Ps. 139:7-12 (NIV) and 1 John 4:17 (MSG), 1 John 4: 7-10, 17-18 (MSG) John 13: 34-35 (MSG)
South Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship of Faith – July 23, 2017
The Reverend Deborah Fae Swift
1 John 4:7-10The Message (MSG)
God Is Love
7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
John 13:34-35The Message (MSG)
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
A little-known fact about me is that I loved high school and college physics. Not common for ANY person, I know, but ESPECIALLY weird for a music major. BUT … physics speaks to my fascination with how things INTERACT and have an AFFECT on each other.
One of the things I really loved reading about is WAVE phenomenon. Even as a little kid growing up on Goodyear Lake, I used to love to watch the boats go by, making their waves … watching the ripples … and then seeing the waves bounce off the shoreline and cancel each other OUT.
A wave would come in and hit the stones, be reflected back and then the water would become almost STILL again.
We lived on the lake from when I was 3 until I was 8 but those 5 years shaped so MUCH about me.
It wasn’t for another 10 or 15 years before I understood that waves travel like this:
They repeat over and over again until they run out of energy – LITERALLY.
Now if ANOTHER wave comes along that’s traveling at the same rate and everything matches up PERFECTLY, the amplitude – the HEIGHT of the wave – will get bigger.
But if another wave comes along that is perfectly the OPPOSITE … the first wave goes UP or CRESTS when the second wave goes DOWN to its trough … well, then they cancel each other out.
That’s why waves sometimes come in to shore, bounce off and it’s like they DISAPPEAR … they cancel each other out and it looks like just flat water.
God’s love is like this giant WAVE. It washes OVER us … it flows THROUGH us … sometimes we’re DRENCHED by it … sometimes it lifts us UP and carries us along. Right? We’ve all felt those things.
So when we are in SYNC with the waves of God’s love, when we are moving in the same direction and perfectly matched up … the love is MAGNIFIED … all of the good feelings and positive things associated with it are ENHANCED.
And when we are NOT in sync … when our intentions, for instance, are the OPPOSITE of the love waves from God … then the positive effects of what we’re doing are DIMINISHED … maybe even canceled OUT.
It’s just like waves on the lake.
Now Jesus tells us to Love one another. Okay. I can love other people. But he doesn’t end there Loving is not ENOUGH … he says we have to love them In the same WAY I loved you, you love one another. It’s not enough for us to make WAVES … we have to make them so they’re in SYNC with GOD’s love … with the love of CHRIST … with the example he gives us. In the same way I loved you, you love one another, he says.
And as a result, with the waves all AMPLIFYING each other and not DIMINISHING each other, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
Every time that someone claims to be a Christian and is not INCLUSIVE … or is JUDGMENTAL … or goes out of their way to HURT someone … the love is NOT in sync and the love-wave is cancelled out because that’s NOT how Jesus loved.
I can hear some of you right now: “But the love of God is always PRESENT. Right?”
Yes. But if it’s not lifted up in someone’s life … if it’s not AUGMENTED by the love and care, and concern of others … then it can be almost IMPERCEPTIBLE to someone else. Unless they learn to RECOGNIZE the love, they’ll never know what it is. And let’s face it … if they are confronted with HUGE, negative waves of things to knock them off their feet – poverty … violence … hatred … prejudice … all those things – the constant barrage of those NEGATIVE waves can cancel out a lot of POSITIVE things that we can try to do by ourselves.
Jesus NEEDS us to amplify the love-waves in order to make them clear to those who are so surrounded by the OTHER energies. And we need JESUS because HE is where the love STARTS. When we work TOGETHER with God, nothing is impossible.
We just have to align the waves of our THINKING and our PASSIONS to those of Jesus.
Wave generators are found in lots of places … science labs … water theme parks … they are things that get the waves started.
WE have the best wave GENERATOR of all time.
Every time he reaches out to someone else … every time that he HEALS someone … every time he has a quiet, personal CONVERSATION with someone … he is generating those LOVE waves of God. Turning water into wine so the bridal party won’t be embarrassed that they ran out of the good stuff … calming the storm and inviting Peter to walk on the water with him … FORGIVING his torturers as he’s dying on the cross … those are the moments – that we should REMEMBER and USE – those are the moments that generate HIS kind of love in us. Those are the wave generators.
7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love [waves] come from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. [Their love waves move in SYNC with God and the relationship builds up the POWER of the wave.]
The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, [Their love waves are so out of sync with God that they cancel out the goodness that could be felt.] God is love—so you can’t KNOW him if you don’t LOVE. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his Son into the world so we might live THROUGH him and let him generate more love in our OWN lives.
This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that WE once upon a time loved GOD, but that HE loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
Jesus tells us to Love one another in the same way I loved you, because when we do, we get our lives in sync with Jesus and the waves just keep on comin’ – for of such is the Kingdom of God. And we are invited to be whole and complete members of it. Amen.