Sermon Starter: The Love Response

March 22nd, 2011

Love is a powerful motivator, for good and for evil. We often hear inspiring stories of how love offers people a better life, but we sometimes hear of destruction wrought in the name of love. The phrase, “If you love me,” is a particularly dangerous expression, used to manipulate others and serve one’s own self-centered needs or desires. The implication is, “If you love me… you’ll do something to prove it.” In these cases, love is rarely used to improve the lives of others. 

Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (14:15) This is not a manipulative statement, but rather a description of our natural response.  Jesus will not try to trick or guilt us into following his commandments.  Jesus simply tells us that professing love for him means professing our love for God and all of creation.  Out of our love for Jesus comes an undeniable desire to love others, as well.  We will keep Jesus’ commandments as a matter of love, not compulsion, and actions truly born out of the love of Jesus can only build the Kingdom, not tear it down.

Jesus offers this challenge to his disciples at an especially critical time.  He is leaving the earth.  He is leaving his followers.  He is returning to God.  Jesus is explaining to those who will be left that there is still work to be done, sharing his love with the world. Jesus dares all believers: “If you love me – prove it!” The key is that he is not asking us to prove our love to him, but to others. The love we feel for Jesus Christ must be shared so that others will come to know that love for themselves.

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