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A call to love, even when it's hard

by Mike Vandermause on January 21, 2019

Jesus unveiled a new covenant (John 13.34-35): "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Pastor Troy Murphy used that verse as a stepping-off point to talk about the radical nature of God’s love for us during his message on Sunday, January 20. Here are some key points:

*The measure of how we carry out Jesus’ command will be how we love other people, including our enemies and those that annoy and anger us. Too often we want to be “right” and justified in our dealings with people rather than loving them.

*The kingdom of God is in our midst (Luke 17. 20-21). Loving our neighbor is for this moment.

*We can’t will ourselves to love people. Love comes from God. When you have embraced God’s great love for you and his rescue in your life, then his love will pour out of your life and enable you to love in the midst of difficult people and circumstances.

*Love has a pure intention. It is not something we do in order to look good to others or for your own good feelings.  

*Jesus has shifted love from vertical morality, which is about trying to please God by our behavior, to a horizontal expression of love, which has a ripple effect. As we receive God’s love, we spread it to others unconditionally.

*A church that begins to love will transform cities and the world. It won’t be songs, programs, ministries — those just equip us to love. If you want Green Bay to change, we need to figure out how to express love in this city. We need to stop pointing fingers and embrace people in this world.

*There are five important Jesus teachings we can use in spreading God’s love:

1-Love does not hide (Luke 8.16-18; John 17)

Too often we hide or insulate our faith. Love needs to come out of you. You can’t hide it. True love for Christ enables us to see opportunities. It compels us to love this way and proclaim that this is what we do and this is who we are. You don’t want to hide the love of the Father; you want to give it away.

2-Love takes action (1 John 3.18)

Love doesn’t wait. Love doesn’t seek to be right. We can’t take action in anger, or by pointing fingers, or out of obligation. Jesus never defended himself or fought to be right. 

3-Love forgives unconditionally (Matthew 18. 23-35)

As God has forgiven you, we are to love others. God did not withhold his love from us. We in turn cannot withhold our love from others.

4-Love is blindly compassionate (Luke 10. 29-37)

Love doesn’t choose certain people in certain situations. It is compassionate, period, regardless of the person or situation.

5-Love sacrificially serves (John 13)

Jesus washed the feet of the one who would betray him — Judas. You must sacrifice your pride, time, finances, and the claim to be right.

Discussion questions

*Give an example when you struggled to love someone (family member, neighbor, friend, school bully, teacher, etc.)

*What motivates you to love others? Is it harder to love someone if they don't love you back?

*Have you ever been tempted to withhold your love from someone? Name a time when God has withheld his love from you.

*What do you find most difficult to sacrifice when you love someone?

*Who is someone you can show love to today, even if you don't feel like it?