This Sunday, we are starting a new series called “The Church: God’s Dwelling Place”, and we will be studying from 1 Corinthians.
Let me briefly share some of the academic reasons why 1 Corinthians is important for you and me:
- Theological Insight:
This epistle provides theological insight into various topics such as the nature of the church, the role of spiritual gifts, and the significance of resurrection.
- Practical Guidance:
It offers practical guidance on real-life issues, moral dilemmas, interpersonal conflicts, and questions about Christian living.
- Cultural & Historical Context:
It teaches us about the early development of Christianity in a different cultural and historical context.
- Spiritual Growth:
It teaches us what spiritual growth looks like and provides teachings on various human values.
- Church Dynamics:
It instructs us on how to handle disagreements within the church and emphasizes importance of diversity within the community.
There is a significant amount of academic knowledge, but there is a problem. Unfortunately, this academic knowledge has resulted in divisions within the church. Since 1 Corinthians covers a wide range of topics, people have developed different opinions and perspectives. However, instead of complementing and respecting each other’s views, some churches have drawn strong conclusions and created divisions among God’s children. This is not right and it should concern us. Therefore, as we begin studying 1 Corinthians at Gathering, we want to focus on different goals that I believe were also Paul’s original intentions when he wrote this letter to the Church in Corinth.
During that time, the church in Corinth was experiencing turmoil and chaos, with divisions among people regarding leadership, moral and ethical issues, and more. Paul’s purpose in writing this letter was to redirect their hearts towards God. He wanted to help them realize that above all else, they should prioritize loving God and loving people. Paul clearly articulates this in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV):
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
These words carry great significance as Paul reminds us that loving God and loving people are of utmost importance.
Therefore, as we begin our study on 1 Corinthians, I urge you, brothers and sisters, to make the goal of our study to love God and love people. Continuously ask yourself how each truth is helping you love God and love people. If that is the goal, then I believe we will successfully meet the objective of this series.
Perhaps some of you may be thinking of approaching me and Jinson to hear our opinions on certain topics discussed in this book. I would like to encourage you to feel free to approach us and ask challenging questions, but please do so with love and for the sake of love. That is my only request.
Additionally, let us be open to respectfully disagreeing on certain matters, as it is possible that we may hold different views. At Gathering, we refer to these as openhanded issues and closed-handed issues. On open-handed issues, we can have differing opinions and still remain united. However, if certain issues are considered closed-handed, we should feel the freedom to take different paths while maintaining
mutual love and respect for one another.
By the way, the Love that we are talking about is the ‘Agape’ Love, the unconditional, selfless & divine love.
Since we will be focusing on loving God and loving people, in today’s sermon I want to talk bout the importance of love. I want to share 6 reasons why Love is important so we can keep in mind as we begin our studies on 1 Corinthians.
1. Reflects God’s Nature:
The Bible teaches that God is love (1 John 4:8).
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Therefore, embodying love, which is an essential aspect of human nature, is widely regarded as a profound reflection of the divine nature and character of God. It signifies the deep connection between individuals and the divine, emphasizing the importance of love in our lives and its transformative power to bring us closer to the divine presence. The Gospel reflects God’s love in several ways:
- Sacrificial Love: The Gospel demonstrates God’s sacrificial love for humanity, as seen in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God showed His immense love for us, willing to give up His Son to save us from sin and offer us eternal life.
- Redemption and Forgiveness: The Gospel reveals God’s love through the redemption and forgiveness it offers. Romans 5:8 states, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Despite our sinful nature, God’s love extends to us, providing a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be reconciled with Him.
- Unconditional Love: The Gospel demonstrates God’s unconditional love for us. In Romans 8:38-39, it says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s love is not based on our performance or worthiness, but it remains constant and unchanging.
- Restoration and New Life: The Gospel shows God’s love by offering restoration and new life to those who believe. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” God’s love brings transformation and the opportunity to experience a renewed relationship with Him, giving us hope and purpose. In summary, the Gospel reveals God’s love through sacrificial love, redemption, forgiveness, unconditional love, and the restoration of a new life in Christ. It is a
powerful demonstration of God’s love for humanity, offering salvation and eternal hope.
2. Greatest Commandment:
Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend
all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus summarized all the commandments in the law as love for God and love for neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). This means that love is not only a virtue, but also the guiding principle for all our actions and decisions. Love encompasses compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and selflessness. It is the driving force behind acts of charity, justice, and mercy.
- Love for God compels us to worship Him with sincerity and devotion. It involves recognizing His sovereignty, seeking His guidance, and surrendering our lives to His will. Love for God also involves cultivating a deep and personal relationship with Him through prayer, meditation, and studying His Word.
- Love for neighbor requires us to treat others with respect, empathy, and fairness. It means putting aside our own interests and priorities to care for the needs of others. This can be demonstrated through acts of service, generosity, and hospitality. Love for neighbor also includes advocating for justice, defending the oppressed, and promoting equality.
- By emphasizing the importance of love, Jesus challenges us to go beyond mere compliance with rules and regulations. He calls us to embrace a higher standard of morality, rooted in genuine love for God and others. This means that our ethical behavior should not be driven by legalism or self-interest, but by a sincere desire to honor God and uplift those around us. In conclusion, love is the foundation of all ethical behavior. It encompasses both love for God and love for neighbor. By prioritizing love in our lives, we can strive to live a life of integrity, compassion, and righteousness.
3. Unites Believers:
Colossians 3:14 (ESV):
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Love is not only important but absolutely crucial for fostering and nurturing unity, peace, and a sense of togetherness within the Christian community. As stated in Colossians 3:14, love serves as the foundation upon which the entire community thrives, grows, and flourishes. It is the driving force that binds all believers together, creating a strong and unbreakable bond that withstands any challenges that may arise. Without love, the Christian community would be lacking the very essence that makes it a true representation of God’s love and grace. Therefore, it is imperative that every member of the community embraces and practices love in all aspects of their lives, ensuring a
vibrant and harmonious fellowship that brings glory to God and spreads His message of love to the world.
4. Evidence of Faith:
John 13:35 (ESV):
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is widely regarded as a tangible and visible manifestation of one’s unwavering faith and devotion, serving as a clear indication of being a genuine and committed follower of Christ, as emphasized in the biblical verse from John 13:35. This profound concept highlights the significance and importance of love as a fundamental aspect of living a life that reflects the teachings and principles of Christianity, providing believers with a compelling and irrefutable testimony of their faith and dedication to their spiritual journey.
5. Transformative Power:
Love, with its profound and transformative nature, possesses the remarkable ability to bring about profound changes in both individuals and societies.
It serves as a catalyst for forgiveness, fostering a sense of understanding, empathy, and compassion. Love has the power to heal wounds, repair broken relationships, and promote reconciliation, enabling individuals and communities to move forward and embrace a harmonious coexistence. Moreover, love inspires selfless action, motivating individuals to contribute to the welfare of others, to engage in acts of kindness and generosity, and to create a positive impact on the world around them.
Through its boundless capacity to touch hearts and minds, love emerges as an extraordinary force capable of shaping the course of human existence, transcending barriers, and fostering a sense of unity and interconnectedness among all beings.
6. Eternal Value:
1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV):
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
While other gifts and achievements may cease or lose their significance, love is enduring and is portrayed as the greatest of the spiritual virtues (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love transcends time and space, connecting souls in a profound and everlasting bond. It is a force that knows no boundaries and has the power to heal, inspire, and transform.
Love is the essence of our existence, the fuel that drives us to be compassionate, kind, and selfless. It is through love that we find meaning and purpose in life, and it is through love that we can truly understand and appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Love is not just an emotion, but a state of being that encompasses empathy, forgiveness, and acceptance.
It is a beacon of hope in times of darkness, a guiding light that leads us towards unity and harmony. Love is the thread that weaves through the fabric of humanity, connecting us all in a tapestry of compassion and understanding. It is a gift that we can give and receive, a source of joy and fulfillment that enriches our lives in countless ways. So let us cherish and cultivate love in our hearts, for it is love that brings us closer to our true selves and to one another.
As we conclude, let me encourage and urge you to keep in mind the significance of loving God and loving people as we study 1 Corinthians.