The Truth about True Love

Are you really a one-hit wonder if you have the same hit song more than once?

This entry is a guest post from a long-time friend, Pastor Jonathan Fitzpatrick. Jonathan and his wife Kristie have been friends of our family since 1998. He was our recent preaching guest at our church, and the condensed version of his sermon follows. He jumped right into our series focus on One Hit Wonders. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy “The Truth about True Love.”

The Contours hit the charts twice with “Do You Love Me,”; once in 1962 and again in 1988. The Surfaris took “Wipeout” to the top ten twice. Ben E. King did it with “Stand by Me.” Chubby Checker did it with “The Twist.” The Ventures did it with “Walk Don’t Run,” and Queen did it with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

It’s hard to think of the Apostle John as a one-hit wonder because he wrote 20% of the N.T. We have the Gospel of John. We have 1, 2, and 3 John, and we also have the book of Revelation. John’s Gospel and his 3 letters repeat the same message again and again and again. So, it’s like he’s climbing the charts multiple times with the same song.

If John were to write a hit song, it would be a love song. Not a sappy love song but a song championing the worth of true Christian love. It’s the same hit song he goes back to again and again. So much so that John became known as the Apostle of Love. If John’s song had a title, I believe it would be “The Truth about True Love.”

John’s love song first hit the charts in his Gospel. In John 13:34-35 he quotes Jesus: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John’s hit love song topped the charts again in 1 John. He mentioned love 43 times in 5 chapters:

In 2 John, he mentioned love 5 more times in 13 verses. The key reference comes in verse 5, “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.”

If John had nothing more to say than “Love one another,” nobody would have a problem with it. Our culture would love John. People would go around wearing tee shirts with quotes from John. Our culture loves the idea of love. We’re in love with love.

But the problem is that we don’t have a clue what real love is. We confuse sex for love. We confuse desire for love. We confuse romance for love. We confuse goosebumps for love. We confuse infatuation for love.

But for John, love is not a wishy-washy sentiment or how someone makes you feel. Love is not a physical response when the right chemistry happens or when someone gives you good vibes. For John, love is the decision to treat someone the way Jesus would, regardless of what they do or have done to you.

The Apostle John connects 2 things with love that, without them, love can’t take you anywhere. If we were to think of love as the cabin of a commercial airplane where we all ride together, the two wings that give it flight are truth and obedience.

You get the impression that the truth is important to John because he uses the word “truth” 5 times in the first 4 verses of 2 John. Our culture believes in and practices a philosophy called relativism. Relativism teaches that there is no such thing as absolute truth. In relativism, everyone gets to decide what is true or not true for them.

A Barna survey indicated that 57 percent of American adults believed knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This idea has become more widespread among Millennials. 74 percent agree strongly or somewhat that whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know. What’s alarming is that 40% of those who claim to be Christians agree with this view.

The truth doesn’t work like this at all. You don’t get your own truth! Either something is true, or it isn’t. It either conforms to reality, or it doesn’t. When 2 people have conflicting statements, both cannot be telling the truth. They might both be lying. One might be lying, and the other honest, but both of them can’t be telling the truth.

If truth is the first wing that makes love fly. The second wing is obedience

Obedience is the second verse of John’s hit love song when he quotes Jesus in John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (15:10).

In the 6th verse of 2 John, John says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.”

To “walk in obedience” is a step-by-step process of doing God’s will. Ultimately, love is impossible without surrendering our will to God’s will.

Jesus makes it clear that the best way to express our love for Him is to obey, His commands. Our love is not proven by Christian tee shirts, bumper stickers, or memes we post on social media. We truly demonstrate our love for God when we do what He says.

Obedience ensures we are doing the loving thing. And the best motivation for obedience is love. If fear, guilt, approval, or a sense of duty are my motivators, then I am doomed for failure. But if love is my motivator, I will do the right thing when the right thing needs to be done and for the right reasons. Obeying out of love takes the burden out of doing what God requires.

Follow this link if you’d like to know more about what it means to be a Christian. It would be a privilege to share that good news with you.

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