Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wilfred and Kim’s Wedding Homily: Perfect Love (1 John 4:7-12, 19)

Wilfred and Kim’s Wedding Homily
Date: 1 Oct 2008

Sermon: Perfect Love

Passage: 1 John 4:7-12, 19
NIV: God’s Love and Ours
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Sona into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice forb our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

19 We love because he first loved us.

Key points from the passage:
1. Where does love comes from? Love comes from God
2. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love
3. God showed his love among us by sending his only Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins
4. No one has seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us
5. We love because God first loved us

C. S. Lewis speaks of four kinds of love. The first three, Affection, Friendship, Eros, are known as natural loves among us. It is natural for us to love our parents, our children, our friends, and our lovers. But the fourth, Charity, is divine love between God and Man. It is not natural for a holy God to love a sinful Man. But He did. Charity love enables us to love God and it is also this same love that enables us to love those who are unlovable: lepers, criminals, and our enemies.

Christians understand Charity, divine love, agape, as the same thing, which is God’s love.

God’s love is unconditional. His love is not about how lovable we are or how we respond to him. We can reject His love but He still loves us. God loves us without any conditions we have to meet on our part. He gave his Son to all, before we can even learn to respond to Him in gratitude. It is unconditional because He loved us before we knew what love is.

You must be wondering why am I talking about the unlovable when we have the most lovable couple in URA here among us today. Yes, and as a testimony to their lovability, I am not surprise to find half the people present here are their colleagues from URA. My brother, Wilfred and Kim have got to be the most lovable people we know. That is true, but what am I talking about then?

Friends, for those who have been married for some time or have been in a long-term relationship, you can testify that there are many moments in our relationships when things can get ugly. Sometimes, as husbands, we vent our frustrations at our wives or our children. As wives, we often complain about our husbands spending too much time watching football. Recently, one of my friend’s wife told me that their TV screen is constantly green, either from the football channel or golf. Only recently, you see black tracks and white smoke from the F1 racing.

The truth is in a marriage there will be moments when we become unlovable. Sometimes, a marriage may bring out the best and the worst in us. Sometimes we can become the most unlovable person in the world. The most beautiful person could become the ugliest person you know because when you are married, nothing is hidden anymore. All our flaws and bad habits are exposed.

A good marriage is when we learn to love each other when the other party becomes unlovable or intolerable. This is when we need God’s love, Charity, to love unconditionally. Eros is romantic love. Eros is erotic love between husbands and wives. Eros is love when you feel like it. Charity is love that goes beyond our natural instinct, intuition and emotions.

But Charity love is not Sympathy. I am not asking you to pretend to love someone when you do not feel like it. I am asking you to ask God to grant you divine love when your natural love runs out. We are unlovable because we are imperfect people.

There is no such thing as a perfect husband or a perfect wife. But I believe in a perfect marriage. A perfect marriage is possible when it is built on the foundation of God’s divine love. It is when two imperfect people come together and ask God to sustain their marriage in ways that are impossible for humans. God is the Master of our Christian marriage. He is the Lord of our relationship with each other.

In a way, we are all unlovable, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). In our state of sin, we are constantly in need of God. We have a God-shaped hole in us. We need God. Without God, we are eternally restless and constantly seeking to satisfy our needs. In the words of St. Augustine who in his youth was a wild and restless man, said “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”

Wilfred and Kim, on your wedding day, I hope to encourage you both with two characteristics of God’s love:
1) Initiative: To always make the first move in seeking reconciliation, and
2) Sacrificial: To always put the other person before self.

God took the initiative to first love us when we were most unlovable. God is the Inventor of Love. He creates Love. God is Love. We love because God first loved us. Be the first to say “I’m sorry” and mean it. Sometimes it does not matter who is in the wrong. You are sorry because you have caused such grief to your spouse.

God’s love is sacrificial. This is how much God loved us. God showed his love among us by sending his only Son to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus Christ died so that we may live and love him back. We also ought to sacrifice for our loved ones. Always put their needs above your own. Christ as the bridegroom made the ultimate sacrifice for her bride, the Church.

Wilfred, do not claim to be the head of the household and demand absolute submission from Kim if you are not prepared to sacrifice your life for her. Kim, submit to Wilfred like you would for our Lord. Just as the church submits in obedience to Christ (Eph 5:22-23), Christ submitted also to the Father’s will.

No one has seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

May "God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.”
- Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

William Morris wrote a poem called Love is Enough. Someone reviewed it and said, “It isn’t.” Love is never enough to sustain a marriage. A good marriage is built on Charity love that is sacrificial in putting the other before self and takes the initiative to reconcile our differences. A good marriage is when we bring all our imperfection before God and allow Him to transform us into one body and one flesh so that in one unity (with God) we are in one Perfect marriage. This is Perfect Love.

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