The God who wants us to be gifts (agape love) #sermon #podcast

If you do right in order to be right, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. People whose lives are built around being right become bitter misanthropes like the ancient Pharisees of Jesus’ day. And the way that Christians today are often taught to understand agape love encourages this behavior. Specifically, agape love is often presented as a choice to love people who are unlovable. This is a gross misrepresentation. Agape is not our choice. Agape is God’s choice to love us and move our hearts with His love so that we become His love for the world. That’s why 1 John 4:10 is so important: “In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, we are set free from the need to be right so that we can live as gifts from God instead. Check out the rest of last weekend’s sermon audio here:

The God who wants us to stay thirsty

cupid1Eros is an exasperatingly paradoxical kind of love. It is most fulfilled by being perpetually unfulfilled. It is a thirst that wants to stay thirsty. It is also a passion that is beyond our direct rational control, which is what gives it such a dangerous power to destroy the relationships to which we have committed ourselves. At the same time, eros perfectly channeled is nothing less than worshiping God with all of our hearts. It can be directed entirely to God like King David’s eros is in Psalm 42 or it can be directed to God by way of our longing for the intimate depth of another human person who radiates the image of God. What has killed eros in our time is the commodification of sexuality. To see others as “meat” to be consumed sexually is the opposite of true eros. Hear more from my September 22nd sermon:

The God who wants us to be friends #sermon #podcast

friendsFor the second weekend of our sermon series “Love Actually,” we talked about philia, the form of love that is friendship. James 4:4 says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” When I was young, I presumed that becoming Christian meant most fundamentally leaving your old friends behind. You showed Jesus that He was number one by who you were willing to stop hanging out with. Since that time, I’ve come to understand James 4:4 differently. “The world” does not describe a group of people we’re supposed to stop being friends with but a way of perceiving people that does not allow for the authentic friendship that we learn from Jesus. My sermon audio is here, with more thoughts added below: Continue reading

C.S. Lewis talks about erotic love

cs lewisThis weekend, Burke United Methodist Church will continue in our sermon series on the four types of love with a discussion of eros, romantic passion. This sermon series is based on a book called The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. There are certainly things to be offended by in the patriarchal ethos of an early 20th century British old man, but I do think Lewis has important things to say about eros, which I thought I would share particularly with those of you in my congregation as preparation for this weekend’s sermon. I will go through in chronological order of the passages I underlined and starred. Continue reading

The God who wants us to be family #podcast

We’ve been preaching a sermon series at Burke United Methodist Church called “Love actually” (titled after a favorite movie of my wife and me). We’re going through the four types of love in Greek: storge (family affection), philia (friendship), eros (romantic desire), and agape (Godly benevolence). To talk about family love, I chose to look at the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15, or as my favorite preacher Jonathan Martin calls it, “the story of the two lost sons.” I love it when Jonathan preaches about a passage before I preach on it, but two weekends ago we preached about the same passage at the same time, so I’ll be drawing a little from both sermons in this blog post. The better sermon on the topic can be found at Renovatus’ podcast here. I wasn’t enamored with my own sermon, but here it is: Continue reading