My wife and I decided to visit a tiny, old brick, Nazarene church with a total of 10 pews. The flower bed was filled with tomato plants that folks were picking before service. They might have had 25 people in attendance that day. The preacher was a great-grandpa in his late 70’s. There was no worship leader. They just simply put the words up on a screen and everyone started singing. Since there was no worship leader, you could actually hear the people sing. I think everyone sang.
They had a few announcements, took up a collection of clothes for a family that had lost their clothes in a fire, and then started praying hard for those people. Before the preacher got up, they took 10 minutes to greet everyone. Everyone hugged us, told jokes, etc.
Then the preacher got up. This was a very, very short sermon titled “The Best Set Of Glasses For Viewing God”. Here’s what he said:
Do you want to understand God? I mean do you really want to understand God? I’m going to give you the key. Better yet, I’m going to give you the right. People are far-sighted, near-sighted, and just plain confused about God. Now when I show you the “glasses”, you may not see it at first. When you get the right glasses, it sometimes takes awhile for your eyes to get used to them. It takes a while to see right. You got to keep the glasses on and let things sink in. That’s important. Don’t forget that.
Let’s begin first by putting on the right frames: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. Let that sink in. Get used to the frames. I realize that you don’t see anything yet, but bear with me. This is just the frame.
Now, let’s go to the next step. 1 John tells us that God is the same kind of love that we just read about in 1 Corinthians 13. God is agape love. Agape is what God said about Himself. 1Corinthians 13 is also agape love. So, let’s put some lens in the frames and see if we see things clearer. God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but God rejoices with the truth. God always protects, God always trusts, God always hopes, God always perseveres. God never fails. Some of you are thinking, “ , but what about this passage? But what about this Old testament story? but, but, but.” Listen, God is either all agape, or not at all. Don’t assume that you automatically understand everything this passage is saying about agape love. Agape is not as syrupy as you think. Study it, talk to Him about it, search it. If you truly understand Agape love, then you can begin to understand the Flood, why God killed people, why God sent plagues, why God hates sin, why Jesus died for you. BUT, if you don’t begin by looking through the frame and lens of Agape, your view will be destructively distorted. This is the right set of glasses. God said that He IS agape love. Keep the glasses on, and let things sink in. It might take some focusing and searching, but don’t abandon the glasses of Agape. Trust that God knows who He is.
Oh, one more thing…Remember, these glasses are bifocals. Not only do you get to view God correctly, but you get to see what God wants you to see coming through you. If any man BE IN CHRIST, he is a new creature. Start seeing, believing, and let Him do this through you. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul; and love others as you would yourself. If you do, this is what you will see: (Put your name in the blank and read it aloud) ____ is patient, ___ is kind. ____ does not envy, ____ does not boast, ____ is not proud. ____ does not dishonor others, ____ is not self-seeking, ____ is not easily angered, ____ keeps no record of wrongs. ____ does not delight in evil but ____ rejoices with the truth. ____always protects, ____always trusts, ____always hopes, ____always perseveres. ____never fails.
Have you and your friends ever wondered how you can accurately measure spiritual growth? Congregation, tell your friends thathow you measure spiritual growth. Put this on your refrigerator, put it in your heart, and let Him live through you. This is the end of my sermon, but it can be the new beginning of yours. Now someone give me my cane, open my car door, and let’s go give these clothes out to that family right now. Follow me over there.