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Soak It Up

• Greg Boyd

Love is not defined by warm and fuzzy feelings. As followers of Jesus, we look to the cross to understand love. In this sermon, Greg shares with us why our love for one another is so important.

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The way that love is defined in our culture is not the way that God defines love. In our culture, love is defined as a warm and fuzzy feeling that you have for another person. A certain devotion based on emotions and experiences, whether it is looking into your lover’s eyes or watching your grandchildren play. But, as followers of Jesus, we look to the cross to understand true love.

It’s difficult to imagine that Jesus was feeling the warm fuzzies while being crucified. Jesus freely gave up the bliss of heaven to dive down into our lives and be brutally beaten and killed. The love that binds us all together is this love, and while we thank God for warm and fuzzy moments, we need to understand that love is not to be defined by our culture.

Love, as defined by Jesus, is ascribing worth to another at cost to you. Notice that it is ascribing not finding worth in another. We usually operate according to a simple principle—we love people if they are worthy of being loved. In our culture, we only love people if they prove to be worthy of our love. Family is a status worthy of love, friends and coworkers who are nice to you are worthy of love, but people who mistreat you are not worthy of your love. This is finding worth in another. But Jesus says that we must ascribe love to others, no matter who they are. And this will come at a cost to us, just as it cost Jesus.

Our love for one another is the distinguishing mark of discipleship. Love is the distinguishing mark of someone born of God, for God is love. Our willingness to reflect love to others defines how much we’ve grown and are walking in faith. It’s not enough to learn all the right verses or say all the right things. Ultimately, our actions show us as disciples.

Our love for one another is our witness to the world. It’s not our words, clever arguments, or beautiful church buildings that draw people to Jesus. It’s not impressive sermons or programs at church for children and adults. Rather, it is our love that is a witness to the world. Jesus wants us to show our love, not just to those that “deserve” it, but to everyone in our lives. By showing our love, we bear witness to Jesus much more than words ever could.

Our love for one another encompasses all other commands from God. God has given us many commands, but everything hangs on our love for one another. Above all, we are to clothe ourselves with love. Which means nothing else can come before loving one another. Not doctrine, justice, or God’s holiness comes before God’s love. If love is above all, then everything else is beneath love. And if we do these actions without love, it is fruitless for the Kingdom.

Our love for one another is the all-or-nothing of the Kingdom. Many people, just as the Corinthians of the 1st century, are enamored with the gifts of the Spirit. The supernatural things are seen as the signposts where God is dwelling. And while these gifts are impressive and beautiful gifts from God, they are useless unless they are wrapped up in love. Nothing else in the Kingdom matters if it isn’t showing God’s love.

Is our sacrifice for others convincing people that Jesus is Lord? That’s the question we have to answer when we want to know if we love as Jesus loved. We have to make space in our lives to love others as Jesus has loved us. This is far and above anything else that we seek in the Kingdom.

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Topics: Discipleship, Love, Relationships


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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 3:14

    And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

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10 thoughts on “Soak It Up

  1. Kathy D. says:

    Thanks for the teaching in this sermon. A lot was said about our neighbor, great stuff!!! One question – aren’t animals considered our neighbor too? Would love to see them included in the circle of the teaching in sermons especially on love, as Jesus loves them, too, and we are to be like Jesus, right?? Each and every animal is a Word of God, His beautiful creation, in which He takes great delight!!

  2. Kevin says:

    “A religious carnival”! I love that you phrased those “signs and wonders” religious activities with that tone! I love the fact that you, like I, know that this phenomenon, as well as any and all other “manifestations of the Spirit”, outside the sole banner of Love, is worthless and that supporters of such things, without a sincere love motivation, simply need to shut up!

    Would you please, at some point, state with certainty whether or not these so-called Miracles, like God’s replacing a rotten tooth with a gold tooth or the sudden appearance of so-called ‘gold dust’ magically appearing on someones pants or mysterious and unknown gems suddenly appearing or other types of unusual occurrences, are anything more than some sort of man-made hoax?

    It weighs heavily on my sensibilities and moreso on my understanding of Scripture for you to say Yea to it all. I know you believe that we should live in reality and all these ‘signs and wonders’ seem to fly in the face of the reality that’s rooted in Christ, that is, if they are not legit. I have yet to understand the significance of, not to mention the credibility of, all those types of side shows as i would call them.

    So would you please state for the record how you stand on this? I want to believe because, for one, my teeth are in need of repair and i can not afford a dentist. I also would love to have a fair measure of gold or gems as my monetary income is dreadfully lacking.

    As far as the Love element goes, Brother Greg, christians i have known who believe in miracles of this nature are, as far as i know, very loving and caring saints, many of whom i would call brothers in Christ.

    It has yet to be made known to me the Reality of these professed miracles and It would truly help me in my walk with God to know for sure if these things are real or if they are anything to be desired in the first place.
    Please weigh in on this at some point in greater detail please as my understanding of scripture is still unclear in this regard.

    On a more positive note, lol;

    Awesome and needful message brother! With true, Christ-like and unconditional Love, ALL things ARE possible!

  3. Kevin says:

    Hearing this message again, I understand that you ONLY endorse spiritual manifestations, real or imagined, if we walk away from it with a greater capacity of loving even our enemies and only if afterwards we put on display the Kingdom of God in greater capacity than we had before.
    My hope and concern is for my brothers and sisters that buy in to this stuff; i want to see to their ‘spiritual safety’, as it were and for their growth in Christ. If i could get a little validation as to whether or not you personally believe in your heart of hearts that “those” type miracles are real signs from the throne of God to us of if you feel they are a ‘put up job’ or worse, demonically divined or maybe even God’s sending us ‘strong delusion’.
    Now i’m done; TIA

  4. Peter says:

    In many ways where John says in 1 John 4:8 “God is love” a number of us would like it to say “God is love…..on my good days”. But no, God is total love, all the time…..He never has “an off day”…..in fact, (and I know it is silly to say), if God were to cease His love for a nano-second, He would cease to be God

    When the creation was formed, it was an outward expression of His love with the crowning glory being the creation of man made in His image. Effectively, the whole creation was made for man to mature and grow in God’s love as sons of the Father. And yes Kathy D, the love relationship between man and the animal kingdom must have been fantastic and the naming of the animals both gave the animals worth ie they weren’t just creational “set dressing”, and man his place within creation…..but don’t despair, the animal kingdom will also be restored to its full glory as part of the renewed Earth.

    So prior to the fall man’s relationship to God, to each other and to the creation was total love…..this was not something that had to be achieved, it was perfectly natural. After the fall, these relationships were destroyed as you can only truly love from a pure heart…..a sinful heart essentially only loves from motive (Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt ; who can understand it?”).

    Of course, the relevant verse to this is Ez 18:20 “The soul that sins shall die.” So the old life as Greg says has to be put to death…..it is only a new heart that produces pure love. God’s provision comes through (among others), His prophet Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

    This then ties up with Jesus and the confrontation with Nicodemus the Pharisee where Jesus said (Jn 3:3-21), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God….etc. This underlies each believer’s death on the cross….the death of the ‘old’ man and creation of the ‘new’ man with a new heart and Spirit within him that enables him to reconnect with God’s love and share that with man and creation.

    While some may consider Jesus to be a revolutionary, He is only that to fallen man….His life is ‘normal’ for the Kingdom. So our love to others….meeting others needs, laying down our life etc….may appear radical to fallen man, but is every bit normality in the Kingdom.

    The last point here is how we perceive a God of love and judgment. In one sense judgment is really an act of love. If we break a law, our conscience and guilt is normally always there convicting us of this matter which, if unresolved, may even lead to health issues, instability etc. However, when brought to judgment, the issue is resolved and the punishment served, so that following completion of the punishment, the person is then justified to continue living without the guilt they formerly had.

    Thank you Greg for a timely message and opportunity to reframe our thoughts and purpose within God’s family.

    Hey Kevin, reading Mark 13:21-23 you’ll see that exactly what you are describing will be present…and yes, many will be deceived. Satan endeavors to clones/copy what God has done (see in Revelation and the unholy trinity) to deceive man.

    There is no need to make a big thing of signs and wonders. If you see a sign pointing towards WH church….there is nothing special in the sign itself. Similarly Jesus performing signs and wonders were essentially, only providing a direction towards Himself and the Father. See John 2:18-25 and also 1 Corinthians 1:22-25…..where Jews wanted signs….but not Jesus. I suggest false christs and prophets will draw attention to themselves and not to Jesus.

  5. Dave Pritchard says:

    Kevin,

    When Greg mentioned “Gold” during the message it reminded me of a certain church in Redding California where Spiritual Gifts are heavily practiced and encouraged as a necessary component of discipleship. The pastor is a dynamic and sincere gentleman who has potentially led hundreds, if not thousands to the Lord. However, “Glory Clouds” are not a new “End Times” phenomenon, but like
    “Debates” as Greg mentioned earlier, they can seem somewhat impotent and vacuous if they don’t provoke and motivate a “Christ like Love” in the participants afterwards. Total abandonment and being lost in “Praise to Him” can be a beautiful thing but one doesn’t need their iPhone to capture it. Ha! I’ve met certain Believers whom are caught up in the Signs & Wonders/Gifts Movement. Some have an insatiable spiritual appetite for such things and often desire an ever-increasing immersion to obtain their Sanctification, rather than the hard graft of Service and Prayer for others!

    However, some individuals though seem to be able to manage and balance both their “Agape and Phileo Love” effectively and with sobriety in equal measure. Personally, I’ve got a lot of work to do in both of these areas and moving away from a “Spectator Christianity” and into a more hands on approach like Jo Saxton emphasized last week, is definitely the direction I need to head in.

  6. Gini Winslow-McLaughlin says:

    Marinate me in your Spirit LORD!

  7. Susan says:

    Stood in my office screaming amen! Now will go into my closet and soak. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

  8. Jacob says:

    That was an awesome message!! Not so impressed by some of the comments

    Mark 16:17-18) “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

    I agree that signs are just signs.Yet, I would argue that if Jesus had not healed anyone he would have fed 500 and not the 5000. I’m sure that a lot of them left as spectators and missed all of the life points Jesus gave. Still, all 5000+ had a chance to hear and to respond. If anyone ignored the signs they would have never made it to the right mountain to even hear Jesus words or receive our healing.

    He still uses signs today, sure some people worship the sign and the wonder… but that does not give us and excuse to ignore or discredit something that happened on a mountain that we missed.

  9. Roger Bannister says:

    I’d love to preach this, but I have a new motto, if your don’t live it, don’t preach it. If it isn’t true in your own life then it isn’t truth. Not disagreeing with what you said, just lack the visible fruit in my own life.

  10. Amen. You are Living in Christ. I know it and thank you for heading your flock in the correct direction. All Glory to God, for He alone is worthy to be praised!

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