GS24-15 Love

00:00
Step Up To Love
Bill Giovannetti
My message today is a series within a series.

The series is called Giant Steps, and this is part 15.

In this series, we are spending this whole year talking about getting unstuck.

Getting past everything that his hurting our lives, damaging our relationships, and deadening our dreams... so that... we can step into the awesome, abundant, purposeful life of our God-given dreams.

As part of all of that, we are going spend the summer talking about love. Love and marriage and dating and sexuality and bonding and all of that.

So this is the Summer of Love, Jesus Style.

Love is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes, love is a very, very hard thing.

My talk today is called Step Up to Love.

Let's get right into the Bible.

"But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil." (Luke 6:32-35)

There's a book called The Hiding Place, and there have been two movies now made from the book. The author was a woman named Corrie Ten Boom.

Corrie died in 1983. She and her family were part of the Dutch resistance, fighting the Nazis in World War 2. She and her family helped smuggle thousands of Jews to safety to escape the death camps of the Holocaust. To do that, they constructed a secret room in their home, which was the "hiding place."

In 1944, an informant turned her family in. Her whole family were sent to Nazi concentration camps. In The Hiding Place, Corrie tells of the horrible conditions there. They held Bible studies in the lice infested dormitories. And they prayed for the guards. A few days before Corrie's sister died, she told Corrie, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."

After the war, Corrie returned to her homeland. She set up a ministry for survivors of the concentration camps. Actually, she even helped the sympathizers who collaborated with Nazis.

In 1974, she wrote another book called Tramp for the Lord. In it, she tells the story of a dramatic encounter while she was teaching in Germany.

A former prison guard approached her. She remembered him from the camps as one of the cruelest, most brutal of the guards. She wrote:

"You mentioned [the concentration camp in] Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard in there... But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, ..." his hand came out, ... "will you forgive me?"

Corrie Ten Boom did not want to forgive him. He had a hand in killing her sister. He had humiliated them. So this man's hand hung there outstretched.

Remember, this is a sermon about love. And actually, this is a sermon about having the kind of soul that is actually capable of love, even when that is enormously difficult.

A war raged inside Corrie. It was only seconds, but she said it felt like hours.

She said that she felt coldness clutching her heart. What would she do? We'll come back to that.

I started by saying that love is hard. And I shared the story of Corrie Ten Boom, because she is one really powerful example of why love can be so hard.

I want to focus on that. So here's a mental map for us. I invite you to think with me about: The Design. The Destruction. The Damage. The Deliverance.

Here we go.
"But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil." (Luke 6:32-35)

Step Up To Love

The DESIGN: The whole cosmos and everything in it is designed to enjoy and to radiate the love of God.

We have to start with God's Master Design, the Garden of Eden. Think of it as the perfect prototype environment where everything functioned exactly as it was designed to, especially love.

At the heart of the universe's blueprint was this intricate, powerful force called love. It wasn't an afterthought or a by-product. Love was central.

Genesis 1:26-27 throws us into the deep end of this concept, revealing we were created in the image of God.

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

Pause on that for a moment.

Of all the systems and philosophies in all of the long histories of earth...

There has only been one that has ever said, "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16).

There has only been one that has set forth one, singular, eternal, indivisible, almighty being, who exists forever in 3 Persons in a relationship closer, more beautiful, and more intrinsically loving than any human mind could fathom.

There has only been one that has said God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son (John 3:16).

And there has only been one that has said, herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. (1 John 4:10).

Love is the root operating system of the original cosmic design — and human design — because love is central to the heart of God.

In that beautiful Garden of Eden, love was the law, the air, the way of life. For Adam and Eve, love didn't take any work at all; they loved by design. Their interactions with the world, with each other, and with God was love in its most undiluted form.

Love was the algorithm of existence. Every process of atoms and molecules and subatomic particles... every process of plant life, animal life, microscopic life... every interaction and process of human life... even the motions of the planets and stars and far flung galaxies... everything was tuned to sing forth the glory of the Lord and to radiate his matchless grace and boundless love.

What breathtaking, heart-filling beauty!

What a true paradise God created!

This is love as it was meant to be: unhampered, unafraid, and wholly unselfish.
 
This was the design.

And because this was the design, there is something in the human heart that can never shake a longing for love. Even that concentration camp worker, couldn't shake his longing to be loved.

This is what we're wired for. Designed for.

This history explains why we crave love, fight for love, struggle with love, live and die for love.

And this history hints at the redemptive journey ahead.

So that's design: The whole cosmos and everyone in it was designed to enjoy and to radiate the love of God.

This brings us to that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day when everything in history takes a sharp downward turn.
Loading...