John Gray - Going The Distance
John chapter 13, verse 34. This is Jesus talking. And Jesus says this, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another". Again, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another".
And I wanna share from the subject, or the thought, going the distance, going the distance. In today's society, we have many subjects that gather us around TVs, and around movie theaters, and around social outlets, but none touches the heart like the subject of love. There's just something about love that gets our attention. Entire industries are built on this idea of love. How many movies have been done around a love story? How many songs have been written about love? Billions of dollars have been made off of love songs.
All of us, I don't care how saved and spiritual you are, all it takes is the first part of a love song, and if I start it, you could finish it. "Always and forever, each moment with you". If you know it, sing it. I knew you weren't saved all the way. I knew it, I knew it. Something about a love song that gets your emotions, something about a song, something about the lyric and the melody. Some songs are about a love that didn't quite last, some are about love that broke your heart, some is about a forever love, an always love.
And I will always love you, I that's how I got my wife, 'cause I was singing to her. Ha-ha, girl. I tell you what, there's something about a love song, and it gets your heart, it gets your emotions, and there's nothing quite like a love story. Now ladies, you all love love, and you love love stories. I have a hint, and a little piece of information. Your husbands, and your boyfriends probably don't like love stories as much as you, but because we wanna keep the peace, we watch them with you. Oh sure, honey, I'll watch the notebook. No, nobody wants to watch the playoffs, pfft, sure.
Let's just get this out of the way, ladies. I'm gonna speak for the men, 'cause they're scared, but I'ma go ahead and tell you, the playoffs have begun, leave us alone, let us watch the game. Give us some chicken wings, and some mountain dew, and get out of the way. Wings and mountain dew, it's biblical, because they shall mount up on wings as an eagle. It's Bible. I don't have no help in here. We love what we love, and love stories, they grab your heart, they grab your attention.
And it's great to go to movies, but what if I told you there's a love story closer that has your name on it? What if I told you many of you carry a love story in your pocket, or somewhere on your phone? It's probably on your mantle. That love story is called the Word of God. Contrary to what some may want you to believe, the Bible is the greatest love story ever told, a story of forgiveness, redemption, second chances, healing. It's the story of a relentless love that will pursue you 'til the ends of the earth, a love that loved you before you even knew love was looking for you.
This kind of love is not a love that you can find in movies, you can't find it in a song, you will only find it in the presence of the living God, and it is a love that is so magnificent that it's worth singing about, it's worth dancing about, yeah, and every now and then, worth shouting about. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? This love, this relentless, passionate, holy love was most expressed in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So magnificent the gift, so overwhelming was this thing, this substance called salvation that you could never earn it, you could never pay for it, it was a love that went above and beyond, it was a love that went the distance. Anybody thankful that Jesus went the distance for you? For those of us who have experienced the love of God found in Jesus Christ, many of us could not imagine living life without him. I can't imagine living life without Jesus. I can't imagine living life without the knowledge that I am forgiven, I can not imagine living life without the knowledge that the mistakes of my past do not dictate the trajectory of my future. I cannot imagine living life in condemnation and shame. I cannot imagine living that way any longer now that I have come in to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and there is now, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
What an awesome gift, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of heaven brought to the lowliest of the earth, this is a story that needs to be told, this is a truth that needs to be shared, and we must share it with the best of intentions, and with the loudest of voices. Jesus still saves. I can't imagine somebody not wanting Jesus, but alas, there are many who don't wanna have anything to do with our Jesus, and I've been trying to figure out why, who wouldn't want to be connected to Jesus.
If you look at the life of Jesus, here is a man that gave of himself constantly, here is a man who was known for stunning acts of kindness, selfless, loving, committed, caring, he loved children, suffer not the little children that come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven. He was kind to strangers, he was kind to believers and non-believers alike, he showed no favoritism, he loved people who had no money, loved people with money the same way, didn't matter to him. He was compassionate, he was committed, he was convinced that there was something great inside of every single individual, and this is the power of Jesus Christ, and this is the message that the church must declare.
When you think about Jesus, and all that he is, and all that he represented in his character, and in his integrity, the church doesn't have a message problem, we have a P.R. problem. I'll say again, the church doesn't have a message problem, we have a P.R. problem, because people who are not partakers of this grace have framed who we are to the world. People that have never stepped in to a church are the ones you hear talking about church. People who have never read the Bible are talking about the Bible. People who are on the fringes of religion are now all of a sudden experts, and people who are not saved, and who have never come in to a church, listen to these voices and assume that that is who Jesus is when in fact, that is not who Jesus is.
And the very same issues that we have today, Jesus had in his day, because there was a pr problem, and the pharisees, and the Sadducees were screaming to the Jews and the gentiles alike that you've gotta do work in order to be saved, and you gotta look like this in order to be saved, and you better wear this in order to be saved, and you better not eat that, and not eat that, and you should eat that, and don't wear that, because it's all external, and Jesus shows up on the scene and says everything that they represent is wrong because the law cannot save you. It is only through faith and Christ alone, Christ alone.
Cornerstone, weak made strong in the Savior's love, through the storm he is Lord, Lord of all. And Jesus came as the Heavenly Father's P.R. agent to say, let's re-frame the dialogue, and let's show you the love of the Father expressed through the Son. It's a love story, ladies and gentlemen, the story of a man named Jesus who didn't mind going the distance. But once you are a partaker of this love, you now have to be a distributor of this love.
You know, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who don't know. Jesus commands his disciples, at the end of his life as he's getting ready to go to the Garden of Gethsemane in John 13, we see him saying, I've got a new commandment for you. This is at the end of his life, the last time that he and his disciples will be together while he is alive on this side of the cross and a man's dying words are carrying a lot of weight. How much more so, Jesus our king, and he says to them, they're going to know who you are by the way you love one another. They're going to know you are my disciples, I give you a new commandment, love each other the way I have loved you, a selfless love, a forgiving love, an all encompassing love, a grace-filled love, and I want you to love one another and treat each other the exact same way.
I know we sing songs, I know we volunteer, but if we want our church to grow, if we want the church to thrive, if we want people who have never tried Jesus to wanna get to know him, we've gotta start treating each other better, we need to start loving each other a little more, we need to be a lot more kind, a lot more gentle, and a lot more loving. Jesus said love one another as I have loved you, he treated everybody like family, why? Because everybody is family. Maybe you didn't know that, but the same blood that saved you, saved me, that makes us blood relatives. I'll say it again, because you didn't know you had a black cousin. The same blood that saved you, saved me, which makes us family, and so what you need to do is say hi to your family that's sitting next to you. Go ahead, say hi to the people behind you, say hi family. Introduce yourself. You didn't even know you had family. If you're watching online, hi, I'm your cousin, let me borrow $5.
Jesus said, the world will see the true picture of the church in the way that we deal and handle one another, the way we love one another. So then the question then becomes, what is love? Because love could mean many different things to many different people. So here's three questions, what is love, how is it expressed, and how can I apply it? What is love, how is it expressed, how can I apply it. So let's go with the first question. What is love, baby don't hurt me okay, I'm sorry. No more okay.
What is love? First of all, how many people have been in love? Let me see. Love makes you do crazy things, doesn't it? Love makes you act weird. When you're in love, it's like, when I was single, I was like, I'm the man, nobody's ever gonna get my heart, I'm a grown man, I'ma be in control at all times, then I met my wife, I was like, hmm, hmm. I'm 35 years old, talking about, no you hang up. No you hang up, no you hang up, no you hang up, no you hang up, no you hang up. I love you, I love you. Love makes you do crazy things! You do stuff you would never normally do.
And ladies, y'all are the worst. When y'all are in love, you be talking to your homegirls, oh my goodness, we've been going out now for a few months, and we went to the park, and he laid out a picnic basket, yes. And we were in the park, and we were just laying in the grass, and we were talking, and he poured sparkling cider in to the cups, and we were drinking our cider, and we had our sandwich. I think he's gonna pop the question next time, oh my goodness. Three months later, don't even bring his name up. Ah, he is the worst! Something told me to leave him alone. He broke my heart! He told me he loved me, but then I saw his true colors.
What happened? It was love over here, it's not love over here. The difference was one was rooted in emotion and feeling, the other was rooted in experience. So love can never be what you feel, it must be always what you do. Love is a verb, a kinetic word, a to-do word, it's an action word, so for those who don't know, love is something you do, it has very little to do with you feel. You may feel it, it might feel good, but some of us who know true love, sometimes love is sacrifice, and love is giving beyond a place of comfortability, and God is saying as the body of Christ, it's time for us not to have a convenient love, but an inconvenient love, and go the distance for people even though it may not feel good, it is necessary if we want to develop the character of Jesus Christ.
So what is love? Love is not what you feel, it's always what you do. The prophet, Stevie of Wonder declared "Do I do what you do, when I do my love to you"? So love is what you do. I cannot say "I love you", and not back it up with actions. So, as the body of Christ, we need to start loving one another with how we treat one another, with how we speak to one another, with how we defer to one another, and honor one another, and speak life to one another, and believe the best about one another. So for this sermon, the definition of what is love, is not what you feel, it's always what you do.