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Only Love is Real

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Only Love is Real

3 Words

1 John 4:8 – GOD IS LOVE.

Spoken 2000 years ago and changed how we understood God, and what it means to be a follow of God.

Thought experiment

Back in time – All the way back to when there was nothing but God.

Erase in our minds: People you know, Places you know, This country, All the history of mankind, The earth, The universe, All people, all matter, all concepts and ideas. All angels, The solar system, Heaven, Empty, Darkness

Now think away the darkness.

All there is is God and you had one word to say what he IS, you would say the word ‘Love’.

As fallen, as broken, hard our world has become, LOVE is our origin.

Apostle John

Lived longest (90’s)

Only disciple to die of natural causes.

Judas – suicide. The other 10 – martyred.

Picture him – rocking chair

Wrote Gospel of John,

Although John does not mention himself by name in his own gospel, he refers to himself four times as “the disciple Jesus loved.”

Sitting, remembering

Flashback – 70 years

Youngest disciple – some think 13 years old

His brother James

Jesus – “sons of thunder”

Jesus & disciples on their great journey to jerusalem – came to a samaritan village and asked to stay there. When they heard their destination was Jerusalem, they refused.

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54)

Jesus “No, you lunatics. I came to save people, not destroy them.”

Only one at CROSS

Only disciple at the cross when Jesus was being killed.

“Woman, here is your son.” “Here is your mother.”

Took care of Jesus’s mom

Flash forward

Writes: 1st, 2nd, 3rd John.

His message has changed.

Sermons – short – “Little children, love one another.”

Focus: 1 John

Written within 5 years of his death.

Makes the staggering statement: GOD IS LOVE.

Not just about God, it’s about how we as Christians, if we’re not known by love, then we’re not Christians at all.

1 John – Ch 3/4

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17)

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)

…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:21)

Sum: The REAL Christians are the ones who love their neighbor. To say you love God but don’t love your neighbor, well that’s impossible.

The “DEEP THINGS” of God.

Spiritual warfare.

Bible Code

Spiritual gifts

“Don’t push me!” – At youth camp, when we’d go and there would be these intense traveling preachers. Jeff Wimpy said that if you ever feel like they’re pushing you, just scream “Don’t push me!” And they’ll never do it again.

The older I get:

The “Basic” stuff. – Depth.

Nothing is deeper than love.

If anything is done apart from love, it’s fake.

Only love is real.

We can have this tendency to come to church and say “Where is the deep stuff?!” Love is the deep stuff.

Nothing is easier conceptually and nothing in harder in practice.

The Narrow Road

  • Walking in love for God / others.
  • Loving your enemies.

As much as I love theology, I also realize that it can serve as a distraction from the deep thing. – Loving God and loving others.

When people say I’m on fire for God. I smiling silently think to myself prove it. Show me how much you love these people.

(Judy Bierbaum- Mother Teresa pic)

The meaning of life is love.

If you doubt that, go talk to someone on their death bed.

They don’t care about Money, power, politics, success. Think about their loved ones.

Want the people in their lives to know how much they love them.

God is more known by love than by thinking.

We need both.


Pictures of Judgement given by Jesus in the gospels.

What is the criteria for judgement?

Me and Goldman – watching diving.

What is the criteria according to Jesus? Surprisingly, it’s LOVE.

Luke 16

Rich Man winds up in hell

Not b/c he failed to believe the right things.

For all we know, great theology. He knows enough to call Abraham ‘father’.

No he ends up in hell, b/c he failed to love lazarus. A beggar. An outcast.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – The brothers Karamazov:

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of no longer being able to love.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov)

Matthew 25 – Judgement of the nations

King: Separates the sheep and the Goats

Goats are condemned not for wrong belief. – Doesn’t mention that.

Condemned they failed to love poor, the sick, the immigrant, and the imprisoned.

Matthew 25:34-36

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, (Matthew 25:35)

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:36)

Uhh. when?

When you did it for the least of these, you did it for me.

Jesus has a unique affection for the down and out.

Matthew 25:41

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, (Matthew 25:42)

I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ (Matthew 25:43)

When? “Least”

If those examples are to be believed, then it seems to a certain degree, we’re not judged based on how right we believe, but how we loved.

Fake religion says “As long as we believe right, we can get away with loving people wrong.” But only love is real.

QUOTE Hans Urs von Balthasar – Roman Catholic Theologian

“Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed.” (Urs von Balthasar – Love alone is credible)

When you listen to the news, you can ask yourself a question: “What’s at work here?” And then a follow up question: “Is love at work here?”

1 Corinthians 13

Back to 1 Corinthians 13 – Paul says if you get everything else right, but get love wrong, you get nothing.

You get big fat ZERO on your report card.

You get everything else right

  • All your beliefs
  • All your miracles
  • All your living
  • And you don’t love… ZERO.
  • All your faith
  • All your opinions

But if you love, you’ll be fine. Love covers and multitude of of sins, you know.

Love and do what you will.” (Augustine 354-430)

Jesus to Judas in the garden, “Friend” – If he does that, do you think we can be a little nicer to people we disagree with?

As we prepare for communion

The only chance we have to make this a possibility is we love because he first loved us.

Our love is a response to His love.

Amazing – kids Learn – language.

It’s amazing the kids can do this. When you’re a child, you imitate. And eventually becomes the way that you are too.

If you need a place to look, look to the cross. And then you imitate it.

We do our worst, and he simply responds with father forgive them.

As they pass – spend a minute asking God – “Where does my love need to grow?


Confess Prayer of St Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console,

To be understood as to understand,

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”


We remember your death,

We proclaim your resurrection,

We await your return.

Let’s eat the bread and drink from the cup.