Summary: Part 6 and last in series Love Without Limits, Dave fleshes out the characteristics of love found in “the love chapter,” 1 Cor. 13.

A Portrait of Love

Love Without Limits, prt. 6

Wildwind Community Church

David Flowers

February 6, 2010

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails...

1 John 4:8 (NIV)

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

4 God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud.

5 He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs.

6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7 He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 God never fails...

Today we bring to a close our series on the love of God. What I have tried to do over the last few weeks is put these cookies on a lower shelf – one all of us can reach. In doing this I am not in any way lowering or demeaning God, for God – in Christ – lowered HIMSELF. The whole purpose of His coming was so that we who were so tired of fruitless efforts to reach up to him could finally stop straining, and simply welcome into our midst the one who had reached down to us.

As I speak, great violence is being done to people all across this nation – all over the world. The message of God’s love, of grace, of being steadfastly in the grip of the one we cannot grasp – that message is being substituted in pulpits all over the world for a message of striving and effort. God’s complete sufficiency is being snuffed out in favor of focus on our insufficiency. Millions of people who are lonely, frustrated, discouraged, angry, confused, heartbroken, convinced that they are worthless, people who are isolated from love, who do not know grace, who have not experienced mercy, and who come into our churches seeking it, hoping to see it modeled in a word, a gesture, and maybe a sermon, will walk away more convinced than ever of the greatest heresy the church has ever propagated, which is the idea that there is space between us and God – that we cannot get to him – that he is unavailable to us – that we must say the magic words, fill out the response card, show up in church, come to the altar, or otherwise rub the lamp to get him to show up.

So let me be clear now to whom I am speaking. I am speaking to you, those in the pews this morning. Many of you barely made it here today. Some of you are glad you did, others of you are still not sure. I am speaking to you, people from this congregation who are not with us this morning but are listening to our podcast. I am speaking to you who have never been to this church. Some of you are thinking about coming. Others of you will never come. I am speaking to some perhaps in this congregation, perhaps listening on a CD or podcast, who went home with someone last night they shouldn’t have gone home with. I’m speaking to those who are struggling with their sexual orientation and think that because you are attracted to the same sex God cannot or does not love you. I’m speaking to those who are struggling in their marriages – who have thought about leaving, or perhaps already have. I’m speaking to people who feel too dirty to be in church this morning. I’m speaking to those who can’t seem to stop drinking, or talking, or masturbating, or lying, or gambling, or covering up what a mess they’ve made of their lives. I am speaking to those who maybe stumbled across a link to this sermon on the Internet and are sitting and listening right now, perhaps unsure of why they’re even listening. I am speaking to people who overspend, overeat, overwork, oversleep, overthink, overmedicate, and otherwise over-indulge, and to those who overlook the blessings that are all around them. I am speaking to church-goers who are pretty sure they have never experienced God and feel guilty for it, and to the non-church-goer who has experienced God but feels totally invalidated by the church because that experience has not come in the right container, and has not been dispensed by those with the right degrees and the right backgrounds. I’m speaking to religious people who judge irreligious people, to irreligious people who judge religious people, and to people of one religion who think God can’t move, can’t speak, and can’t save anybody in another religion. I’m speaking to followers who wish they were leaders, to burned-out leaders who wish they were followers, and to those who are determined never to follow anybody. I’m speaking to the sexually immoral, the ones who flirt too much, the ones who ignore wisdom, the ones who despise wise counsel. I’m speaking to Republicans and Democrats – liberals and conservatives – rich and poor – givers and takers – popular and anonymous. I’m speaking to those who look up to me, and those who look down on me, those who think I’m okay and those who wish I’d go away. I’m speaking to those hungering and thirsting after God and spiritual things, and those who never give that stuff any thought at all and all those in between. I’m speaking to those who haven’t attended church since Christmas and won’t attend again until Easter. I’m speaking to those who know their need and are willing to seek help, and to those who may or may not know their need but either way, they’re not getting ANY help from anybody. I’m speaking to those caught in dead-end jobs, lifeless marriages, power struggles at work and with your kids, people struggling with fear, anxiety, worry, insecurity, jealousy, hostility, discouragement, depression, despair, aimlessness, boredom, guilt, regret, greed, hatred, pettiness, loneliness, lust, envy, and grief. I’m speaking to religious losers who think they are winners, and to irreligious winners who think they are losers. I’m speaking to those who think life would be better if they could just have it together like so and so.

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