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:

C.S. Lewis on loving God through loving people

For our sermon series Love Actually, which we wrapped up this past weekend, we’ve been reading through C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves on the four types of love the Greeks identified: storge (affection), philia (friendship), eros (passion), and agape (charity). One of the anxious questions that comes up around agape is whether loving God amounts to turning away from our earthly loves. When we go to heaven, will we somehow stop caring about the people we cared about in this life because we’re completely focused on God? Lewis has an amazing passage in his agape chapter that I wanted to just read as part of my sermon yesterday until my sermon took a completely different direction. So I thought I would share it below. Continue reading

Eucharist is how Jesus makes love to His church

jesus water blood
Hear me out; I’m not trying to be offensive. Several weeks ago, I listened to a podcast from Bruxy Cavey in which he said that we need to reclaim the phrase making love. We shouldn’t be offended by talking about sex; we should be offended by the desecration of sex. I preached one of the worst sermons I’ve ever preached this past Saturday because I couldn’t muster the courage to come out and say directly what I felt called to say: that Eucharist is to the church what sex is to a marriage. Living without either is about equally bearable. Continue reading

Love is not love unless it becomes flesh

One of the things I acquired from growing up in evangelical youth groups and parachurch organizations was expertise on what love is and isn’t. I imagine it was a trickle-down from C.S. Lewis’s famous book on the Four Loves, which is about the four Greek words for love: agape, eros, philos, and storge. The main thing I remember having drilled into me is stuff like this: “The world says love is a feeling — that’s eros, romantic love, but the love in the Bible is agape, which is a choice.” “You don’t have to like everybody, but we’re called to love everybody.” Etc. I recently heard some words in a sermon at the Virginia annual conference from a Cambodian Methodist preacher named Romy del Rosario that defined what love is and isn’t in a very different way that actually contradicts the evangelical youth group definition. Continue reading