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Real Faith: Real Love (1 John 3:14-20)

Real Faith: Real Love

1 John 3:14-20

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…”

1 John 3:16


We sure do have a tendency to throw around the word ‘love’, don't we?


I love Starbucks. I love macaroni and cheese. I love you. I love God.


The word escapes our lips so often we probably don’t even notice it, but isn’t it weird that we can use the same word to express our devotion to delicious cheesy pasta and to our Lord? I’m starting to think that it’s almost as if we don’t actually know what we’re saying.


It’s almost as if we have come to believe that ‘love’ is just some positive emotion we feel toward someone or something that makes us stumble over our words or get butterflies in our tummy. It’s almost as if we’ve been conditioned to believe that love is something we feel today although tomorrow we might feel differently. It’s almost as if we don’t actually know what love is.


So then the apostle John comes along and, in no uncertain terms, teaches us a thing or two.


“By this we know love, that he [Christ] laid down his life for us…” (1 John 3:16a).


Real Love, according to John, is not just some feeling. Real Love is not simply an emotion. Real Love is none of that because Jesus shows us that love...Real Love...acts. Real Love does stuff. How do we know? Because Jesus didn’t just send us a greeting card. He laid down His very life for us. Jesus didn’t just feel something toward us. He acted concretely to save us from sin, death, and the devil.


So when Jesus calls His disciples to ‘love one another’ and when Jesus calls His disciples to ‘love their neighbors as themselves’ this is the kind of love that He’s talking about. When Jesus tells His disciples to love, He is telling us to love with this kind of self-sacrificing love that puts the other before ourselves.


If this sounds difficult, if not impossible, you’re right. It is. Each of us only has so much to give and, after a difficult week, the tank is near empty. The good news, though, is that Jesus has not left us alone in our task to love one another as He has loved us. He continually fills us up with His love and mercy and grace so that His love overflows to everyone else we know. John says it this way, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Real Love comes from Jesus. Real Love fills us up and then sends us out into the world to love like our Savior. Real Love acts.

Real Faith: Real Change (1 John 3:1-7)

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 3:1

Change. Nothing gets us more riled up than change! Change is hard. Change is messy. Change is uncomfortable.

But some change is good. Change means growth. Change means learning. Change means new experiences and new friends. Contrary to popular belief, change is good. To be sure, the Gospel brings change.

The love of God, the love which God has lavished upon us in Christ, brings big change to our lives. In fact, this love which God has poured out upon us changes everything. John writes in 1 John, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

At St. Mark we are in a sermon series titled “Real Faith”. Throughout this series we have continued to see that a real faith isn’t grounded in ourselves or in what we can do for God. Real Faith is grounded in Jesus. The real, historical Jesus crucified and risen from the dead. The real Jesus that brings us forgiveness of sins. The real Jesus that brings us real satisfaction, a contentment that the world cannot provide.

In the same way, real change comes through Jesus as well. For the love which God lavishes upon us through His Word and Sacraments changes forever who we are and alters our fundamental identity. No longer are we defined by our sin, our self-doubt, our inconsistencies, or our failures. Now we are defined by our relationship with God.

We are defined by the relationship that He made possible through Jesus. John says that we are ‘children of God’. That’s who we are. That’s our identity. Not the inconsistent, sinful mess we see in the mirror. But a child of God, dearly (and lavishly!) loved by our Heavenly Father. That’s it. That’s who we are. And it does change everything, doesn’t it?

Knowing that you’re a dearly loved child of the Heavenly Father changes how we approach our work, our schooling, or our play. We don’t work to earn approval or stature. We don’t work in order to prove anything to anyone. We’re already children of God (!!). So instead of working to show others how great we are, work becomes something we do for others. We can work in order to serve our neighbors. We can work in order to bring some good into the world. We can work in order to love and encourage our co-workers or employees.

Because of God’s incredible love for us we experience change. Real Change that transforms our entire life.

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Real Faith: Real Satisfaction (1 John 2:12-17)

Real Satisfaction | 1 John 2:12-17

“...the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

- 1 John 2:17


Do you ever feel like you’re chasing your tail when it comes to finding real, lasting contentment in life? Do you have a craving that, no matter what you try, you can’t seem to satisfy? To be sure, we seek to find contentment and satisfaction in many places in this life. And to be sure, this world offers many pleasures. There is a seemingly endless supply of things that could feed our cravings and lead us to real, lasting contentment and satisfaction in life.


Oh, you know what these things are. They are as big as a new car or new house and as small as a candy bar at the checkout stand in the grocery store. Something new. Something comfortable. Something sweet. Something savory. All of these things are designed to bring us satisfaction.


Or are they?


Perhaps they are designed to bring us the illusion of satisfaction. Perhaps they are designed to bring us just a little taste of satisfaction. But never the real thing.


In our series on the book of 1 John called “Real Faith” we have been discovering what a real, genuine Christian faith looks like. Not surprisingly, what we’ve found is that it’s all about Jesus. It’s about the Real Gospel which comes to us in the flesh and blood of Christ. It’s about Real Confession that leans solely on the grace and love of God for the forgiveness of our sins.


This week we take up the topic of Real Satisfaction. In 1 John 2:15-17 John writes,


Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.


As Christians we are called to live in the world and engage with the world outside our doors. However, we are not called to find our ultimate satisfaction in the world. All that the world can offer will, ultimately, pass away.

But what can offer us Real Satisfaction? Only the love of Jesus. Only the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. Only the resurrection of Jesus which brings us everlasting life with Him.