God is Love
God is love.
In 1 John 4:16, St. Paul writes, "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
There are different kinds of love that we experience in the world, but the most important love is the unconditional love of God. God's love transcends and persists regardless of circumstances.
The prophet Hosea discovered the love of God and how forms and guarantees of the law are inadequate to express the ways in which God is bound to his people. Hosea is told by the Lord, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins" (Hosea 3:1). The image of adultery is used frequently to describe the faithlessness of God's people. When we vainly follow after false gods and false promises we have devoted our hearts to another. When we are caught, we may feel like staying in the shadows because we feel we don't deserve to be seen. Shame keeps us in the darkness. But God calls us to bring to light our weaknesses and trust in him to be our salvation. God's love persists regardless of our circumstances. Have faith in God's love.
In February our sermon series will look at 1 John 4 and experience how God's love is unconditional, meets us where we are at, and equips us to love others. Also on February 8 and 9, our worship services will celebrate the couples that are celebrating a wedding anniversary that ends in a 0 or a 5. Finally, February 26, the people of Our Shepherd will be invited to turn in a commitment card that will share how they plan to participate in the love of God for the people of our community. If you have been in a church for a while, you might recognize that this sounds like a stewardship series. You would be right, but this series is a lot less about money and a lot more about love and how we share it.
Stewardship or sanctification are two words that are used in the church to describe how we respond to the love of God.
How well do we love? Poorly. We will forsake the love of God to love this present world's momentary rewards. We will love the praise of men more than the praise of God. Jesus told Nicodemus, "that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
C. S. Lewis wrote that charity and agape love (unconditional love of God) are synonyms, acts of love for another that happen regardless of circumstances. This selfless love is the greatest of the four loves, and specifically should be nurtured as a Christian virtue. Agape love is the only love that is self-sustaining and does not require something in return from the other. It is a gift from God. Our stewardship of the world that God has placed us into is fueled by charity. We care for ourselves and others with a love that does not require sustenance from the people we serve. We are sustained in this mission with the love of Jesus.
You are not alone as you share this love in the world; God is with you.