1 John 4:7-12 and John 1:1-18

What does love look like in your life? Does it look like a Hallmark movie? I do like to watch the Hallmark movies because they always end well. For me it’s kind of an escape from real life. Yet that is not what real life is like, is it?

Mom and Dad fight and get divorced, and the children suffer. We judge others by what we believe; thinking they are wrong in what they believe and I am right, without walking a mile in their shoes. I’ve never lived in a world without war. We humans delight in insisting on our own way in everything; greed, power, the need to be in control of others; that’s what causes war and killing.

Yet, there is hope for love; for treating one another with the kind of love which God loves us with. God loves us unconditionally!

Think about that third verse of Silent Night. Son of God, love’s pure light, radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, God loves us with redeeming grace!

1 John 4:10-12, ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’

Everyone believes that love is important, but love is usually thought of as a feeling. In reality, love is a choice and an action. Agape is a Greek word for love. Agape love is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. This is the Emmaus Community theme. Members give up their time and sleep to serve for 72 hours at an Emmaus weekend. Sometimes it is very difficult for humans to love this way; selfless, sacrificially, unconditionally. However, it was not difficult for our Loving Father God.

He loved us enough to sacrifice his Son for us. Jesus is our example of what it means to love; everything he did in life and death signified supernatural supreme love. I don’t know how many of you have a Facebook account, but there has been a picture on there of Jesus’ birth. Mary is sitting exhausted next to a feeding trough. You can tell she’s exhausted by the way her body is drooping and her eyes are closed. All she wants is to rest. Joseph is holding the baby Jesus with a look of wonderment and ‘What do I do now?’ There are just the three of them, and it is evident the last thing they want to do is entertain guests!

Yet according to scripture; the shepherds came to see and left to tell everyone they met, the wonderful news. Did some of the townspeople come? They might have, wondering what all the commotion was about, especially after the shepherds began talking about this wonderous thing that had happened. I don’t know about some of you women, but when I had my babies, the last thing I wanted was guests!

I want to explore for minute what the love of God looks like. God loved his creation; he created us because he wanted someone to be in a loving relationship with. Are you in a loving relationship with God?

God even loves sinful people. Paul had it right when he wrote in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinful, but think about how we judge people, how we insist on our own way, how we resist God’s will for our life. This gift of the freedom of choice, is more of a curse than a gift. We often make the wrong choices and go against God’s will.

The gospel of John 1:1-4, “In the beginning was the Word, (the Word being Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

I believe God, by sending His one and only Son Jesus; loved us into life. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, that was Agape love; selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love.

Jesus lived among humans, He knows what we’re like; yet he died for us anyway. That’s Agape love!

I found a story in the December/January Readers Digest of some parents loving their baby into life. On March 25, 2010, Kate and David Ogg heard the words every parent dreads: Their newborn wasn’t going to make it. Their twins—a girl and a boy—were born two minutes apart and 14 weeks premature, weighing just over two pounds each. Doctors had tried to save the boy for 20 minutes but saw no improvement. His heartbeat was nearly gone, and he’d stopped breathing. The baby had just moments to live.

“I saw him gasp, but the doctor said it was no use,” Kate told the Daily Mail five years later. “I know it sounds stupid, but if he was still gasping, that was a sign of life. I wasn’t going to give up easily.”

Still the Sydney couple knew this was likely goodbye. In an effort to cherish her last minutes with the tiny boy, Kate asked to hold him. “I wanted to meet him and for him to know us,” Kate told Today. “We’d resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to lose him, and we were just trying to make the most of those last, precious moments.”

Kate unwrapped the boy, whom the couple had already named Jamie, from his hospital blanket and told David to take his shirt off and join them in bed. The first-time parents wanted their son to be as warm as possible and hoped the skin-to-skin contact would improve his condition. The also talked to him.

Then something miraculous happened. Jamie gasped again, and then he started breathing. Finally, he reached for his father’s finger. The couple’s lost boy had made it! Eight years later, Jamie and his sister, Emily, are happy and healthy. “We’re the luckiest people in the world,” David told Today.* Jamie’s parents loved that baby into life!

I believe this is what God did; He loved us into life! In John 3:16, we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Do you know the love of God through Jesus? The only way to know how much God loves you is to know Jesus first by reading the Bible. The Bible is God’s 66 love letters to human beings. The other way to know Jesus is to spend one-on-one time with Jesus in prayer. That one-on-one time is very precious time, when you can shut out the world and pour out your heart to Jesus and feel his love. He knows what you’re feeling, but it helps to talk about it, just as it helps to talk to a counselor or keep a prayer journal. Jesus covers you with His grace, pours His love, strength, peace and joy into your heart. It’s precious time. If you haven’t been doing it, I encourage you to start.

God is love and it is through a loving relationship with Jesus that we come to understand that God is love. God loved us into life!

Pastor Rosemary DeHut

References: *LaBianca, Juliana, Life-Giving Touch. December 23, 2018 Readers Digest, December 2018-January 2019, pp. 71-72
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© 2017 White Pine Community United Methodist Church

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