16 May 2012
Theme: Connecting with God
Topic: The love of Christ Pt II
Reading: 1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. [13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world.15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.] 17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world.18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.19We love* because he first loved us.20Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters,* are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister* whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters* also.
We will continue our discussion on the topic ‘The love of Christ’ as a follow-up to last week’s study. The emphasis last week was on the characteristics of the Christian love and how we should love in action and not by words. Since God first loved us while we were yet sinners and I dare say, unlovable, sending His Son to die for our sins, will it be asking too much to say that we are all in debt to love? I think we owe love not just to God who first loved us but also to the people we interact with including those that may even hate us. Infact this is God’s greatest and pivotal command to us- love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself. But then one will ask how do we love? As mentioned earlier on, we are called to love in action and if our love is not seen or felt by the intended recipient, then we should have a re-think on what we are actually doing. As God demonstrated His indescribable love to us, we are expected to do likewise. But how?
Questions/Discussion1. How do we love in action?
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.* ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’26He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’27He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’28And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’30Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35The next day he took out two denarii,* gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’37He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
1 John 4:7-12, 17-21See above
2. Do we really have to love those that hate us? Really? If yes, how, and if no, why not?Matthew 5:38-48
‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. 43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same?47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.* Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
3. What are some of the things that make love somewhat difficult to put into practice?Matthew 21:28-32
‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.”29He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went.30The father* went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go.31Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
John 5:36-47, 15:5-12
36But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.37And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 ‘You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.40Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.41I do not accept glory from human beings.42But I know that you do not have the love of God in* you.43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.44How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.47But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’ 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become* my disciples.9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
ConclusionWe are called to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. Just as God first loved us, let us heed the call to love by genuinely loving both God and our neighbors through the things we do.
Closing PrayerLord, we are eternally grateful for Your great love towards all people. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we may be true agents of Your love in our world all the days of our lives. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.