What the World Needs Now is Love, Love in the Truth
II Jn 1:1-3
1 The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth-- and
not I only, but also all who know the truth--
2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love. (NIV)
Truth and love are frequently discussed in our world but seldom practiced.
From politicians to salesmen, people conveniently ignore or conceal facts and use words to enhance positions or sell products. Perjury is common, and integrity and credibility are endangered species. Words, twisted in meaning and torn from context, have become mere tools for ego building. It is not surprising that we have to "swear" to tell the truth.
And what about love? Our world is filled with its words: Popular songs, greeting cards, media counselors, and romantic novels shower us with notions and dreams of ethereal, idyllic relationships and feelings. We love everything from hot dogs to grandma. Real love, however, is scarce--selfless giving, caring, sharing, and even dying. We yearn to love and be loved but see few living examples of real love. Even in the Christian community we find that there are deficits in the examples of love. Plentiful are those who grasp, hoard, and watch out for "number one."
Christ is the antithesis of society's prevailing values, that is, falsehood and self-centeredness--for he is truth and love in person. Therefore, all who claim loyalty to him must be committed to these ideals--following the truth and living the truth, reflecting love and acting with love toward one another.
The apostle John had seen Truth and Love firsthand--he had been with Jesus. So affected was this disciple that all of his writings, from the Gospel to the book of Revelation, are filled with this theme: Truth and love are vital to the Christian and are inseparable in the Christian life.
A young man spent an entire evening telling a girl how much he loved her. He said that he could not live without her; that he would go to the ends of the earth for her; yes, go through fire for her, or die for her. However, on leaving, he said, "I'll see you tomorrow night if it doesn't rain." How often we say we love God yet deny it by our actions. Christ will give His crown of life only to those who love Him in deed and in truth.
The book of Hosea is a beautiful yet tragic story of one of God's prophets who was instructed to take a wife who was a prostitute and very immoral. It seems they had three children before Hosea's wife returned to her former life. We do not know how long she stayed in that condition. But finally one day Hosea receives a command from God to go to the market where the slaves are being sold because his wife Gomer in on the slave block. Hosea goes and buys her back as one would a slave. Do you see the situation. Here we have a woman who has forsaken her faithful and loving husband for what she is sure will bring her happiness. Instead she is used by the men who cast her aside as a worthless piece of clothing. When she has lost all of her appeal she is to be sold to the highest bidder. But who shows up to bid but Hosea. Where were all her lovers, those whose company she had reveled in these last months or years. Who was it who really loved her? Only Hosea loved her and not for what he could get out of her. Hosea tells her that she must remain celibate for a long time for not even Hosea will make use of the one thing she thought she had going for her.
You may say why would God have someone do those things. It displays God's love for us.
Today 40% of first marriages end in divorce. Why? Because they do not love each other any more. They cannot imagine what it was they saw in this person to marry them. To most people love is a feeling, an emotion that is an indicator of the relationship.
Love is rather a decision that will affect the emotions. That in love feeling only last a couple of years. That is why many marriages last such a short time. The saddest thing is that the Christian community does not do any better than the world. It is because we have bought into the world's thinking.
A couple will come my office. One of them knows the marriage is in trouble, the other one has emotionally ended the marriage weeks or months ago. They are just two people living in the same house. More like roommates than anything else. The one knows that they have been having problems but doesn't understand why. The other has moved on, cutting their losses. Many times there is a second person involved, because when you stop feeling loved, there is a natural tendency to look elsewhere to find that need met.
I knew a wonderful young couple. It was obvious the husband loved the wife, but it was also obvious that the wife doubted the husband's love. She went somewhere else to get her love needs met. His friends all told him to dump her and get someone else. There are a lot of fish in the sea, they said.
It is no wonder we have people who have 3, 4 or even 5 marriages. Now I do not say these things to condemn. I say them to let us see what a mess we are in even in the church.
I knew a man who had pastured probably 40 years who betrayed his wife and family because he forgot that love is a decision.
Now can God use people like this. Well in John 4 there was a woman who had had five husbands and the man she now had was not her husband. But Jesus loved her and brought her into the kingdom and used her to bring a whole multitude to salvation.
1 Cor 13
Jonathan deserves to be called the "prince of friends." He was the son of the king and the heir-apparent to the throne. Suddenly David looms upon the horizon with his beauty, his courage, and that nameless magnetism and heroism that surrounded him and marked him as the coming leader of the people. A small man would have been insanely jealous. An ordinarily wise and good man might have been expected to have nothing to do with David, though he yielded to him the crown. But Jonathan was a rare soul. He cast all ambition out of his heart, and his soul was linked to David's. Their friendship lights up the pages of a warlike and corrupt time. It was a golden thread that runs through all the later years of the story of Saul's reign. David was worthy of the friendship, and cared for Jonathan's crippled son with the tenderness of a father. Great friendships can grow up only between large and generous natures.
The most important thing that you can learn in life is that God never stops loving you!
--Peter denied being one of the disciples, but God loved him (Matt. 26:70).
--The mothers and their small children were a problem for the disciples, but God loved them (Matt. 19:14).
--The woman at the well had had five husbands but God loved her (John 4:9).
No matter what your life has been like, He still loves you! How much do you love God?
In Brooklyn one day I met a young man passing down the streets. At the time the war broke out the young man was engaged to be married to a young lady in New England, but the marriage was postponed. He was very fortunate in battle after battle, until the Battle of the Wilderness took place, just before the war was over. The young lady was counting the days at the end of which he would return. She waited for letters, but no letters came. At last she received one addressed in a strange handwriting, and it read something like this--"There has been another terrible battle. I have been unfortunate this time; I have lost both my arms. I cannot write myself, but a comrade is writing this letter for me. I write to tell you you are as dear to me as ever; but I shall now be dependent upon other people for the rest of my days, and I have this letter written to release you from your engagement." This letter was never answered. By the next train she went clear down to the scene of the late conflict, and sent word to the captain what her errand was, and got the number of the soldier's cot. She went along the line, and the moment her eyes fell upon that number she went to that cot and threw her arms round that young man's neck and kissed him. "I will never give you up," she said. "These hands will never give you up; I am able to support you; I will take care of you." My friends, you are not able to take care of yourselves. The law says you are ruined, but Christ says, "I will take care of you."
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com