This Sunday I spoke 1 John 4:19-21. The thrust of the message pointed out a progression every church must follow in order to have the power of the Gospel- agape love. Every church should love God, love people, in that order. The two imperatives in the great commandment are not equal. One must come before the other. If we truly want to love others with the love of God then we must love God first. John outlines this in verse 21 when he says that if we love God we must love others. “Must” carries the idea of progression. Literally, it means “in order that.” In other words if we are truly loving God the natural organic result is loving people. The fruit of loving God is loving others.
Many churches take the shortcut of philos love, which loving each other without loving God first. This robs the church of her true power and place in the community. Philos love is great. It’s helping each other out, being a good friend, and even sacrificing for one another. Philos love though is not agape love, or the love of God. Agape love carries the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Philos love does not. Agape love has the power to forgive sins and set people free. Philos love does not. Agape love has the ability to turn bitterness into joy, anxiousness into peace, and hopelessness into hope. Agape love can set the sinner free. Philos love cannot.
However, philos love is not bad nor sin. It’s just limited. Let me put it this way. Agape love can lead to acts of philos love, but philos love cannot create or lead to agape love. The only way to gain agape love is to receive it from God through Christ, and then share it with others.
Love God, love others, in that order. We left last week’s message with a little bit of confusion. What exactly does a church filled with agape love look like? What does it feel like? How do I know I am in a church filled with agape love? How can I help my church, Celebration, be filled with agape love?
We are going to answer that question this week in a message titled: Crave-able