Leon Fontaine - Love Like Jesus Loved
If there's a topic that I have struggled with the most in the Bible and there's not much that I struggle with, I love the beauty of the Bible. And I'm the kind of a guy, I love to see how some people teach on renewing the mind, some teach on faith, some teach on grace. some teach on. I love how they all work together. So the topic that has all, I've always struggled with is a topic of love. I was raised in a generation where to be loving was to be feminine. Even the pastors, you had to be sweet. God bless you. You had to let people roll all over you. You had to be a doormat for people to wipe their feet on. That was love. I swore I would never pastor. Never swear with God.
As I begin to look at love and saying I need to teach on this more. I mean, one of the things that really helped me was this. Jesus said, "Love others and people will know you by your love". Someone, "What is that love? What? I just go, 'Whatever you want. Sure, take my house. Yeah, punch me out. Okay. I love you. I love you. I love you'". Like, I struggled with this topic. Growing up, my dad told me, "Leon, we don't fight in our family". And so being a preacher's kid in a small town, I got punched out pretty much every week. And I couldn't fight back. And my mama, the tough little French woman finally told my dad, "Cameron, enough. You let this kid fight and you teach this kid to fight, or I'm going to hire someone myself". So they gave me permission to go back to school and defend myself because that was okay.
And so I know what it means to be raised in a place with a false look at what love is. Love is being a doormat. Love is not raising your hands to defend yourself. Love is letting people do whatever they want, and love is like whatever you need, I'll just do this for you. And so I've not enjoyed the topic of love from a religious perspective until Jesus said, "Love others as I have loved you". Now that begin to help me understand this. Jesus died for us but I can't die for you and get you saved. Only Jesus could, and that's been done. He died for your sin, my sin. He took your curse, my curse. He went to hell in my place, your place. And He rose again with new life for you and for me. We cannot redo. We cannot redo what Jesus has already done. So He's done that. So His death and His resurrection. That's cool. But now what about how we loved?
And then I began to re-read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and I realized nobody took advantage of Jesus. Give me one example. You can't. Well, they killed Him. No, no. They didn't. John 10, Jesus said, "Nobody takes my life. No one. I lay it down. And I'll pick it up again when I want". They tried to kill him before He laid His life down. They couldn't. Storms couldn't kill Him. Demon possessed guys running at Him in tombs couldn't kill Him or touch Him. An entire crowd couldn't kill Him till He decided as walk in love to lay His life down for the planet. Now, I'm getting excited about love. I'm going okay, because growing up knowing what it was like to be punched up, beat up as a young man. I took martial arts, learn how to fight, stick fight, nunchaku. You name it. I dove into it. No one 's going to ever do this to me again. And so I was probably too far on that side.
So I want to teach you the three quadrants of love today because they really helped me. And if you get these mixed up, they'll hurt. You'll hurt yourself. But if you understand the quadrants of love, you can be so secure in your identity, your emotional makeup. You can begin to build relationships that last and that are satisfying when you understand love in the three quadrants that Jesus teaches us about love.
The first quadrant is you must deal with God and God's love for you. God loves you. He made you in love. One lady told me one time that she was a product of a rape that her mom decided not to have an abortion. And so she felt this was a sign of her future. And I said, "You know, just because your conception was one that was brutal, painful doesn't mean that you weren't made in love because God knows the future. And according to Psalms 139, you were formed by Him in your mother's womb and He made your inner parts. And you are wonderfully and beautifully made". So we are made. God designed us, made us. He made us in His likeness and in His image. He didn't say to the cow, I'm making you in my likeness and image. He didn't say to your dog. I know you love your dog. I'm making you in my likeness and image. He actually created the planet for His sons and daughters. He created the universe for the human race. And one day when we spend eternity together, it'll be our playground and I'm not even sure what all he's going to do out there. But God's crowning achievement is human beings.
Psalms 8 says, "You made us a little lower than the spirit beings. What is man that You are mindful of him". And you don't understand that when you look at the words in the Bible it says, "He crowned around us with dignity. He crowned us with value and worth". You are worth how much? What's your value? How much was paid for you? God gave Himself for you. And that's not the way I was raised in the denomination I was raised in, where they said, "You're a dirty rotten good for nothing sinner. Don't ever think you're worth anything. You just be happy that God even noticed you and He died on the cross for you". And I understand what they were trying to do but I couldn't find that anywhere in the Bible in my 40 years of study of the Word of God. I couldn't find that I was a nothing, good for nothing sinner.
I understood that my own righteousness and me trying to earn my way. That I understood. But all I can find is that you, God made you and God is love. You were made from love. You were made for love. You were brought into a family of love. And when you recognize that, this is the first quadrant. You must look to the value and the love of God for your identity. Do not look to your wife. It's a quick trip to depression. All the women going. No, don't look to your husband either. The first quadrant, your identity and love can only be God. It can't be your kids. All my daughters left me and found another guy. But because I was so secure in God, I was so happy for them. But yet I know people that just struggle. Because if you put anyone else in that first quadrant, and you look to them for your identity, to them for... The love that gives you your identity can only be found in God. It's the love of God. And so it's not even how much you love Him. It's how much He loves you. And you must marinate in that.
That is where your identity, a sense of stability, a sense of significance, a sense of importance, a sense of dignity, a sense of value, only comes from God that last. Now, a crowd might applaud you. You might be a great singer, a great actor. But the Inquirer will do a story somewhere and the crowd will tear you apart. Watch Hollywood. They lift you up for 3, 4 years. They'll tear you down because it's just as much fun. First quadrant, the love that God has for you is your identity. It's who you are. You're not who, you are not your skills. You have skills. You're a painter but that's not your identity. People asked me, "Who are you"? I'm an electrician. That's your career. Who are you? Well, I'm a mom. No, that's what you do. That's not who you are. Who you are is a crucial issue of love and it can only be God loves you. And if you will anchor the very heart of your being in the love of God, you will be secure.
The second quadrant of love is you need to love yourself. You need to love you. If you don't love you, then you will not be able to take any of your relationships, your marriage, your kids. You'll never take any of them to the place where they could go. Because Jesus was very clear when He said that when you love, you love your neighbor as you love God? No. Love your neighbor as you love your mama? No. Love your neighbor as you love your Daddy? No. Love your neighbor as yourself. How much should you love your neighbor? A lot. Well, how much should you love yourself? A lot. But not the love that is self-centered. And this love is not where you get your identity. It's not you loving you that gives your identity. That's God loving you that gives you your identity and your security. You must love you, so that you can flow the love that God has for you through you, to your spouse, this world, back to God. When God made you, He made you to be loved and He made you to love Him back in a way that He would love Himself.
Second quadrant is you loving yourself. And health, healthy people don't look at all their problems. Listen to me because somebody's going to get so much help from this one point. For you to grow healthy doesn't mean find every problem in your life and focus on it and fix it as though fixing your problems is what's going to give you more value. Fixing problems is important but has nothing to do with your value. Your value comes from the fact God loves you. And as you learn to love yourself, you'll discover through marriage and friends and being parents and coming to church and reading the Word. You'll discover blind spots and things you need to deal with. But none of those things have to do with the first quadrant which is who you are and your identity which is God loving you. So people who get mixed up, feel like they have to earn God's love. And they're getting mixed up in the quadrants. You know, God loves you period. The way you are.
The third quadrant is loving others. Here's where you find your purpose. Without purpose, you're going to, life just gets depressing. So what's purpose? Well, some people are always looking for a purpose as in what to do. Your purpose is to love God first, and then to love yourself, and then to love those around you. If you do not do these three things, you will not feel fulfilled. You will not be able to raise a generation of kids and grandkids up that are stable. It's like the, it's like the three legs on a stool. You know, we used this in the old days. We'd have these milking stools when we milked cows. I used to help farms, farmers out and little three legs stool used, grabbed it and you slipped it beside that cow. And if one leg is gone, that thing falls over. But with three, there's a stability there. And those three legs of stability was three quadrants.
Our number one, receiving the love of God, believing the love of God. Because what you don't believe, you don't receive. If I don't believe that my wife loves me. Then she can pour her love on me and it means nothing to me because I don't believe it. Receiving it, believing it, crucial your identity and your worth and your significance. Loving yourself is getting right with yourself. It's cutting off all the things you believed about yourself that you're dumb uncle said about you, or some teachers said about you, or some friend said about you. That became a part of woven into your identity. Only God can secure your identity. Only God.
This third area is this ability to love people. And when you love them, they don't have the ability to take advantage of you. Why? Because you don't need, like some people it's, "Oh, I've got to, I've got to get people to like me. Does everybody here like me? I hope you like me because being liked is where I get my identity from. But if you liking me doesn't matter to my identity, I still want you to like because it makes life easier". But I don't need you to like me. And so I'm free from you, and I'm free to love you. In marriage, you're not designed to be each other. It's not like you're so intertwined. You complete me. Baloney. God completes you. You don't need your spouse. You chose your spouse and that's a higher compliment.
So this issue of love really as I begin to look at I love people as Jesus loved. Well, a rich man ran to Jesus and said, "What must I do to be saved"? And Jesus said, "Ah, sell all that you have, give it to the poor, come follow Me". And he went, turned around and he walked away sorrowful because he was very wealthy. Jesus didn't go, "Just a minute, let me explain what I meant. Don't be so quick to leave". He let him go. Isn't it interesting that in the love chapter when it talks about the attributes of love, none of them have to do with fixing people. Isn't that interesting?
Now, long suffering because Holy Spirit and them are working on stuff. So you better be long suffering in the process. But none of the attributes of love are you fixing people, showing people, putting your finger on their problems, judgment. You just walk in love, patient, kind, good, joyful. You know, all, that's how you love people. Oh, you mean I don't have to fix people? No. It was a wonderful day for me when I just refused to fix anybody, because I'll have a nervous breakdown trying. And I realized I don't have to fix you. I just have to love you. And in my role as your pastor, teach you the Word. But I can't change you so why try.
Why don't I respect you enough to give you the room for you and Holy Spirit to make the decisions at your speed, at your pace, and love you in the meantime. And this love is phenomenal because this love to somebody who is still working on understanding the three quadrants of love, creates a space like a church, a space like a relationship, where there's a freedom to find out who you are, and to begin to look at, does God love me? And to get into God's Word about this. My journey of what is love. I love the topic of love. But I recognize that it's like my grandkids, I was sharing. My daughters have to keep reminding me and Sally does, too, because like I'll have a nice latte or one of those gingerbread lattes. And, you know, a little granddaughter, grandson will walk up with these big eyes and oh. They want to sip.
So I just give them a sip. You know, the caffeine and sugar and chocolate keep them up for the next 10 hours but I just can't, I don't want to say no. They're going, "Dad, I'm leaving them here with you, if you keep doing that". You know, grab some candy. I'm sitting there, all of a sudden, this two-year old walks over and looking at me like this. I'm looking around making sure no one's watching and just start passing the candy. But you see, but the problem is love would say, "They're going to be up. Love would look down the road with wisdom". So love isn't just giving people what they need, or what they want, I mean. Love isn't just, you want something? Okay, here, here, here. No. Love has to have wisdom, has to look down the road and say, "I want them healthy. I want them sleeping good".
Just look down the road and say, "I want, I want to build like a business that's here for generations. I want a country that my kids could be proud of and be free of. I want to make sure that in all these areas". And so leadership and love. What we do? So love is a motive. If you do things with love as your motive, everything you do changes. You know, what you do is important. But even more important is the motive you do with it. So important that you can give your body to be burned. You can give away all your money. And without the motive of the love, it profits you nothing. This thing called love is crucial. Love decides your identity. Love decides you being at peace with yourself and comfortable of yourself. Love decides how your relationships go. Love as a motive determines everything that you build with your hands.
So love, love is crucial. God is love. Jesus said, "Love others as I have loved you". Someone came to Him, "Jesus, your friend, he's dying. Come quickly". He didn't go. You'd think, "If He love His friend, He'd go". No. Jesus was following love. God is love. And Jesus said, "I don't do anything except the Father show Me and tell Me". As we pursue love, we're pursuing God. And people who know God and who know love. Oh, they'll help you for sure. But they're not going to help you the way you think you need help. They're going to help you the way God guides them in their help.
You see, you can't be manipulated by people who try to use your Christianity against you if you truly are following God. You don't feel guilty about it. I'd be, I was in a service one time and my dad and I were there. And this person was supposed to be an incredible evangelist and all of a sudden he say, "The Lord just spoke to me and said I'm supposed to pray for people who are going to give a $1000. Lined up over here". People started lining up. My Daddy looks at me, we'd never seen that before. And then he says, you know, I just, God just told him there's a $500 line. So give $500. And they had a way of saying it. It sounded really spiritual. I'm going to lay hands on the $500 line and pray for them. He kept going.
Now, we were sitting on the front row which is not cool and we didn't get into a line. And so after a while there wasn't too many people left in that auditorium. And someone said to us from one of the lines, "Pastor, don't you want to get blessed"? I said, "Well, I'm already blessed so no. I'm helping somebody but I can't be manipulated by somebody using the word love because I serve love, God". And He guides me and He guides you. No one should manipulate you to give an offering. They should offer the offering, share with you where it's going, ask you to give. God does all those things but never manipulate you. Love doesn't manipulate. And love, real love can't be manipulated. I guess that's the point I want to make, and that set me free. That made me so excited about love is my motive.
God is my, He is my love and He determines my identity and I can be in love with myself. Which doesn't mean self-centered. It just means I can love you like I love myself. And so these three quadrants, I hope that in the short time that we shared them. They help you. Never put a person in the wrong quadrant and you can know love in such a beautiful way. That even when people talk about you. You know, I hear lots of rumors about me. I hear lots of stories about me. And they don't bother me because I know who I am. It's a beautiful feeling. I want to challenge you. God's in love with you. He cares about you. Love is so powerful it created the universe. Love is powerful. Love is beautiful. Love is something that transcends every area. So pursue love. That's who God is. That's who Jesus is.