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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Where Does Love Come From?

James Meehan - Where Does Love Come From?

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    James Meehan - Where Does Love Come From?
TOPICS: Love, God's Love

All right, show of hands, how many of you have ever been in love? If your hand is not up, then maybe today is the day you meet that special someone. The first time I met that special someone, I was in sixth grade. She was in my history class. Her name was Violet, not a real name, that's a fake name, but that's okay. We're gonna keep on going. And the thing that was so good about this relationship with Violet was she thought I was cute. I thought she was cute. So I hit her up on AIM, AOL Instant Messenger which was kind of like our version of Snapchat back in the day. Eventually, I asked her to be my girlfriend. We dated for about six months and during that six month timeframe, I think we talked in person twice and I think we hung out in person one time outside of school. Like I think we may have gone to the mall or something with some friends.

Eventually, though, that relationship tragically came to an end, probably, because we never actually talked to each other in person. Then in the seventh grade, I met another special someone. This person was my ex-girlfriend's best friend. Yep, that's right. And we started dating because my ex-girlfriend kissed my other friend and I was really upset and hurt. And so I thought the best way to get back at her was to date her best friend. Yes, I know, it was horrible, it was dumb, it was immature and probably no surprise to anybody who's hearing this that relationship didn't last long. Because we didn't really care about each other. We were kind of just dating each other because of what the other person could do for us. And if you fast forward to high school, I met once again a special someone and found myself in love.

This time though, the relationship ended because the new Call of Duty had come out and I was having way more fun playing Call of Duty with my friends than dating this person. And like the thing about Call of Duty is you get all this enjoyment from like a one time purchase whereas when you're dating somebody it's like a subscription service 'cause you gotta pay for movies and meals and all of that stuff. And at the time, I was cheap and I was kind of a punk and so I broke up with her so I could play video games. And I know what I'm saying sounds horrible. I get it. Listen, this was before I knew Jesus. This was years and years ago. I promise I'm different. Jesus changed me, he saved me. And because of that, I really did meet my special someone. Her name is Mandy, she is my wife of now six years going on seven.

We have a son named Jace who turns two up here in a couple of months. And we get to have a really great and healthy relationship that is very different than all of the relationships I had in middle school and high school. Why do I tell you all of that? I tell you that because God's love for you is nothing like the kind of love that I had in my middle school and high school relationships. You see, God's love is actually love. It is selfless, it is sacrificial, it is unconditional. God loves you not because he wants something from you, not because of what you can do for him, but because he is love. In 1 John 4:7-8, here's what we read, "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love".

John, the author of this letter, was a disciple of Jesus. That means he followed Jesus as his student for three years learning from Jesus what life is really about. Learning from Jesus what God is really like. And here John is telling us that God is love and that all love comes from God. It's important to know that when John talks about love, he's not talking about romantic feelings or strong desires or just positive thoughts. Those might be part of it, but they certainly aren't the heart of it. When John talks about love, he's not talking about using other people or things to get what we want. Because according to John, love is choosing to sacrifice yourself for the good of others. That's what God's love for you is like. And the good news is that God isn't just going to dump you when things are inconvenient.

God is so committed to his relationship with you that he literally sent his son Jesus to die for you. Picking up in verse nine, John continues, "This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and he sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God: but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us". What John is saying is pretty crazy. Like he's literally saying to us that when we love each other, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. What does that mean? Put another way. It means that if you want to fully experience God's love for you, then choose to love other people.

If you wanna fully experience God's love for you, then choose to love other people. It's kind of like baking a cake. Like baking a cake is a really cool thing. Like if you bake a cake, well done. I don't know how to do that. So kudos, congratulations. But you know what's better than just baking a cake? Eating the cake that you've baked, right? 'Cause then you get to actually enjoy the work that you put into it. But you know what's better than just baking a cake and then eating the cake that you baked? Sharing that cake with other people, sharing a meal with others, letting them be a part of whatever it is that you're celebrating with the cake. Because I think we can all agree that most about everything is better together.

It's better with people we care about. And I think that's what John wants us to know about God's love, is that God's love isn't meant to stop with us. It's meant to flow through us. And that if we wanna fully experience, if we wanna fully enjoy and appreciate the love that God has for us, we've gotta share it with other people. Because, just like a cake, it's really, really good on its own but it is better when it's shared with others. So, if you wanna fully experience God's love, then choose to love others.

Continuing in verse 13, John tells us, "This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us his spirit. And we have seen and testified that the Father has sent his son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and we rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them. And this is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus".

Right here, John is throwing things back to a line he wrote in chapter two. Because in 1 John 2:6, John tells us that whoever claims to live in Jesus must live as Jesus did. But if you claim to have a relationship with Jesus, you better live the way that Jesus lived. If you were to put it in kind of like more modern language you might say it this way, that if you call yourself a Christian, you better walk it like you talk it. Like if you've got Christian in your Instagram bio then you better not just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk. Because following Jesus can't be about empty words. We've gotta have our actions to back it up. Because when love is real, it actually changes the way we live.

And I think that's what John is getting at here. Like when you think about my relationship with the girl that I thought I was in love with in the sixth grade, not much about my life changed, right? Like I went to school and did just about everything the way I did before we started dating. I spent my weekends pretty much the same way I spent my weekends before we started dating because we didn't spend time with each other, we didn't talk with each other, we didn't really have a relationship that was built on real love. And because of that there wasn't much to it and there wasn't much that was lost when that relationship ended. And the same is true when it comes to our relationship with God. When it is built on real love, a choice to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others, based on the choice that God has made to sacrifice himself for us, then our lives will be different as a result.

And I wanna kind of like pause here and go on a little bit of a tangent because there might be some of you who are listening to this message and maybe you're like, "Yeah man, the good news is my relationship with my girlfriend or my boyfriend, it's built on real love". Like we care about each other so much. Like I just wanna spend every moment of every day with this person. Like we'll be on the phone late at night before we go to sleep and like we'll argue about who's gonna say goodbye. And then we just like stay on the phone for like another several hours to the point where we don't even sleep, we just talk to each other all the time. I think it would be valuable to do a real evaluation on your relationship.

And I think that when you do, you might discover that maybe, just maybe, your relationship isn't built on love, it might actually be built on lust. Because you are more concerned about what that other person can do for you than about how you might sacrifice yourself for them. Because if the thing that you're thinking about in your relationship is how the other person can make you feel, I'm telling you that that is not real love. That relationship will not last because whenever the feelings fade, and they will fade, the relationship will die with it. And so if you wanna know if your relationship with that person in your life is real, then look at how much you're willing to sacrifice for them. Look at what it is that you are really focused on.

Is it what's in it for you or is it how you can add your life to theirs to help them become the person that God has created them to be, to help them become the kind of person who truly loves God and truly loves others? Because if your relationship is built on real love, then you will want the best for them and you'll work to bring the best out of them, not just try to get the best from them. Because love is not about using other people or things to get what we want. Love is choosing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. And if you're a follower of Jesus, then your life will start to look more like His. The way you think, the way you speak, the way you talk, the way you act. All of that will start to look a little bit more like Jesus.

Picking up in verse 18 and 19, John goes on to tell us that "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love". There is no fear in love. So what's motivating you? Because if your desire to love God and love others is because of the love that you have received from God, then keep on going. That is amazing. But if your desire to love God and love others is motivated by the fact that you just don't wanna get punished or you don't want something bad to happen or you don't want somebody to be upset with you, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons. Because fear and insecurity will never actually move us to real love. Fear and insecurity puts the focus on us and what we might lose if we get it wrong. But love looks to the good of others.

And when we've experienced real love, we can respond with real love. Some of you need to hear this. God is not Santa Claus, right? Like you've got Santa Claus who has this list and he's checking it twice to see who's naughty and nice. Like that is not the way that God operates. God doesn't have this list that he's checking twice to see who's naughty and nice. You see, God's relationship with you is not built on your good deeds or your bad deeds. It is built on whether or not you choose to receive the gift of grace He's offered you. The apostle Paul and Ephesians 2 tells us that, it is by grace through faith that we are saved, that our relationship with God is made secure. Not because of what we've done, but because of what he has done for us through Jesus on the cross. And if you've put your trust in Jesus, then you can be confident that your relationship with God is secure.

In verse 19, John tells us this that, "We love because he first loved us". We love because he first loved us. God went first. God went first. Before you ever did anything for him, He was moved by love for you. Before you were even born, God spoke the universe into existence and he chose to create the cosmos so that human beings could exist and experience relationship and partnership with God. Before you were even walking, in the middle of our brokenness, God saw that there was a problem and he stepped in to fix it, as the person of Jesus. Before you ever put your trust in Jesus, he died on the cross for you. That's why we love because he first loved us. God went first. No matter what you've heard, what you've experienced or what you've believed, God loves you and he wants a relationship with you.

John continues in verses 20 and 21 to tell us that "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he, God has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister". So how do we become people of love, people who are shaped by the love that God has for us and people who are moved to share that love with others? The first thing we do is we receive God's love, because he loved us first.

So the first step is to actually receive the love that God has made available to us. Because before we ever loved him, he showed his love for us through the sacrifice of Jesus. And for some of you, the way you're going to receive God's love is for the first time ever, you're gonna believe in Jesus. You're gonna put your trust in him. You're going to be swept up in this beautiful family of love that God has established called the church. You're gonna become a part of what God is doing in the here and now as we await Jesus's return in the future. And when you do, you're gonna be made completely new.

Maybe for others of you, you are a follower of Jesus, you're a Christian, you've got a relationship with God but you're not actually slowing down enough to relax into his love for you. You're not taking the time to be still, to be quiet, to get alone in the presence of your Heavenly Father. And so maybe you're starting to feel far from God. But God wants you to know that he is close, that he is closer than your best friend, that he is available for you. And so maybe what you're gonna do is you're gonna take some time in your day, maybe first thing in the morning, maybe right before you go to sleep, to create space to experience his presence, to pray, to talk to God like you're talking to a friend. Maybe you're gonna open up your Bible and you're actually going to read it because you know that God has something special for you, that he wants you to know him and to live in a relationship with him.

Now, maybe others of you, you really wanna feel the love that God has for you. And maybe you used to, but lately you're starting to feel like your faith is getting stale. Maybe your relationship with God is getting a little bit cold. Like back in the day when you first started coming to church, every time that one worship song would come on, you'd get the Holy Ghost goofies and you'd feel God's love for you. Or like when you'd open your Bible, it would be like every day just a new nugget of wisdom that just changed the way you thought about everything. But those feelings are gone. And you want 'em back. I wanna remind you that love is so much more than strong emotions. Love is a choice to sacrifice yourself for the good of others. And so what I need you to know is that even though the emotions might be gone, it doesn't mean love went anywhere.

As a matter of fact, maybe what God is doing is He's inviting you to strengthen your relationship with him because it's time for you to stop depending on the emotions, it's time for you to do what's right because it's right. One of my pastor friends talks about this idea that when it's a cloudy day, the sun didn't go anywhere, the sun is still there. You just might not be able to see it. God's love didn't go anywhere. It is still here and it is available for you. So, take some time this week to create space to experience his presence and receive his love. That's the first thing. The second thing we do is we respond with love. Because once you've received God's love for you, it is time to respond with love for others.

And so maybe you got into a fight with your parents earlier this week, and you are still ticked, and you probably said some things that you shouldn't have said. The way that you're going to respond to the love of God is by going first and telling your parents that you're sorry for the things you said. Even if you are still mad, you're still gonna take a step to mend that relationship because of the step that Jesus took for you before you ever did anything for him. Others of you, you're gonna show up to your small group tonight with a totally different attitude than what you've had in recent weeks. Because instead of being distraction who's just trying to entertain yourself, you're gonna actually listen and care about what other people are saying.

Not only that, but you're gonna offer a word of encouragement to somebody in your group who's been having a hard week. And maybe for some of you, you're gonna make the hard decision to redefine the boundaries in your dating relationship. Because you're realizing that up to this point, your relationship has been built more on lust than it has on love. And you want to commit to serve that other person sacrificially. Because you know that's what it looks like to honor God in this relationship. Why do we love? We love because he first loved us. We didn't deserve it and we didn't earn it, but he did it anyways. The Apostle Paul tells us that while we were enemies of God, while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. God went first and he's inviting you into a relationship with him.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the fact that you loved us enough to go first. I pray for every single student that's hearing this message that they would receive your love in a new way today and that they would choose to respond with love for others, to sacrifice themselves for the good of another. We pray all these things in Jesus name, amen.

Maybe for you, as you're hearing this message, you're thinking about love, you're thinking about God, you're thinking about your life. And as you think about these things, you're starting to notice that none of them have actually come together yet for you. Maybe you've been skeptical about this whole God thing for a while. Maybe you've just been so frustrated and fed up with life that you've stopped hoping for something more to begin with, or maybe as you're listening to this message, you realize that you've been calling yourself a Christian but you don't actually know who Jesus is and you don't have a real relationship with him.

And today is the day all of that changes. What you need to understand is that God loves you and he wants a relationship for you. That's why 2000 years ago, he became a person, a man named Jesus. He walked on this earth. He lived a perfect life. He died a blameless death on the cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven of the wrong things we've done that separated us from him. And the good news is that Jesus didn't stay dead. On the third day, He rose from the grave, conquering death, sin, and darkness so that anybody who puts their trust in Jesus could be forgiven, they could be safe, they could be made new and reunited with God. And that's exactly why you're here today. To step into the relationship you were created for, to receive the love of God for the first time ever.

If that's you and you say, yes I want a relationship with Jesus, then type in the chat. Jesus, I give you my life. Today is the day I'm turning it all over to you. I'm done doing this on my own. If that is you type it in. Jesus, I give you my life. And as people are making that decision, what we wanna do is pray with you and pray for you and pray alongside of you, because that choice is the best choice you could ever make in your life. Because in that moment, you became a new person, no longer defined by the mistakes of your past, but defined by God's love for you. So will you join me praying out loud, all together. Repeat after me.

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today, I give it all to you in Jesus' name. Amen and amen and amen.

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