Study Guide: Soak It Up

Sunday May 26, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

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.

Extended Summary:

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.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. How have you seen love defined in this world?
  3. In what ways have you seen your love for others lead others to see Jesus? In what ways have you seen others’ love work this way?
  4. In what ways do you want your love to improve towards others?
  5. What stops you from soaking in God’s love?