Rylan and CarleighMay 15, 2014 Alexander Kloosterman
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.”- 1 John 4:7-11(HCSB)
As we join here together today to celebrate the marriage of Rylan and Carleigh, and their commitment to love each other faithfully, I would like to consider what exactly we mean when we say the word 'love'. Everyone is familiar with the word, and yet, I'm not sure we all mean the same thing. The Apostle John gives us a very helpful explanation, from which we can better understand the love of God.
First, we can see that love finds it's origin in God himself. Love is not simply something that God created, or demonstrated; love is who God is. He is the source of love. He is the definition of love. What we naturally do is pour our own meaning and definition of the word 'love'. But the scriptures tell us that we must look outside of us for this definition, and source, and understanding. We must look to Love Himself. But love is not simply something God is, love is what God does.Love, in other words, is active. We can have no other understanding of love other than one that is active. The opposite of love, therefor, is apathy. The opposite of love is indifference and inaction. The active love of God is demonstrated most clearly to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The cross of Jesus Christ is where God demonstrated most clearly, and most fully, what love is. “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” If someone were to ask us what love really is, and what it really means, we could show them Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection. So when we look to Jesus Christ, in his word, what do we see?
God's love initiates.
“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us” God was the first to move. God was the first to act. He didn't wait on the sideline, seeing what we would do.
God's love is gracious.
We like to think that we are very loving people. We like to think that we deserve other's love. In the same way, we deny love to those we deem unworthy. To those who break our trust, who are less than loving, we naturally tend to withhold our love. But the gospel shows us an amazing picture of Grace; God loving those who do not love him. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! -Romans 5:8. The heart of love is grace. God does not simply love the lovely, but the unlovely. He loves the unloving. He loves those who hate him. This is the Grace of God.
Rylan and Carleigh, and all of us; consider the gracious love of God for us. Consider that what He gave we did not deserve. Be aware of the sinful tendency to love each other only when you are lovely, and repent of it quickly. God loves us, not only for who we are, but in spite of who we are, and we must do the same to each other. I pray that you will each love and serve each other well. I pray that you will share many common joys. I pray that you will be faithful companions. I pray that you give each other your best. But I also pray that you love each other at your worst, with grace. Be quick to forgive, and quick to repent.
God's love is sacrificial.
The love of God is demonstrated by loving others at great expense to himself. God didn't wave a wand, or snap a finger; he hung on a tree. He was willing to suffer, to give up, to sacrifice, to die, because of his love. This is the way God demonstrated and revealed his love to us, and how we are to love one another. Today's popular view of marriage is to love at as little cost to oneself as possible. To guard, protect, and seek out our own interests at other's expense. But a marriage built on the love of Christ must be filled with a sacrificial love, that acts at cost to oneself, for the good of the other. The cost to ourselves is something we all fear. We fear pain, and death. But the gospel frees us from those fears, and the slavery to a self-preserving, self-seeking life to a life of service and sacrifice for others. The eyes of faith can see that death brings with it the hope of life. It is in fighting for our own lives that we actually lose them. But in giving ourselves away for Christ, by dying for others, we actually find life. “God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”. But that life was purchased through death. That life that God wanted to give us through Jesus was purchased through propitiation; through a sacrifice. But death was not the final act; it was only the beginning. On the third day he rose, and so did we, to new life. So the pattern of death and new life is one we see modeled by Jesus himself. “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. -Luke 9:23-24. Marriage is one of God's greatest gifts to us to help us learn what the sacrificial love of Christ looks like. Rylan and Carleigh, do not hold on to your lives, but give them away for Christ and for each other. In this, you will find true life. You will find your true selves, as you were created to be.
So set your eyes and heart ever on the Cross of Jesus Christ, where the love of God was revealed to us. It is here that we find not only our example for how to love others, but grace in our failures to do so. There has only been one perfect human being; his name was Jesus. We will sin and let each other down. But if there's one thing we know, it is that God loves sinners with an initiating, gracious, and sacrificial love. And lastly, I hope you see your marriage as not only existing for the service of each other, but for others. Lay your self down for the love of your neighbor, especially the oppressed, the fatherless, the widow, and the sojourner. For you were once oppressed, without your heavenly father, without a companion for your soul, and a lonely traveler. But the Father has brought you home. Amen.