Message Supplement (3 May 2015)

Today we learn about God as love (1 John 4:7-21) and of love in action through outreach (Acts 8:26-40).

“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). What a gift! God and love are one as the power of the universe unfolds. Of all the countless descriptions about love, this is one of the best. Simply stated, God is love. Christianity is the religion that supposed to be about love above all other faiths. Some peoples’ gods are portrayed as animals, weird other-worldly creatures, or some unfathomable, unreachable entity that is too abstract to make sense. Not so with us. God is for us love that surrounds us, flows through us, and Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love.

There’s no time for gloating over who has a superior religion. We have a tough task to make sure we act with love and not just rehearse Bible verses. Indeed, it’s not about a book or religion as much as it is about our personal connection to our universal God of love. Are you feeling it? Divine love, that is. Choose to make love your all-consuming passion. So much are we to embrace love that it becomes the DNA of our existence. As a concept, love is inexhaustible; as a practice, love is transforming.  When we do it right, love comes together as both attitude and behavior. Our great challenges involves learning love and then doing it. Without this connection, love becomes just another concept. We make love real when we receive and share it.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear …” (1 John 4:18a). Fear can hold us back and interfere with our willingness and ability to do the right thing. The human condition is often plagued by an unholy trinity of fear, ignorance and anger. Thankfully, love trumps this conspiracy of darkness—if we allow it. How important is it to act lovingly? “Those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars” (1 John 4: 20a). Ouch! The spiritual equation is clear: love doesn’t easily play favorites. We can’t isolate ourselves and claim we are loving God if we don’t love people (including the difficult people who test our patience). Love is reflexive in that we can demonstrate our love of God by loving other people. Similarly, we love people and this pathway reveals God. Choose wisely. Choose love.

Now, we turn to an episode about love in action in from Acts 8:26-40. Jesus’ disciple Philip met a royal assistant known as the Ethiopian eunuch. This meeting marks one of the Bible’s key examples of outreach love. The unnamed eunuch asked Philip about the reference to a prophet from an Old Testament passage in Isaiah. Okay, so t’s not common for people off the street to want to know details about some Bible story. However, the issue is that Philip was eager to respond to the request and he did so without making excuses. Like Philip, we are challenged to help people. Behind all this is that we must have something to share. What is it that we’re willing to tell the world about our faith? What is it that you want to say about God?

Inviting people to Renew or some other ministry at St. John church can be a rewarding experience. It feels good to do God’s work and to help our church survive and thrive. When we meet people we can do so with the thought that they, like us, need God’s help. To experience life’s joy we feed our souls and immerse ourselves in love and truth. We can overflow with energy and enthusiasm no matter what our age. Our friends, neighbors and relatives can perceive that we embrace something wonderful. The power of the Holy Spirit will help us do what God wants. The essence of God comes through us as we gain energy and share our blessings.

Even with our limited knowledge there’s much to share as we train ourselves to be more joyful. Many of us were raised to be quiet and not to draw attention to our faith. Yet, God challenges us to think and act ways that emphasize love through outreach. Please pray that you will feel empowered to speak and share how wonderful is your life in Christ. –Reverend Larry Hoxey