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The Love of Jesus

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(8/17) This morning we are going to be reading about Jesus love in 1 John chapter three.

Now John was the youngest of the disciples and was nicknamed "the one whom Jesus loved." He wrote this and he was there when Jesus died on the cross. He was there when Jesus rose from the grave. He was there when Jesus ascended back into heaven. And John was so aware of the love of Jesus that he couldn’t stop talking about it and it shaped his identity and it transformed his destiny.

In this series we have been exploring the concept of Vision, and it’s important, because when we read the words of Jesus, we sometimes find ourselves looking for loopholes. You see, Jesus made some hard statements. And probably one of the most difficult for us to follow is his command to… "Love one another" (John 13:34). Now if that was all he had said we could try to water it down, but he continued with the phrase, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34)." And that makes it absolutely clear what Jesus meant.

Now for you and me, when we truly understand the love Jesus has for us it reshapes our identity. The love of Jesus changes everything. So, today we’re going to focus on increasing God’s vision for our lives so that we may truly see his love come alive in our lives. Because… and this is important… God takes love seriously. He loves us and he expects us to love one another.

Love therefore, is the most significant quality that we can offer the world. We need to love one another. And I'm not just saying that; I'm quoting Jesus. He said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

So today we’re going to look at three things about the love of Jesus… three ways you can take hold of your horizon… three ways which you can put love into action in your life… as we understand more clearly what it means to be the church, to have a vision for the future, and to grasp how that applies to us today as followers of Christ.

So today we’re going to read in 1 John 3 beginning in verse 11, and here’s how John begins.

"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." NIV

So we’re going to start in Christian kindergarten and the first thing John tells us, like the first thing we tell our kids is… "Love one another. Why? Because Jesus loves us right?" That’s what we tell them. We tell our kids, "Jesus loves me, this I know." We teach them that little song. That’s where it all starts, so today we are going to see that the love of Jesus changes us… the love of Jesus is practical… and third… the love of Jesus is something you do.

In verse 11, John starts with a simple statement… "Love one another." But then he changes gears and he’s like, "Don’t be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you" (1 John 3:12-13).

Do not be surprised… Let me just say this: you won’t be loved by everyone. When John uses the word "world," in verse 13, he’s not just talking about nations, cultures, or tribes. He’s talking about the world system organized in rebellion against God. It is a demonic, evil resistance, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

You see, as followers of Christ, we believe in God’s Word recorded in the Bible… but the world doesn’t. We believe in Jesus… but the world doesn’t. We believe the problem is sin… but the world doesn’t. We believe that the answer is Jesus… but the world doesn’t. So… because Jesus loves us and we love Jesus, we will be hatred by the world.

This world system… Well, let me tell you a little known secret, we worship a guy who got murdered. Jesus was murdered and what that means is that not everyone liked him. As a matter of fact, when a crowd got together and shouted, "Crucify him. Crucify him!" That doesn’t translate in the Greek, "We love him. We love him." It meant, "We hate him. We hate him." So if Jesus was hated by many, then for us to love Jesus, means that we too will be hated by others. So John says, "Do not be surprised… if the world hates you" (1 John 3:13).

Now how many of you would say you love Jesus?

So now you know you’re going to be hated… you’re going to be hated because Jesus loves you... and you’re going to be hated because you love Jesus.

But that’s okay isn’t it? Because the first thing the love of Jesus does…

One: The Love of Jesus Changes Us.

So let me say this, first of all, that God is love. God defines love, God is the definition of love, and God reveals love at the cross of His Son Jesus Christ. That’s what the Bible says.

In love, God sent Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:7-10). To be the substitute, the one who dies in our place for our sins, the one who endures the wrath of God for our Cain-like rebellious tendencies. So every time you think of the love of God, picture the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s where the Bible always points us. And it does, because we have a tendency to misdefine love.

You know, like a boyfriend and girlfriend who’ve been sleeping together and now they want to move in together. Why? Well, it’s not because they’re in love… rebellion against God is not the source of love. Using someone to satisfy your lusts and fulfill your sinful desires is not loving someone.

How many times have you heard of a married couple, they commit adultery, they run off with someone else, and then they make it sound like it was the effect of gravity? "We fell out of love… and then we fell in love with someone else." No, they didn’t. They rebelled against the living God! They betrayed their marriage covenant oath. They chose not to love. And instead chose to hate each other… even declaring war on the God who loves them.

You see, God gives us commands for our good. It’s like a mom who tells the kids, "Don’t touch the stove because its hot. Don’t run with scissors. Be careful in high places." You see God isn’t restricting our freedom. He’s a good Father and if we know that he loves us then we accept that his commands are for our good.

The cross of Jesus is the demonstration, the revelation, and the application of the love of God. That’s why it says in John 3:16, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son." That’s why he says in Romans. "God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

And that’s why John says, "This is how we know what love is… Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16)...." You see, apart from Jesus, no one knows love. Apart from Jesus’ cross, no one has seen love. Love gives and doesn’t take. Love serves and doesn’t seek to be served. And Jesus Christ is the love of God among us. Jesus’ death on the cross is the demonstration of God’s affection.

You see, Jesus never sinned, yet He died as a substitute. He died because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The Bible tells us that. He died in our place. He died for our sins as a demonstration of God’s love for you. So if you’ve ever wondered if God really loves you, just remember, he loved you before you loved him… he loved you when you were a rebel… when you were like Cain, and he won’t love you any less.

If you believe that, like John, I assure you, your identity will be transformed. God can’t love you any more than he did at the cross of Jesus. And He can’t love you any less because of the cross of Jesus. His love is established in eternity. And his love not only forgives your sin, it changes you, so that as you receive God’s love, you’re able to love God and love one another. He is the source of love available to all who would call upon him, who received him, and who believed in his name" (John 1:12).

The second thing about the love of Jesus…

Two: The Love of Jesus Is Practical.

Here’s the big idea. Jesus loves, then we love. Jesus serves, then we serve. Jesus gives, then we give. It starts with Jesus and he changes us so that we can become more like him. You can put love into action in your life, because the love of Jesus is practical. John says it this way in verse 16…

"And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." (1 John 3:16).

Now very rarely will any of you have an opportunity to die for somebody. But some of you either have been or are soldiers, police officers, and firefighters, and God bless you. You put yourself in harm’s way. You may actually die for someone else to live. You really are living out of the image and likeness of God as you love and protect others.

Now you and I, we may never get an opportunity to die for someone to demonstrate our love for one another in church. But what John’s saying here is that since most of us will not have an opportunity to give our life in death, we need to give our life in living. That’s what he says, we need to give our life in living. Look at verse 17, he continues, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him" (1 John 3:17)?

So let me just ask you this… what do you have? Just think about it for a moment. Do you have any material possessions? If your insurance company had you make a list. You know like your home, your food, your income, your vehicle, whatever you’ve got. Look at your stuff. What John’s talking about here is a love that’s exceedingly practical.

An expert in Jewish law once came to Jesus and asked him how to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what the law said. The man answered, "Love God with all your heart and… love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus replied, "You have answered correctly" (Luke 10:27-28). Then the man looking for a loophole asked, "And who is my neighbor?" I imagine he was hoping Jesus would say, "Only people in your immediate family or maybe people of your community." But instead, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, which teaches us, among other things, that our neighbor is anyone we have the ability to help.

So we see that love is really practical. Love keeps its eyes open and looks for a need. And some of you are very loving. You’re looking for needs, because if you love somebody, you look for ways to help them, to serve them, and to care for them.

Those of you who are parents or have younger siblings know how that is. You know, when they need something to drink… they fell down… they’re crying… they need you to hold them. You see, that’s what love does, it’s always looking. Where am I needed? How can I help?

If you really love another, you’ve already figured out what the little needs are, the unspoken needs, and you’re attentive to the details. That’s love. Love is attentive to the details, amen? The love of Jesus is real practical.

The third thing I want to share with you is…

3. The Love of Jesus is Something You Do.

Now the chances are practically zero that you'll be called on to die for anyone. I mean let’s face it, our lives just aren't that adventurous, but I can guarantee you something that just might be more difficult. You will be inconvenienced. You will be called upon to do something.

When it happens, how will you handle it? Will you open your hands and do what you can, even when it's not easy? You know, if a friend needs a ride to work every day for a week or a month? What if your neighbor needs help fixing his lawnmower? What if the boss asks you to work late? What if the church needs you to help in the nursery, to chaperone the youth group, or to visit someone in the hospital? This is not laying down your life… it's worse! Because you’ll likely live to tell about it. It means that you share yourself, your resources, your time, your talents, wherever you have the opportunity.

John says in verse 18, "Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18).

He reminds us that love isn't merely a feeling, it's something you do. As a matter of fact, country singer Clint Black sings a song along these same lines. One verse says...

Love isn't something that we're in… It's something that we do.

Another verse says...

Love isn't just the words we said… It's something that we do.

Now I don't know where Clint Black got his inspiration, but it could have come from 1 John, because John teaches that love is an action more than a feeling. That love is living with your eyes wide open. And when your eyes are open, your heart opens, and your like, "How can I help. Here are some groceries… You’re a single mom who needs a car, I have an extra car... Dad walked out, you’re doing double duty, and I gotta figure out how to help."

Galatians 6:10 says it this way, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

For some of you, maybe it’s time to get your hands dirty. You’ve got to see that love is something you do. You see, for most of us, the problem has nothing to do with our schedule. It has nothing to do with our budget. It has everything to do with our hearts. We’ve closed our eyes and we’re not looking for needs that need to be met.

If you’re a Christian and this is your church, God wants you to open your eyes, it’s an act of repentance, to start looking for needs, to pray for and bless others, to give, to help, to be inconvenienced, and to invest in others. That’s exactly what John’s talking about.

And this is all for your joy. You see, when we receive Jesus’ love, his love changes us, his love is practical, and when we start to love one another, it’s more than words, it’s something you do. It’s something that produces in us a profound joy because the Bible says it’s "more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). That’s what Jesus said. So you know what that means? The happiest person is Jesus Christ. Because no one has given more than Jesus and as we close we’re going to remember how much he gave.

We’re going to celebrate communion together. Remembering that Jesus lived the life that was blameless. Jesus paid the price that was priceless. Jesus died the death that was required and He rose to love you before you loved him, to pursue you, before you pursued him. And his love doesn’t just excuse your sin, he forgives it. His love does not permit your sin to continue, he permits you to walk away from it and to change, one day at a time until you see him face-to-face and you’re perfect in his presence forever.

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