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Love Completely

socialmedia@cityrise.org August 16, 2021 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Good News, Roger Patterson, romans, sermon, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday August 15, at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

Do you feel it?  Have you seen it on Facebook or Instragram?

If you haven’t felt it lately, I want to help you see that LOVE IS IN THE AIR.

This past Thursday, we celebrated 26 years of marriage.

And since we are preaching through Romans 12 right now, I want to tell you a little story about Julee P…

The first time I met her…many of you have heard about when I met her at her front doorstep…I was invited to a Bible Study that was held at her house and I was late. Bible Study was underway…there were maybe 15-20 people there…and the guy that was teaching the Bible study was teaching through Romans 12.

I sit down in front of the fireplace on the floor and say hello.  And this gorgeous girl who had opened the door is not seated 7 or 8 feet away from me facing my direction.

You see, when you come in late, you often get the seats on the front row…up near the teacher.

Well, I was late and was up near the teacher because no one got up and offered me their seat…and Andy asks, does anyone know Romans 12:1-2.

At that point, Julee jumps in and recites Romans 12:1-2 by heart…and right then, I knew…. “OHHHHH, watch out! This girl is as hot on the inside as she is on the outside!!!”

I knew right then that I had to get to know her more.

Well, 3 years of dating and 26 years and 3 days later, here we are!

I want to tell you something! I am crazy about this woman! Outside of my relationship with Jesus Christ, this is the most life-giving relationship I have. Jesus is my source, Julee is my blessing…and I love being around her, I love being with her, I love doing life with her.

But when I began with love is in the air, can you feel it? I am sure that many of you were like, “Um…Pastor, no it’s not! Have you looked around?  People have gone crazy. People are angry.”

And we hear all of the chatter – you know, the chatter of:

“I’m not getting vaccinated”

“I can’t believe these people won’t get vaccinated…”

“Masks…”

“No Masks…”

And what we don’t realize is that we are being divided and pit against one another.

And we are going everywhere we are going with an angry spirit – mad at the conspiracy theorists, mad at the vaccine and mask mandaters, mad at the anti-vaxers, mad at the democrats and mad at the Republicans.

We are living life mad, angry, and frustrated.

Can I remind you of something?

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

Church, I want to give you a sure-fire way to navigate the complexities of relationships in the midst of Covid-19.  Are you ready?

Love Never Fails!

When Love is in the air, Love Never Fails!

Can you say that with me? – Love Never Fails!

Now, let’s look at the next few verses in Romans 12, as they echo 1 Corinthians 13.

Romans 12:9-13

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Now, before we dig into this text, let’s keep it into the context.

Romans 12 is the hinge of the entire book.  For the first 11 chapters, Paul has been teaching us the theology of salvation:

  • how Jew and Gentile alike are all in the same boat – sinners in need of a savior.
  • How we must be justified (declared not guilty) by faith in Jesus
  • How Abraham was justified by Faith and David was justified by faith…
  • How in chapters 5-8 we are to grow and be built up and confident that we will be glorified.
  • Then we looked at chapters 9-11 and God’s Sovereign Plan for Israel

And we get to chapter 12

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The NIV and the NAS, both say, “Therefore, I urge you…”

Paul’s appeal here has an urgency to it.  This is the big pivot in this book.  It’s the declaration that, since God is so merciful to the Jew and the Gentile, and since God has worked out salvation for all who call on his name, we are to live differently. We are to live lives that are an offering to him.

We offer him our hands and feet, our eyes and ears, our mouth, our minds…all that we are. We step into the offering plate as a living sacrifice. And we do this all, in view of the MERCY of GOD!

Now, immediately after Paul urges us to offer ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice because of God’s MERCY, he then says, “And now, I want you to understand what you are to do, because of GRACE.”

And that’s how Paul introduces us to these next few verses…in view of GRACE.

Notice these next few words in Romans 12:3 and then I’ll share with you my outline.

Romans 12:3a

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you…

Now, before I share my outline with you, let’s make sure we can distinguish the difference between mercy and grace. In many ways, they are like Peanut Butter and Jelly, Batman and Robin, Steak and Potatoes…they go hand in hand.

But in verse 1, Paul says, “By the mercies of God…”

And remember, for a Sovereign to be Merciful, He withholds judgement.  So, when Paul says, “By the mercies of God,” he is saying, “Since God has withheld what you rightfully deserve, offer yourselves to him as a living sacrifice.”

So, Mercy is God withholding what I deserve…his judgment upon me because I am an sinner and I have fallen short of the glory of God.

Then, he says, “For by the grace given to me…” and he then begins to instruct us how to live.

Grace: You can define grace with a number of words.  One definition simply offers synonyms…

  • Beauty, charm, favor, goodwill, free benevolence

Another says it this way…

  • A special manifestation of the divine presence, activity, power; glory, a favor, expression of kindness, gift, blessing.

Fundamentally, grace is the gift of God’s presence, activity and power in my life that I don’t deserve, but is vital for my own development and usefulness.

So, in view of God’s Mercy – that he withheld from you what you deserve…and in light of the fact that you have been given gifts of grace to build one another up and serve one another…WE ARE CALLED TO BE A PEOPLE OF LOVE.

Before I share my outline with you, let’s make sure we understand this love.

In this portion, we are going to see the word Love multiple times.  In the first instance, it is the word Agape – which is the unconditional love that takes action to serve regardless of the response. That’s the love of God given to us demonstrated by placing his son, Jesus, on the cross.  This is Love as a COMMITMENT. It is an UNCONDITONAL LOVE!

Then, there is the love that is Phileo love – it’s the more common love found here. It is “brotherly love.” It’s love with emotion and passion and zeal and feeling.  

Now, Let’s look at 5 characteristics of Christian Love that are to be found in our lives at all times.

5 Characteristics of Christian Love

  1. Love good over evil.
  2. Love others.
  3. Love fervently.
  4. Love through struggles.
  5. Love in need.

I. Love Good Over Evil (12:9)

Romans 12:9

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

The word for love here is Agape! We are instructed to have a love of commitment that sets its face regardless of response – and it’s to be authentic. It’s almost moronic to say it this way.

The Apostle Paul could have said, “Let your Unconditional, Authentic Commitment to each other be without hypocrisy.”

The word Genuine is the word literally meaning “without hypocrisy.” The hypokrites was the play-actor, and Paul is arguing that Christian love is not theatre.

The NIV translates this word as “sincere,” which is from the Latin words sine cera  which means “without wax,” and it refers to the ancient practice of using wax to hide cracks in inferior pottery so the vessel could be sold for a higher price than one that was full of cracks.

But if a pottery was of great design, it would be stamped “sine cera”, meaning no wax had to be used. In regard to people, the idea is that a sincere person is one who is not hiding his true nature by hypocritical words or actions.

When you think of love that was hypocritical, we think of Judas.  Judas gave an outward expression of love by kissing Jesus on the cheek. But this outward display was not authentic. It was full of hypocrisy.

So, to begin with, Love is more than a feeling.

  • It is an action, a position.
  • Jesus: the cross demonstrated love.

Someone once said,

“Love is the greatest action word that ever existed.”

We must work to make sure it is genuine.

  • Without hypocrisy.

Q: Why would it be tempting to love hypocritically?

A: We would be tempted to this when we view our relationships in light of our interests, race, class, history, or blood.

But the church is only tied together by the blood of Christ. His blood supersedes all of the things that the world uses to divide and subdivide us.

And we come to the second half of this verse that says that we are to, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

A strong statement. It’s not: abstain from evil…

It says, “Abhor what is evil.”  This means we aren’t to tolerate evil.

1 Corinthians 6:12

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

 In this text, Paul is quoting the philosophies of his day where people were claiming libertythey were free to do what they wanted. 

But Paul responds, “They may be lawful, but not helpful…and you may feel free to do it, but it will enslave you.”

John Stott helps us understand this genuine love while abhorring evil. He says…

We should not be alarmed by this, as genuine love is not a blind sentiment, but rather is discerning. It is so passionately devoted to the beloved object that it hates every evil which is incompatible with his or her highest welfare. Love’s hatred of evil expresses an aversion, an abhorrence, even a loathing, while love’s clinging to what is good expresses a sticking or bonding as if with glue.[1]

Christians who love like this sees the evil that evil can do and they fight for those they love. 

This is the love a parent for their child.  I tell my kids, “There is nothing you can ever do to keep me from loving you.”  It’s an agape love. It’s unconditional love.

And I love them so much that when I see them wading into evil, I fight for them!  I stand up to it and even stand up to them…because I know the evil that evil can do in their lives.  And I cling to what is good.  I cling to my bible. I cling to my church family. I cling to the truth and I abhor the evil that evil can do.

That’s 1.  What else do we see about Christian love here?

5 Characteristics of Christian Love

  1. Love good over evil
  2. Love others
  3. Love fervently
  4. Love through struggles
  5. Love in need

II. Love Others (12:10)

Romans 12:10

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Some of y’all are thinking, “Brotherly Affection — All I ever did with my brothers was fight…”

This brotherly love is a devoted love.  Yes, there my be some family squabbles at times, but nothing from the outside divided the brothers. When anything came against the brothers, they were one, united, and committed to one another.

Yet, we are being divided over masks and/or vaccines and politics.  Folks, we need to be careful that we get so convinced we are right on our issues that we fail to be right before God with one another.

Jesus told us to love one another. Listen to his words:

John 13:34

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

John 13:35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15:17

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

We are to love with Brotherly affection: This is special love for our church family.

  • This is familial love.
  • The world? Yes. But the church? Definitely.

 

Outdo one another in showing honor: Excel in honor giving.

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

We need this love flowing through us to others.

I had a chance to run into one of our young couples at our West U Campus last Sunday. They had just married and we were talking. I said, “Oh, Julee and I are celebrating 26 years this week.”

I think offered them some encouragement. Marriage isn’t hard if you do this one thing over and over again…and I looked at him and said, “If you love her and serve her more than you love and serve yourself, you will do your part in this marriage.” I then turned to her and said, “and if you love him and serve him more than you do yourself, you will do your part in this marriage.”

It’s that simple. In love, we are to lower ourselves for others.  We honor them more than ourselves. I dare you to do it!  Is your marriage in need of help? Help yourselves and lower yourselves and serve and love your spouse more than you do yourself.  It will change your marriage.  Run this play over and over and over and over again. And when you both do it, it will be blissful!!!!

Live this way…and you will say, “Love is in the air!”

That’s 2.  What else do we see about Christian love here?

5 Characteristics of Christian Love

  1. Love good over evil
  2. Love others
  3. Love fervently
  4. Love through struggles
  5. Love in need

III. We are called to Love Fervently (12:11)

Romans 12:11

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Notice the phrase, “Do not be slothful in zeal…” The KJV actually translates the phrase as “Not slothful in business,” continuing the idea of that which we “ought to be doing,” as we go about our normal routines or our daily business.

We often think of commercial dealings when we see this word “business,” but it can be helpful for us to think of it in these terms:

  1. We are to be Zealous and Fervent in the business of being a Christian. This is the most important business of all, being a follower of Jesus Christ with all our hearts and minds. To do it in a passive, apathetic, part-time, or slovenly manner is unacceptable.

Robert Candlish wrote:

“Your sanctification must be made a matter of business. It must be cared for and prosecuted in a business-like way; not … slothfully, as it if were a process that might be left to itself, but industriously, … diligently, with regularity and punctuality, as you would manage a worldly concern, on the common principles of worldly energy and worldly care and worldly zeal.”

  1. We are to be Zealous and Fervent in the business of being a Christian father or mother. Raising a family takes work, and Christian love demands that this too be done steadily and without being lazy.

James Boice says,

“Children will not raise themselves in godliness. Left to themselves they will grow up like an untended garden, full of weeds and other wild things. It takes work to raise children well.

  1. We are to be Zealous and Fervent in the business of Church business. Church leaders should never conduct themselves in the work of the church in a slipshod manner. We must not merely do what needs to be done just to get by, when we would never run our own business or tend to our own matters in this way.

The work of the church, including how we manage the building, should be done in the best possible way we know how. After all, if it is done well, the church will remain as a place for worship and work long after we are gone and our businesses and homes have passed to other hands.

  1. We are to be Zealous and Fervent in the business of earning a living. The way we make a living should certainly be included in the way we consider our “business,” for this is a significant part of the human experience.

As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23-24

Colossians 3:23-24

 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Personal Application: I want to take this verse seriously:

  • I hope you see how passionate I am for Jesus and my walk with him.
  • I hope you know that without a doubt I am absolutely head over heels in love with my wife.
  • I hope you can see my passion for my children and their own walks with Jesus.
  • I pray that you know how passionate I am that we do the work of the church with excellence.
  • And I pray that you will see that I am passionate about my work. I want to be known as a man who served the Lord.

We are to love with Zeal – Fervently!

5 Characteristics of Christian Love

  1. Love good over evil
  2. Love others
  3. Love fervently
  4. Love through struggles
  5. Love in need

IV. Love Through Struggles (12:12)

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

New Testament Hope is centered in the Resurrection of Jesus. Since he was raised, we too, who are in Christ, shall be raised.

The call to rejoice in hope is to remember that no matter what life brings our way, there is a coming victory!  Death has been defeated.  So we rejoice – we worship in the midst of the struggle.

I saw this recently at the funeral of our friend Sheri Bullard. Sheri was Dr. Landrum, our former pastor’s, assistant. Sheri and Rick moved to humble about 15 years ago.  She was young, vibrant and full of so much life.  She had a cancer as a young mom, and now, 30 years later, she suffered from a new cancer – Stage 4 Breast Cancer that metastasized to the liver.

Sheri lost her battle within a couple of months of the diagnosis.

At the Funeral, when it was time to worship, no one asked anyone to stand. But a few measures in, her husband, Rick, a dear friend, got on his feet, and turned around and asked the church to do the same. I was so proud of Rick. He chose to love God in the midst of the trial. He chose to invite others to do the same…to worship the king of all kings. We worshipped in the tribulation because of the hope of Resurrection!

What trial are you in?  Are you worshipping God?  Rejoice…you will have the ultimate victory. So, endure. Be steadfast and immovable. God is on his throne and he is worthy of your praise.

Alright, last one…

5 Characteristics of Christian Love

  1. Love good over evil
  2. Love others
  3. Love fervently
  4. Love through struggles
  5. Love in need

V. Love in Need (12:13)

Romans 12:13

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Generosity is the conduit by which the love of God enters the heart.  God is the first and most generous giver and the way he moved our hearts is by giving his Son.

We have received freely…we are to give freely!

Do you want to move the heart?  Well, only God can move a heart…but do you want to partner with God to see a heart moved?

Give…Give Generously.  Generosity Begins at home! 

Do you want love to be in the air at your home?

Then be generous.

Do you want love to be in the air at church? – Be generous with the saints!

It says here that we are to contribute to the needs of the saints. We come along and we stand with and we serve.

Contribute to the needs:

  • This is where community gets real.
  • You begin to be known, but also to know.

You put yourself out there to serve.

You can do this through your community groups. You can do this by joining our mercy house ministries team. You can do this by going on a mission trip with us.  There are so many ways for you to get involved serving.

I want to spend a moment calling your attention to two things –

  1. Our Serve Summit – Our Serve Summit is Sunday, August 29th at 5:30 p.m. at our Crosspoint Campus.
    1. If you are one of our volunteers, we want to honor you and encourage you in your serving.
    2. If you are being led to serve and use your gifts, this night is a night to come and avail yourself to opportunities to serve. You can learn more, connect with a team and get trained.

Slide: Serve Summit

Sunday August 29th, Crosspoint Campus

5:30 p.m.

  1. Our Prayer Team – All month long, you will be seeing testimonies like you did on the screen as we started the message time. We are looking for more people to be trained for our prayer team. We are trying to mobilize people to be praying during our services and for the ministry that is taking place. We have a leader in Mary Ann Bridgwater, a member of our church who runs a prayer ministry called Pray the Word Ministries, and she is gifted in teaching and mobilizing the body of Christ to pray.
    1. Here are two training times: Aug 25 at WU and Sep 1 at CP—6pm

Prayer Ministry Training

Wednesday, August 25th at West U Baptist – 6 p.m.

Wednesday, September 1, at Crosspoint – 6 p.m.

Do you know what we need more than anything else right now?  We need to give love and we need to receive love.

We can’t expect it of the world. But we should expect it of one another.

Will you simply pray a prayer asking God to renew your love?

  • Ask him to search your heart…is there love in the air…or anger, bitterness or something else?
  • Ask him to love someone who is difficult to love through you.

Will you intentionally love someone who thinks differently than you do about masks, the virus, the vaccine or the president?

When we come around, may it be said of us that there is Love in the air!

[1] John Stott, Romans, 331.

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