Sermon Outline On 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21 (NIV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
What does ‘God is Love’ mean to Ralph? Ralph came to the church one evening. He was roaming the halls. When approached by our security guard, he asked for a quiet place to sit for a while. He was obviously in a great deal of pain.
Ralph was taken to the chapel. He had been on drugs. His common law wife was on probation for drug use. His 11 year old son had cussed him out that night.
BUT the thing that really got my attention was when Ralph said we live in a hate filled world. Ralph could only speak of one hateful act after another. All of his encounters with others revealed hate.
Ralph came to the church. He said he was not sure he could believe in God. At the same time he spoke of seeing the face of God in the stained glass of the chapel. He had asked God for forgiveness and could not feel that he was forgiven. You see he saw God as a cosmic Santa, to whom he had brought his wish list.
Ralph wasn’t sure that God existed. He would certainly argue against the notion that God is Love. As much as he would like to believe it, Ralph would say that he had never experienced this God that is Love. There are people in this world who have not experienced love, who have not experienced God’s love. Or they do not know they have experienced God’s love.
Today’s text assures us that ‘God is Love.’ So what do we say? What do we do about the Ralph’s of our world?
It begins with us. Well, really it begins with God, but it comes to us before it gets to the Ralph’s of the world. We are faced with the question, Does God love me? Before we can help anyone else answer that question, we must settle it for ourselves. Does God love me? Did God send Jesus to be the atonement for my sins? In other words, did Jesus suffer and die so that I might be forgiven and know everlasting life?
This scripture assures us that Jesus was God’s answer for our sin’“that God loves us that much. Do we believe that Jesus is who he says he is? Do we believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God. Do we believe that God first loved us and sent Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?’ Do we truly believe that Jesus lived, taught, healed, served and loved some 2000 years ago? Do we believe that God came to earth in Jesus? Do we believe?
Some of you have heard of the film called ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Some of you may have seen it. Having not seen it, I still suspect that the question posed by this dramatization is Do I believe this happened as the gospels tell me it did?
If we believe that Jesus is who he said he was then we can be assured that indeed God love us first, and if God first loved us then we can love. If God loves us that much then it is easy to love God. But John says, if you love God you must love your brothers and sisters also.
If the Ralph’s of the world are to know God is love, they will almost always feel that love through us.