In our scripture written by John, we see that John speaks to love and how important it is that we love one another. John, after all, is known as “the apostle of love.” And, since we’re in February which is known as the month of love, I thought it most appropriate to look at John’s message and discover why John wanted people to know that loving one another is so very important to God who loved us first.

At the time of this message, the church was in a bit of turmoil. Some people thought of themselves and even claimed to be super Christians. It went further because these guys were teaching this misconception to other Christians. They told them that they were introducing them to secret knowledge. If the other Christians knew about this secret knowledge then they too would live on a higher plane than everyone else. What do you think happened to the church? Well, it pitted one person against the other. It divided the church to the point that some were leaving the church.

We see with John his need to keep going back to love. He knows these people are bringing forth false teachings. He urges them to look at love, saying “Look. Love is a test of truth.” This is why our scripture is so important to our relationships with one another. He tells the people that love is from God and that God is the divine source of love.

Why should we love? John answers that question by telling us because God has manifested His love in the giving of His Son, Jesus. This is why we should love. God’s love is so great He sent His Son to die for our sins. And Jesus’ death was a horrific one. God did this for us. He loved us that much. Why then can we not love one another?

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John ends this part of the scripture with a profound statement. “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” It means that when we love one another as it says to in the Bible, God’s love becomes visible because God manifested Himself through the person of His Son, Jesus. So when we give of ourselves through selflessness and commitment it is testimony to the world of God’s love.

I’m a huge lover of Billy Graham. When he died, I looked back at the life of this incredible man. A great man with flaws and everything. I remember when he came to Atlanta, GA. I was in high school and my mother wanted us to go hear Rev. Graham preach. Even as a teenager, I knew Rev. Graham and his ministry. My mother invited her sister and her husband to go with us. So we all set out to downtown Atlanta to hear Rev. Graham preach. My mother, my daddy, my Uncle Bennie, my Aunt Ruby, and me. We could hardly contain ourselves we were so excited.

When we arrived at the stadium, I couldn’t believe all the people. Now you’d think that many people would be impossible to manage. When we first saw the crowd, we all thought, Total madhouse! But it wasn’t at all. It worked like a well-oiled machine. We found our places and settled in for a spectacular service. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. The awesomeness of it. The electrifying atmosphere. God was truly in that place. We all felt it.

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There’s a story I heard once about Billy Graham. It goes like this: Billy Graham was returning home after a speaking engagement. When his plane arrived at the airport, there was a long black limousine to transport him.

Just as he was about to get in the back of the limo, he stopped. He whispered to the driver who was holding the door open for him. “You know,” he said, “I am 87 years old and I have never driven a limousine. Would you mind if I drove it for a while?”

The driver said, “No problem. Have at it.”

Billy got into the driver’s seat and they headed out to the interstate. Lurking behind an exit ramp a short distance from the airport, sat a rookie State Trooper operating his first speed trap. The long black limo went by him doing 70 in a 55 mph zone. The trooper pulled out in pursuit and easily caught the limo. He pulled up behind and got out of his North Carolina State patrol car. The young trooper walked up to the driver’s door. When the window was rolled down he was very surprised to see who was driving. Trying desperately to maintain his professional attitude, he immediately excused himself and walked back to his car, and called his supervisor.

He told the supervisor, “I know we are supposed to enforce the law but I also know that important people are given certain courtesies. I need to know what I should do because I have stopped a very important person.”

The supervisor asked, “Is it the mayor?”

The young trooper said, “No, he’s more important than that.”

“Well, is it the governor?”

The young trooper said, “No, he’s more important than that.”

The supervisor said, “Oh! So it’s the President?”

The young trooper said, “No, he’s even more important than that.”

The supervisor finally asked, “Well then, who is it?”

The young trooper said, “I don’t know, Sergeant, but I think it must be Jesus because he’s got Billy Graham for a chauffeur!”

I love that joke! Rev. Graham’s calling was how he connected people with God and His love. Likewise, trying to connect people to God’s love is the focus of the church. The songs, the teachings, and the reciting of the Apostles’ Creed. Faith is challenging. Putting your faith in a higher power and believing in God and trying to believe in science isn’t easy. Or even using science as an excuse not to believe in God.

Take, for instance, Francis Collins. He’s a physician-geneticist who wrote a book entitled The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In this book, Collins advocates theistic evolution (a view that God acts and creates through laws of nature. It assumes that the concept of God is compatible with the findings of modern science, including evolution).

Also Sir Fred Hoyle. Hoyle is quoted as saying, “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged through evolutionary processes is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the material therein.” Thereby dismissing or rejecting the “Big Bang” theory. Although Hoyle declared himself an atheist, he promoted panspermia (The idea that life can be distributed throughout the universe, from planet to planet.) as being the origin of life on Earth.

What then does it mean to say the words, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?” Why do we use the word Father to describe God? God as father. God is not male or female. God is above gender. We talk more about the relationship than a gender. Genesis 1:27 speaks to us being made in God’s image. This shows that God is God. Jesus used the term “Father” when He taught us the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father” showing it’s about the relationship and the love we have for the Father and the love the Father has for us. Jesus also used the word Abba (another word for daddy).

I’m sure people with bad father experiences find it hard to refer to God as father. Jesus tells the story of a son who wanted his inheritance from his father before his father died. It’s called “The Prodigal Son.” This story helps those people understand our earthly father is not our heavenly father. It also shows how a father can love his son so very much.

We find in Isaiah 66:13 another example of God’s love: “As a mother comforts her child so will I comfort you,”

Then there’s the word, Almighty. What does that word mean? Sovereign? Overall? Greater than we are? God is really all that and more. Some believe His sovereignty means He controls everything, determines everything, and predetermines everything. They believe it’s all God’s will.

Why would Jesus tell us to pray—asking thy will be done? Is God not love? Does love control everything? Or, does love allow the loved one to be as they are? If God had wanted a warrior to send, he would have sent one. But He sent a baby.

God liberates—not controls. We have free choice. We can love Him or not. Maker—(creator) there’s someone beyond who made us. This takes us out of ourselves being the center of the universe.

When you say you are created in the image of a loving God it’s so liberating. God smiles on your life simply because you are you. You are created in God’s image. This world needs to know that God is love. This is the God Jesus talked about. It’s like being lost in wonder. Do you find yourself lost in wonder, love, and praise?

Billy Graham left us with these statements regarding love:

God is love means that He tries constantly to block your route to destruction.”

“True love is an act of the will – a conscious decision to do what is best for the other person instead of ourselves.”

“When Christ’s love fills our hearts, it puts selfishness on the run.”

“God’s love is unchangeable; He knows exactly what we are and loves us anyway.”

This love thing sounds like a 24-hour gig.

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And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!