage last week, we talked about the real vine and abiding in that love. Today we doubled down on love. We aren't just abiding in God's love, but we are to love as we have been loved. Jesus laid down his life for us - that's a steep and costly love.


We often love but at the same time we don't want to be inconvenienced... we love, but our favorite football team loses, and the opposing fan base rubs their face in it. We love, but we are an Israeli sitting next to a Palestinian.  We will print it on our shirt but act in ways that display an attitude contrary to that. Christ says love your neighbor. Christ says love your enemy. Christ says love one another... REALLY love one another.


Several ways we can close the gap between our desire to follow Christ and the reality that we don't act like it are…


1.       Ask yourself, “how do I pray?”  This past week was the National Day of Prayer. Nick Saban was being interviewed at Birmingham’s National Day of Prayer breakfast, and he said, “I would ask the players who say they pray, what do you pray? Do you pray to be blessed? Or do you play to be a blessing?”  To be blessed means to be rewarded for certain good deeds.  It will draw us closer to Christ if we pray, “Lord, help me to be a blessing to somebody.”

 

2.      Be realistic.  There was a Jesuit instructor who began his class with the words, “life is hard.” That seems oddly depressive at first. But if we are giving our lives in service to another we aren't seeking to be served by others, but to serve. If we realize when life is hard and stuff happens, Christ is present.  Christ is with us and for us. Acknowledging the difficult will build empathy because it will make us more sensitive to the needs of another.  

 

3.      Be Open.  Imagine living your whole life believing that certain people are on the outs.  That a certain group of people are enemies of God.  And you hear the spirit poured out upon them!  In one of our readings today (Acts 10:44-48), we hear that the spirit was poured out on the gentiles.  Not on God’s chosen ones.  Not those who kept the traditions, laws, and commandments, and lived their life the “right way”.  God’s spirit poured out on them.  How can that possibly be true?  It is true because it’s not about our race, our ethnicity, our background, how fast we can run, our IQ, or how righteous we are.  It is because we have all been designed by the one who said, “I am love”. 

 

All you who are in Christ, now is the time to dig deep. Now is the time to see that God is love.  Now is time to check ourselves and ask, “am I motivated by the bottom line: Love one another? Or am I motivated by the desire to interpret and twist scripture, theology, and prayer so that I can get that metaphorical DONUT?”


I’m going to close with scripture.


I pray that… Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19


Jesus speaks... love as if your life depends on it. May we have ears to hear and eyes to see his love.

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