April 29, 2018: From Where Love Comes

Pastor Steve Mechem

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1 John 4:7-11 New Revised Standard Version
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of the word “source” is “the point or place from which something originates.”

You are sitting on your deck. You hear a chirping sound. The sound is quiet at first but becomes louder, or maybe it is only louder because you are focusing on it. You begin to look around for the sound. You look around the deck and then move down the steps and walk around the yard, hoping to find the source of the sound- maybe a bug, or a bird, a trapped raccoon or an alarm of some sort. You find yourself obsessed with finding the source, looking everywhere, listening closely. You are interested in discovering the source because of your natural curiosity, and because, once you identify the source, you can decide how to respond to it.

Do you remember the show “Lost”? It was this crazy, confusing, wonderful TV show about a mysterious island that drew certain predestined people to it. The show’s first episode begins with a plane crash on the island. Among the survivors are a group of until then strangers who have been marked by the island to come.

The island is full of mystery- polar bears in the tropics, strange hatches, a smoke monster, odd symbols, repeating numbers, bunkers, electro-magnetic forces, time shifting, the “others.”

As it turns out the island is the home of a mystical light. The light is goodness and the source of goodness in all the world. If the light is extinguished, goodness leaves the world.

Strangers who are drawn to the island have been identified as possible protectors of the light, the protectors of the source of goodness.

The scientific theory known as the Big Bang states that the universe began as a very hot, small, and dense superforce. 13.7 billion years ago, this singularity began to expand rapidly and the universe was born. The source of our ever expanding universe is said to be this relatively small, dense clump of material that expanded (or exploded). Fascinating!

In the Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker has a conversation with his student, Rey.

Luke: What do you know about the force?

Rey answers awkwardly, “Its a power the Jedi have that lets them control people and make things float.”

Luke: “That’s impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.
The force is not a power you have, it is not about lifting rocks, its the energy between all things, the tension, the balance, that binds the universe together.”

Rey: Alright. But what is it.”

The force is the source of balance. It runs throughout the universe and flows through all things.

When one writes a term paper, one must be very careful to cite the sources of information gathered. When one neglects the source, one might get an “F.”

One of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God is labeled the “first cause,” or “first source.” The argument basically states that there is a cause, a source for everything. And if you go back far enough, you discover that at the beginning of all things, there is a source, and that source is named God.

We have been focusing on the theme of love over the past couple of weeks. (Well, actually, I think I spend most of my time in the pulpit talking about love, its primacy, its necessity, its priority. One time, a member of a congregation in which I was serving serving, chastised me for spending too much time talking about love and grace. I can live with that criticism.)

Last week, we discussed what love looks like. This morning I would like to address the simple question, “from where does love come?” What is love’s source?

Is love simply an emotion, a feeling, an urge? Is it a commitment, a pledge? Or is it something deeper, something beyond us?

Well, the bible clearly states that “God is love.”

Notice- not God embodies love, or is full of love, or shows love. Specifically God is love, θεός αγάπη έστιν. Simple Phrase. God. Love. Is.
God is love.

It is God’s nature. It is God’s personality. It is God’s DNA. It is God’s motivation. It is God’s activity.

God is love.

Many theists, including most Christians, believe that God is omnipresent. Everywhere, all the time. God is in and throughout all of creation.

God is in the seed that becomes a plant that becomes a tomato.
God is in the egg which hatches out the cardinal who sits on your bird feeder.
God is in you, and me, and every person who has ever been. (even the ones we don’t like.)

If God is omnipresent, God is everywhere in everything,
on a cellular level,
on an atomic level,
God is written into the dna of creation.

If God is there,
and if God is love,
then love is there!

Therefore, love is omnipresent.

In the every fiber of our being, we find the love of God.

The source of love in us, and in others, is God.

Love comes from the heart of God and finds itself flowing throughout creation. Therefore, when we love, when we act in love, we are accessing the source. Love is God acting through us.

I go so far as to say that even for people who
reject the idea of God, it is God’s love that fuels their own.

Now, to be honest, many religious texts, including some of our own, seem to portray God as something other than loving. God is perceived as wrathful, as vengeful, as full of anger, as homicidal, as genocidal.

But, as John reminds us, God is love.

And Jesus tells us that in him, we see God. We understand what God is like by observing Jesus. In him, we see God, a complete and full representation of the God of the universe, the Creator, Sustainer, the source of Love.

So, we look at Jesus to see who God really is.

Jesus taught …
he proclaimed a coming, and now present, Kingdom of love and grace where men and women treat with each other with respect and kindness,

he told stories emphasizing God’s love and our response to that love,

he taught us to love God, love ourselves, love our neighbors, and even, and especially, love our enemies,

he taught us to be humble, merciful, to make peace, to give, give, give to the poor.

Jesus gave some simple instructions on how to live:
turn the other cheek,
walk the extra mile,
respect other people,
eschew judgement,
embrace each other as brothers and sisters,
listen and learn.

Jesus accepted and elevated tax collectors, Roman collaborators, would be terrorists, revolutionaries, children, prostitutes, failures, religious leaders, religious antagonists, sinners, the less than upright.

Jesus healed the sick, the blind, the deaf, those damaged by evil, the broken.

Jesus raised the dead.

Jesus sympathized, Jesus empathized, Jesus
interceded, Jesus befriended.

Jesus challenged bigotry, misogyny, narcissism, unabashed wealth, religious elitism.

Jesus broke long held traditions and rules for the sake of people.

Jesus’ heart broke as he encountered the heart break of the world.

Jesus was kind and compassionate to hungry crowds, concerned parents, chronically sick people, a woman about to be beat to death, an immigrant’s daughter, the soldier’s personal servant, an outcast at a well, a criminal on a cross.

Jesus lived a love filled life.
Jesus named evil for what it was.
Jesus died a sacrificial death.

All in the name of love.

God is love.
Jesus shows us what God’s love is like.
Jesus calls us to love like that.

And while the task of love can be daunting, we have an inside track.

After all, the love in us comes from the Source of all love.

Embrace it, imitate it, live it, be it.