Love—the basic message Rev. Samuel Gyau Obuobi Sunday Service

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5.43-48 ESV)

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide him? (1 John 3.11-18 ESV)

Last week we spoke about loving God
Last week, by the grace of God, we started talking about love. The Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest of the commandment was and he answered an said to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength. The second was to love our neighbors as ourselves. We looked at the first aspect of it and that was loving the Lord with our heart, soul, spirit, mind, and strength. Today, we want to look at the second leg of Jesus’ answer. The second leg is loving your neighbor as yourself.

Let what you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the father and the Son and the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. (1 John 2.24-25 ESV)

For this message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3.11 ESV)

As you may be aware, 1 John was written by John, the apostle, also known as John, the beloved apostle. He wrote the gospel according to John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and also the book of Revelation. There are two important things in the scriptures we have read that I want to highlight.

The first thing is in 1 John 2.24-25. God expects what we have heard from the beginning to abide in us. When that happens, we too will abide in the father and the son. The condition for being able to abide in the father and the son is to let what we have heard from the beginning to abide in us. But there is a question: What have we heard from the beginning?

The second scripture, 1 John 3.11, answers that. It says that loving one another is the message we heard from the beginning. The message we heard from the beginning is the message of love so we should let that message abide in us. We can therefore say that loving one another is one of the basic messages we have received from the Lord and he requires us to love one another.

So, today, I am going to handle the subject of love. I pray that there will be love among us; that we would be bound together with the chains of love, which cannot be broken. Bible scholars and researchers have come up with various types of love:

Four types of love: storge, philia, eros, and agape
1. Storge: family love; the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children and among siblings.
2. Philia: love among friends.
3. Eros: natural attraction between males and females; tt is also used to describe sexual or romantic love. This kind of love is not expected to be awakened when one is not married

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. (Song of Solomon 8.4 ESV)

The fourth type of love is agape. It is used to refer to God’s kind of love. It is unconditional love. It is the kind of love that Jesus had which brought him to die on the cross. He was motivated by agape when he went to the cross.

Four things the Lord has laid on my heart concerning agape
1. This kind of love is sincere
This means it is without deceit and pretense. There is no pretension in this kind of love. These days there is a lot of pretense in love but the kind of love we are talking about has no pretense. This was the kind of love between Jonathan and David.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18.1 ESV)

2. This kind of love is neither partial nor discriminatory
It is not selective but embraces all, irrespective of background or class. It is not based on factors like tribe, education, social class or status, or things like that. It is a kind of love that embraces everybody. This is the kind of love that Jesus had for us. If God had discriminated, some of us would not have been included. When Jesus was on earth, he demonstrated love and did not discriminate. That is why he could relate to both the rich and the poor. There is a reason for everything written in the Bible. It is written that Jesus went to the house of Simon the leper. That description was given because they wanted us to know the kind of person Simon was. It is because he loved sinners that Mary Magdalene, who was full of demons, could come to him. The children were also coming to Jesus and the disciples wanted to stop them but he rebuked them and said they should allow them.

We see a lot of discrimination but we claim to love. We restrict our love to people who speak our language or share our profession. The love we are talking about means opening your arms to everybody irrespective of class. We were nowhere near God’s class for him to love us. He is the creator; we are the created. He is God; we are men. He took the sand of the earth and formed us but he came down because of love. How dare we discriminate in our love? We must dismantle every class and embrace all, not looking down on anyone. Love is not love until it is shared with the unlovable. I have a sense within me that there is a lot of discrimination and partiality in the system.

3. There is no fear in love
When I tell someone that I love him, there is no fear but there is a lot of fear among us.

4. This kind of love is not selfish
When there is sincere love among us there is no selfishness. If it doesn’t come to me but goes to my brother, I support him.  Do you know that some people wish other people failed? They wish that others would fail for them to come. But if one of us fails, all of us have failed. In the time of David and Jonathan, Jonathan should have become king but, because of love, he was ok with David taking his place.

Four things the Lord laid on my heart concerning love
When this message came, I decided to read through the Bible to see what it says about love. As I read, I came across so many things it says and four touched my heart so I will give you those and let you go discover the rest as homework.

1. Love is an indicator that we have been born of God and we know him
God is love. When you are born of God, his seed of love is sown in you. So one of the indicators that you have been born of God and know him is your love for humanity.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4.7-12 ESV)

God gave birth to us so we must resemble him. His seed and DNA are in us. If God has really given birth to you, his seed of love must be found in you. As you keep loving, people may break your heart and insult you and do all manner of things to you. But remember how Jesus was beaten. Don’t give up because of discouragement and disappointment from men.

2. It is by love that we know we are his disciples
A disciple is supposed to reflect the life of his master. It is by loving one another we can know we are disciples of Jesus Christ. One of the ways we can possess the nations is by showing love to the world. The world wants to know who Jesus is but they cannot find him. The love of Jesus must be found in you. When you love, the world will know that, indeed, you are disciples of Jesus.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15.12 ESV)

3. God’s standard for love is not only to love people you know or those who will love you back but to love your enemies
When you talk about this, people say, “But David prayed against his enemies;” but David is not your standard. They will say, “Even Paul prayed against…” but Paul is not your standard. Jesus says to love our enemies as the first scripture above, Matthew 5.43-48, says.

If we are to love even those who hate us then we have no reason not to love each other—we drink from the same cup and eat from the same table. We have to be knit together as people who deeply love one another with all sincerity. May we be bound with each other with chains of love that cannot be broken.

4. Love is demonstrated
How will I know that someone loves me? It is by what he does, what he says, and how he treats and handles me. Love is something we don’t see, except through action. God demonstrated his love to us by sending Jesus to die for us. (Romans 5.8) Sacrifice a little time for your brother. When you are praying, sacrifice a little time for your brother and pray for him.  Sacrifice a little time and visit someone. Visit that brother or sister who is grieving. When it is someone’s wedding, sacrifice a little time and come. Sacrifice a little time and attend someone’s funeral. You may not have money to build a mansion for someone you love but just a smile is enough.

Another way to demonstrate your love is to forgive.

Read 1 Corinthians 13 and list the attributes of love one by one and send it to me by email.

Main references
Matthew 5.43-48, 1 John 3.11-18, 1 John 2.24-25

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