Sunday, March 06, 2011

Enlightened Love

Enlightened Love

Intro.: I want to preach about love this morning.

  1. One obvious choice for a text would be John 3:16.

  2. Martin Luther called John 3:16 “the heart of the Bible – the Gospel in miniature.”

  3. But there is problem – G. Campbell Morgan, an early 20th century Congregational pastor, once said, “... this is a text I never attempted to preach on, though I have gone around it and around it. It is too big. When I have read it, and there is nothing else to say. If we only knew how to read it, so as to produce a sense of it in the ears of people, there would be nothing to preach about.”

  4. Henry Morehouse claimed to have 600 outlines based on John 3:16. As an evangelist, it was the one text that he used as he preached.1

  5. So, rather than using John 3:16, as you might expect, I will return to I John.

Read: I John 2:9-11 Pray

Trans: As we continue to think about love, I was reminded this week of a conversation that Jesus had with a young lawyer.

What is the greatest commandment?’ the young lawyer asked the Master.

And Jesus said, ‘How do you read it?’

Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind and strength,’ the lawyer answered.

That’s it,’ Jesus said. ‘And the second is like unto it: Love thy neighbor as thyself’ (Matthew 22:36–39).

T.S. John uses two examples to help us better understand the relationship between Love and God.

  1. The first example shows that claiming to be a member of the family of God yet hating a fellow believer means we are actually walking in darkness.

    1. At one level this is obvious – if we cannot love another believer, then something is out of whack in our relationship with God.

    2. Yet it does get confusing.

    3. It was confusing for the people to whom John wrote. In the first century after Christ's death, there were a group of false teachers that claimed that how one lived was not important – what was important was to be enlightened - having the right knowledge.

    4. John's response to these false teachers was – if you claim to live in the light, yet do not love your brother, your Christian brother, you are still walking in darkness.

    5. We live in a culture that confuses light and darkness. It becomes easy to say, “What I do is what God wants, I live in the light.”

(Ill.) Bill and Gloria Gaither describe the time in which they wrote one of their favorite songs, “Because He Lives”: We wrote “Because He Lives” after a period of time when we had had a kind of dry spell and hadn’t written any songs for a while.... Also at the end of the 1960’s, when our country was going through some great turmoil with the height of the drug culture and the whole “God Is Dead” theory which was running wild in our country and also at the peak of the Vietnam War, our little son was born,—Benjy—at least Gloria was expecting him. And I can remember at the time we thought, “Brother, this is really a poor time to bring a child into the world.” At times we were even quite discouraged by the whole thing. And then Benjy did come. We had two little girls whom we love very much, but this was our first son, and so that lyric came to us, “How sweet to hold our new-born baby and feel the pride and joy he gives, but better still the calm assurance that this child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.” And it gave us the courage to say “Because Christ lives we can face tomorrow” and keep our heads high, and hopefully that could be of meaning to other people.3

    1. The standard is not what I do, the standard is not what you do. The standard is what God wants. And God says I am to love my brother.

  1. The second example clearly shows that one who loves his brother does abide in the light.

    1. The first example was negative – it focused on a person who would not love his or brother.

    2. This next example is much more positive – one who does love his or her brother.

    3. Have you asked yourself what abiding in the light really means? Let me suggest three things:

      1. It means we see where I have been. Each of us have events in our past – events that we would just as soon forget. But when God makes us aware of them, when God illuminates the truth, those events are bathed in His grace. We can know His forgiveness – the past is now in Gods hands not ours. We can let it go and leave it with God.

      2. It means we really see things as they are. Not only do we see things as they are, but we see things as God sees them. We can see the broken world that God sees. We see our neighbors as God sees them - with their joys and pains. And we see ourselves as God sees us – we know that we are broken people, broken people loved by God.

      3. Light also more clearly shows me where we are going. One of Sandra's favorite verses in scripture is Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

    4. The last part of these verses reminds us that when we live in darkness, we are in reality blinded.

    5. And, John says, when we are in the light, he mentions a blessing: for the person who walks in the light, “...there is no cause for stumbling.

      1. We will not cause others to stumble. In Romans, Paul says, “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

(Ill.) Both Paul and John use the same word – the Greek word is the one from which we get our English word scandalous. We do not want to be a stumbling block – we do not want to bring scandal into someone else's life.

      1. But we also “have no cause for stumbling.” As a believer, God will direct us, will allow us to see where we are going. And so, if we live in the light, it means we will be where God wants us to be!

(Ill.) Stumble is really too light a word. Let me put it into perspective. I remember the first time I actually fell. I was attending a workshop in the midwest – and we were on our way to lunch. The quickest way to get to the area restaurants we had to walk down a grass berm to reach a side walk. I made that trips many times – but for whatever reason, I tripped and went down. I stumbled! Though nothing seemed seriously wrong, I was sore. It was that stumble and a numbness in my feet that sent me in for my first MRI, and a second, which eventually led to my diagnosis of MS. It changed my life – not as much as some, but different none-the-less. The stumble had nothing to do with the MS, but it began a process that would slow me down in many ways.

To “have no cause for stumbling” is to live a life that is full of God's power, full of God's grace.



1Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

2Courson, J. (2003). A Day's Journey : 365 Daily Meditations from the Word. Santa Ana, CA: Calvary Chapel Publishing.

3Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 More Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985.

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