Carry Our the Love
1 John 3:16-24New Living Translation (NLT) 16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. 23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
The first time I came to the States was 2007. After the first year in the States, I went back to Korea for two weeks to see my family. That was a year before my mom passed away. I terribly missed my family, food, just everything. So as soon as the summer vacation started, I went back to Korea and in the early morning, I arrived in the Incheon airport, and my friend gave me a ride to home. As opening the front door, my heart was pounding with the expectation that I was going to see my mom, dad, Alexa and Tang, my dod. I missed them so much! I went into the house and Alexa was waiting with a big flower on her head in celebrating of my returning home. She shouted at me with a big smile on her face. Tang, my dog, which was a lot younger than now, really surprised to see me again. Dogs think they did when they cannot see their owner anymore, so I think Tang thought I had died. I still remember Tang looked so surprised and didn’t leave me, sitting right next to me and licking me and staring at me for hours and hours. My mom was not an emotional person. No, she was emotional, but tried not to express her feelings. That morning she didn’t even come to me to give me a hug, just standing in the kitchen preparing breakfast for me. She fixed a mean for me. We gathered all together in a year and had breakfast together. Did I tell you my mom was not a good cook? Upon entering a college, I started gaining weight because there were so many delicious food out there! When I was a high school student, I always had a lunch box that my mom cooked, so I didn’t have much chance to taste other food. This was why I was thine in my teens. But the soup that we had that morning was delicious. Not really tasty, but that taste was the taste I missed so much. I didn’t want other food, but only my mom’s food. That taste was a taste of love. I still remember that morning as one of the most beautiful moments of love in my life. Do you have a moment of love that you miss so much and still remember so vividly?
From last Sunday to next Sunday, we are talking about generosity. Last Sunday, I talked about our talents and gifts that God has given us and the mind of abundance. But to be generous, to live the life of generosity, what do we need in our lives? What do you think we need? I think we all need “love” in our lives to live generously. Don’t you think so?
A little letter written by one of the Jesus’s very best friends, his name was John. At the end of his life and his ministry, he’s looking back, and he is very concerned about his spiritual children. For they, like we have today often, they were experiencing some difficulties in their relationships, too. Because this is in the Bible, it took place long time ago, don’t romanticize the difficulties that were happening when we read the Bible. John is writing to the early church that they had some false teaching that had come into their midst and they had some pressure with it. And it was threatening to break apart this community. They were in the midst of trouble. In today’s passage, John is encouraging them and us how to love God and love one another. In this passage, John is giving us a new definition and understanding of love. To love is to follow Jesus in all of our relationships. That’s what it means to love. That’s it. It is that simple. And yet, I am inadequate. I am in that needing to grow up. I need to grow up into these words because to love means to follow Jesus is an example. And here is the example of Jesus. Let’s look at verse 16 one more time. (slide 1) Let’s read out loud together. This is not about a fairy tale or a hallmark movie story. This is about a real example. John is putting us to look directly at the life of Jesus Christ, and follow his example. Each one of us can personally know this love in our heart. Each of us can then love in that way. We can keep loving others. I believe we are desperate for this. Wouldn’t you agree? We are desperate for it.
Every morning we turn on TV, which many people say they don’t do this anymore because all news is nothing but so much discouraging, everyday we hear lots of tragedies happening all over the world. Everyday. I don’t have TV, but on Facebook I can see what’s happening in the world by reading all my friend pastors and other pastors’ response to the tragedies. Yes, to be honest, it is tiring. I don’t see this discourage us to have a down moment listening to the world in trouble. I want to say we have opportunity as followers of Jesus. Don’t lose heart. Jesus is still on his throne. This is the opportunity that the world standing on tip toes waiting for Jesus’ love to invade on earth. If this happens in all of our relationships, and it spreads to all of the world, this world will be so loving and beautiful. This is actually what John Wesley dreamt of when he talked about holiness. But to make this happen, we get to answer this question first. (slide 2) “How do I love like Jesus?” How do we do this? Let’s do a deep dive, let’s mine out of what John tells the church. And let’s find an answer to this question. At least a starting point of how do we begin to live in our lives, how we love one another. Let’s read this together. (slide 3) “Choose to love courageously.” This is how we begin to follow Jesus’ example. What is the opposite of love courageously? It is love cowardly. After the youth winter camp, I became a Christian and the vacation was over so I went back to school again. Lunch time became the hardest part of a day. I talked about this at the recent Bible study about prayer, kids tend to think going to church is not a cool thing and that sentiment was there when I was going to a high school. I really wanted to give thanks to God, but if I pray, my friends will sneer at me and make fun of me. I didn’t know what to do, so I was like pretending to rub my face with two hands and prayed while rubbing my hands. Friends didn’t know I was praying but I prayed. Now looking back on, I was a coward. I loved God cowardly. I was afraid of getting bullied by my friends. First, what kind of friendship is that? Second, what kind of love that I had toward God is that? I didn’t love and trust my friends enough, and I didn’t love God enough. But you know what? This kind of things have happened in my life so many times ever since that, which I find very painful to admit.
I love God. I really do. I love Jesus. I really want to follow Jesus. But there are times when I’ve gotta afraid then I’ve gone a wall when it comes to loving others. Have you been there? Does that require more than you have to give? So we just turn and run. I’ve done that. It requires more patience than we seem to have? So just run away. I’ve done that many times. See, we need to follow Jesus as an example, and we need to call upon him when we run out of strength. The spirit of the living God. When the spirit of the living God moves us, the Spirit moves all our fears. We can fall on our knees, and we can come to God, and we can find the word that Jesus said to John and the first disciples, are true for us, “Peace be with you. Don’t let your heart be troubled. And do not be afraid.” When we want to be generous to others, friends, church members, colleagues, and even to strangers, we need to be courageous, don’t we? We need to put ourselves out there to love others courageously. Loving people are courageous people. Generous people are courageous people.
(Slide 4) 2. We choose to love compassionately. Let’s look at Johns’ word on this. Let’s read this together. John says, “17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” John is saying that there is an eye test that goes for followers of Jesus whenever we see a person in need, in need of grace, in need of some help, some aid, assistance , some advocacy, whatever that moment comes. There is some eye test takes place. You remember how Jesus tells a story of a good Samaritan, and what makes him good. While others pass on by a man in need broken down side of a road, beaten up. What does the Samaritan do for the man? First, the Bible says, “He sees the man, and he has compassion on him.” How we go for in this is really about how we’re choosing to see. It seems to me. Are we choosing to see people as children of God and people of worth? Are we choosing to see people around us as people who Jesus gave his life for? Generous living means that we have that choice in our lives. It means we don’t fall prey to a sentence that I will often tell myself to let myself off the hook when it comes to loving people. Here it goes. I don’t fee like loving them. That’s what I’d say. Honestly, that’s what I do. Some difficult relationship, difficult situation, I just say, “I don’t feel it.” I don’t feel like loving them. This week I gave my selfish desire a little opportunity to speak. So I sat down with my journal. “Maybe I can just get this out.” So here is what I wrote down. I got honest with God about this selfish feeling about who I’d like to love and who I don’t like to love. Here’s what I came up with. There’s no names. But in general, I feel like loving and I like to love people who love me, who choose to make me feel good about me. That is what I like to love. I like to love people who never try my patience, never ask more than I want to give. I feel like loving people who never make any mistakes, who never have any problems. Aren’t those people great? Don’t you feel like loving them. Those are great people! I like to love people who agree with me, and they don’t force me to have to deal with the complex tension of holding truth and showing grace at the same time. So in summary, I like to love people when it is safe, when it is predictable, it is comfortable, it is enjoyable for me. That’s what I came up with. And I felt bad about myself and now you must feel bad about your pastor, right? That’s not loving with compassion. Following Jesus, to have compassion on others is not led by just feelings. It is led by faith. Our faith in Jesus, following Jesus leads to compassionate love. You and I don’t fall into loving like Jesus. We follow into loving like Jesus. We choose to love like Jesus. See, love is the decision of the will. Just as we decide to love God, we decide to love other people. That is the generous life that God invites us to live. I need to say this courageously. “Jesus, I want to follow you when it comes to loving others.” No turning back. Compassion leads Jesus to love people, even imperfect people like you and me, even it is not easy.
Let’s go to the next slide. (slide 5) You and I choose to love even when it is costly. Can we say that again? We choose to love even when it’s costly. What does it mean to love even when it’s costly? To find the meaning of loving others even when it’s costly, let’s watch a short video. I loved it and it made me tear. I am sure you will love it, too.
In the Bible there was a widow who gave her everything to God. (slide 7) “1 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. (slide 8) 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21:1-4, NLT)
The homeless people whom the guy with $25 gift card met make me ashamed and got me thinking of the meaning of loving others even when it’s costly, aren’t they? When the widow give just two coins in the collection box, when others laugh at her giving such a small amount of money, Jesus sees her heart and knows that she has given everything that she has. She loves God even when it is costly.
To live generous is to love courageously, compassionately, and even when it’s costly. I hope and pray we find our ways to love the generous life that is led by our faith and our love for Jesus Christ, as the followers of Jesus Christ! Thanks be to God! Amen!