How can we love Orlando?
CrossPointe Downtown is located 3 miles from where 50 people were killed early Sunday morning. It was an event that awaked us that tragedy is always nearby. Our church meets in the downtown YMCA where I volunteer as a chaplain, that afternoon I came in on shift Sunday afternoon and realized that devastation of this even was one that impacted some of the membership at the downtown YMCA. I had the opportunity to pray with YMCA leadership and members as we mourned the news together.
As time passes and the dust begins to settle the question I ask myself is this: How can we love Orlando? My aim in asking this question is not posturing or conflict, but to equip our church downtown to be faithfully loving and faithfully serving in the Orlando community.
This Sunday preached on 1 John 4.7-12 and how appropriate that our church could behold God’s word together for this scripture. In the heart of this passage for the church we see that because we are loved by God we are to be a loving people.
1 John 4.7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
How can we know about the love of God, unless God tells us about the love of God? God’s love is revealed to us through his word. We see from this scripture that God is love meaning that love is an attribute of God and the attributes of his goodness, mercy, and grace flow from his love. Even God’s wrath flows from his love, because God is the one who is the source and definition of love. The only way we can understand true love is to understand the true God. If we understand the true God who is love, then we will be a loving people thus validating that we are born of God. To love God means that you love others, if you do not love others it means that you do not really love God. The two always go together, you can not say you love God and not love those around you. If this is the case then you do not love God.
To adequately love Orlando means that we proclaim the God of love whom we find proclaimed in he Bible and that God is not silent on his love, that God is not silent on sin, that God is not silent on hurt, but it is through those things that he wants us to acknowledge our need for his love.
1 John 4.9-10
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us ad sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
God’s love is not simply spoken of in his word but it is proven on the cross. The cross shows us the lengths that God will go to make his love known to us. Not only that, but the cross shows us that the only way to know the love of God is to see it through God’s Son Jesus Christ. Most people will give a hearty amen when it comes to the statement “God is Love”, but here is where Christianity differs. God is love, and his love can only be known through his Son. Why is this? Because in order for God to be loving to people who have turned their back on him, who did not want any part of him, who would rather live life on their own terms that to follow a good and righteous God, he had to make a way. What this means for me is that Jesus had to die for my sin problem because it was deserving of death. God could reveal his love no other way, because God could not be just and allow sin to go unpunished. This is why Jesus is our “propitiation” he is our sin bearing substitute. Unlike a substitute teacher who may not be as good as the real thing, the reason why needed a substitute is because we would never be as good as we needed to be to receive God’s love. This is why we need Jesus, he lived a perfect and sinless life which made him the perfect sacrifice to take away sin.
Some people would say that God is unloving because of this, but I believe they do not see that this is the most loving display of grace ever known. God gave his only Son. C.S. Lewis tells us “The Son of God became a man, so that men might become sons of God”. God gave at great cost to himself! In a world of self-love that is totally self-seeking, God showed a love that was self-sacrificing. “For God so love that he gave”, love is completely and totally giving, meaning that love is forgiving. We see the forgiving love of God at the cross and recognize that this is the only way to receive the eternal love of God, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is Christ who proves God’s love on the cross.
We must show Orlando that God's love is proven on the cross of Christ. To show this is to be loving as God has shown us. We can have true love no other way!
1 John 4.11-12 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
To the beloved child of God bought by the blood of the precious Savior, how much does God love you? Look to the cross and you need not look any further. He loves you so much that he died that you might live. Now, how much should you love others? Well, the cross shows us that our love must be demonstrated in the same way. We must love so much it hurts, we must forgive with-out asking for someone to pay for it. God chose not to reveal himself through angels, but sinners saved by grace. We are a walking demonstration of who God is, because he abides in us. Not only that but his love is perfected in us, meaning that as we show the perfect love of God, people will see the perfect love of God in us. We cannot make God’s love anymore perfect than it is already, but we sure can show people that we have a love that is perfect. While we are flawed and sinful human beings, we know a love with out flaws and imperfections. This is the love that compels our desire from with-in to love others. This is a love that pushes us out of our comfort zone to put our love into deeds and demonstrate God’s love with tangible acts of kindness that knows no bounds.
How can we love Orlando? I believe the love of God will well up in you and the Holy Spirit will give you opportunities to love in ordinary and extraordinary ways. But the best way to love Orlando is to love like God loves. A God who wants the world to see of his love through Christ Jesus. Every corner of our city needs that love, a perfect love.
- note that I adapted the 3 points of love from Warren Wiersbe