Love That Lasts by Rick Burdette
1 John 4:16-4:18
Love Like You Mean It – Love That Lasts
1 John 4:16-18 (pg. 857) February 28, 2016
I have a joke I share with my mom almost every single week as she goes to the beauty parlor to get her hair “did.”
She says they’re going to give her a “permanent” and I laugh and say…“it only lasts a week…shouldn’t they call it a “temporary?”
Permanent is a pretty heavy duty word. It means something is intended to last for an indefinite period of time…It comes from the Latin word “permanens – to stay to the end.”
There are very few relationships that “stay to the end.” Many have learned that truth the hard way.
Author Keith Miller tells of an outgoing 40 year old woman who was part of a sharing group he had. Here is her story:
“When I was a tiny little girl, my parents died and I was put in an orphanage. I was not pretty at all and no one seemed to want me. But I longed to be adopted and loved by a family as far back as I can remember. I thought about it day and night, but everything I did seemed to go wrong. I must have tried too hard to please the people who came to look me over and what I did was to drive them away. “But then one day the head of the orphanage told me that a family was coming to take me home with them.
I was so excited that I jumped up and down and cried like a little baby. The matron reminded me that I was on trial and this might not be a permanent arrangement, but I just knew that somehow it would work out. “So I went with this family and started to school. I was the happiest little girl you can imagine, and life began to open up for me just a little. But then one day a few months later, I skipped home from school and ran into the front door of the big old house we lived in. No one was at home, but in the middle of the front hall was my battered suitcase with my little coat thrown across it. As I stood there it suddenly dawned on me what it meant—I didn’t belong there anymore.”
Miller reports that when the woman stopped speaking there was hardly a dry eye in the group. But then she cleared her throat and said almost matter-of-factly, “This happened to me seven times before I was 13 years old. But wait, don’t feel too badly. It was experiences like these that ultimately brought me to God—and there I found what I had always longed for—a place, a sense of belonging, a forever family.”
What message do we have for those who have felt as though they don’t belong…for those who have felt like they didn’t have a place?
What do we offer those who have only experienced “temporary” love…if you can even call it that.
“We live in a world of “battered suitcases” left in the hallway with our coats thrown across them!”
It’s no wonder John the Apostle says “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…God is love” because:
I. GOD IS THE ONLY SOLUTIONS TO THE PERMANENT LOVE WE LONG FOR
Gary Chapman wrote a great book called the 5 love languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.
He says, “inside every one of us is a love tank waiting to be filled…It is a primary human emotion I need to feel loved…
Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments. At the heart of humankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love. That is why the ancient biblical writings spoke of the husband and wife becoming “one flesh.” That did not mean that individuals would lose their identity: it meant that they would enter into each other’s lives in a deep and intimate way.
But if love is important, it is also elusive. I have listened to many married couples share their secret pain. Some came to me because the inner ache had become unbearable. Others came because they realized that their behavior patterns or the misbehavior of their spouse was destroying the marriage. Some came simply to inform me that they no longer wanted to be married. Their dreams of “living happily ever after” had been dashed against the hard walls of reality. Again and again I have heard the words “our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Their stories bear testimony that adults as well as children have “love tanks.”
Could it be that deep inside hurting couples, exists an invisible “emotional love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of that empty tank? If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that makes marriage work?
The lie this world teaches is that “falling in love…the initial feelings of “head over heels” and the “in love” experience will overcome any future problems.
It’s a lie…it’s not a love you can rely on permanently…eventually real life will enter the picture…and begin to empty that tank.
And as we talked about last week each of us will choose to sacrifice and submit to the needs of our mate…or let the god of this world and his philosophies suck the tank dry.
The Greeks had 4 different words for love
Storge: “I love you because you’re family.”
Eros: “I love you because I desire you physically.”
Phileo: “I love you because you’re my friend.”
Agape: “I love you no matter what…like God does.”
Agape love doesn’t stop…it doesn’t have conditions on it…it doesn’t trade love for love or like for like…It is totally unselfish and only looks at the needs of others…this is the word John uses when he writes GOD IS LOVE.
The only way that Agape love can exist in any person is that God lives in them.
“Whoever lives in love (agape) lives in God and God in them.” (vs. 16)
What does that really mean?
II. GOD UNPACKES HIS SUITCASE AND MOVES INTO OUR LIVES
Most of the time I travel I live out of my suitcase…even if there’s a dresser I usually don’t unpack, because it’s a short stay…I’m only gonna be in Jackson, or Joplin, or New Orleans for a week or so…it’s not my home…but when I get back to Kari and my family…I unpack…I put things where they belong…I live here…it’s home.
I’ve met people that live like their hearts are a hotel…God stays there while they’re good and loveable, but really doesn’t’ unpack…because the minute they mess up the room He leaves them…there’s no security in their relationship with God…and it certainly doesn’t feel like He’s even made their hearts His home…Instead of relying on His love…They live every day in fear of Him packing up and leaving…fear of His rejection never lets His love make them complete…or confident.
I heard this great quote the other day “Love is giving someone the power to destroy you…but trusting them not to.”
God could have destroyed us…we as rebels and sinners all deserve it…but He doesn’t want to destroy us…He wants to save us…the question is…do we trust Him and His Word.
Jesus has promised to return again for His beloved bride…He hasn’t yet…and God’s Word tells us why in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Jesus living in me is the only way I can understand this kind of love and patience…It’s the only way I can love Kari, my children and grandchildren, family, friends and enemies with a view of eternity…Agape love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love like this never fails…It’s permanent. (1 Cor. 13:7-8)
When Robert Browning came into her life, Elizabeth Barrett was a 39-year-old invalid. Daughter of a jealous & dominating father, her first 4 books of poetry had been published when she was just 12 years old. At 15 she injured her spine, & the resulting confinement in London affected her lungs, & she came to be regarded as a permanent invalid, doomed to spend her life in bed. But still she kept writing.
As time passed, the grief caused by the drowning of a brother, & her father’s refusal to allow any of his children to marry made her a recluse. Nearing 40, she seemed destined for a life of helplessness & gloom.
But the publication of one of her books brought about a correspondence with another poet, a man by the name of Robert Browning. He visited her, & then they wrote often to each other, with him encouraging her to try to get out of bed & make every effort to resume a normal life. But this met with strong resistance from her parents. And they resented Robert for even suggesting it.
They refused to allow him to visit her again, but the correspondence continued, & soon they were in love. Finally, more than a year later, she escaped the possessive vigilance of her father & they were secretly married. They immediately moved to Italy, & in that sunny climate it wasn’t long until she was strong & active once again.
Her parents disowned her, but she wrote almost every week, telling them that she loved them & longed for a reconciliation. After 10 years of writing to them, she received a huge box in the mail that contained all the letters she had ever sent. Not a one of them had been opened!
Our God continually sends us love letters. His Holy Spirit calls us to repentance from a life of sin…He calls us to new life and healing through the Son…a life of real love, where He will never stop filling our tank…Fear of punishment becomes overwhelmed with His gracious presence.
1 JOHN 4:9-13 (p. 857)
This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us…He has given us of His Spirit. We opened the love letter…and He moves into our hearts and lives…and makes His home there.
What can separate us from this love?
ROMANS 8:35-39 (p. 787)
God unpacks His suitcases and moves into our lives…and nothing in this world or beyond it…is more powerful than His love. “We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
Do we view God as a loving Father who wants to restore a broken relationship with a rebellious child…who searches and runs after the prodigal…wanting and waiting for them to come home…or
Do we view God as a harsh Judge…wanting nothing more than to make us pay for our crimes…or break our probation, so He can punish us again? It makes a great difference in how we love our mates…and other people.
Let me end by saying
III. BECOMING COMPLETE IN OUR LOVE IS A PROCESS
“The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
The word for perfect also means “complete” or “doing what you were made to do.” A hammer is complete when it’s driving nails. A saw is perfect when it’s cutting wood. A child of God is complete and perfect when they are loving like Jesus.
[I came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit before my salvation. That conviction was a revelation of my sin…my rebellion…my lostness…It caused fear in my heart because I knew about Hell, and punishment…but mingled in that “call” was the message of the cross…“For God so loved me that He’d given His only Son…He loved me enough if I believed that I didn’t have to perish.
I would have never repented and turned toward God without both of these truths…fear and love. Both are evidences of God’s grace. Both are part of His “drawing us to Himself.”
But I have been on a continual journey of moving from fear to faith…so must you if we would be what God has made us to be. “Like Jesus in this world.” “Like Jesus in our home…Like Jesus in the way we love…complete, perfect.]
[Moving from fear to love involves pushing through that fear we all have of getting hurt…or being embarrassed…or “just not wanting to step out of our comfort zone” into a place of faith…a place where we love real people in real ways…“Dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete (same word as perfect) in us.” (1 John 4:12)
[A little boy had been tucked into his bed and kissed goodnight when a thunderstorm came through…He yelled for his dad who came in and turned on a nightlight and said, don’t be afraid…God will protect you…and the little boy said, “I know that but right now I need someone with flesh on them.”]
Jesus was God in the flesh…people got to see Him when He was here on earth…but since His ascension back to heaven…He’s left His Spirit in His children so we could be like Jesus here on earth…loving our wives, our husbands, the broken and hurting in the flesh.