The Risk of Loving
Texts: Romans 5:6-8; 1Corinthians 13:4-8
Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 5:8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
1Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 13:6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 13:8
Love never ends.
You know, it is more comfortable to offer something to someone you already know or relate to than to make an open offer to anyone and everyone. You might not want to go through all the trouble of preparing a delicious meal, the dessert, and all. And then you set a nice large table with a nice table cloth in your front lawn and then call people to stop by to join you for dinner. You run the risk not only of eating alone but also of having to do a lot of packing in the end and your nice gesture to be questioned and more.
It is easier to offer a nice dinner to a few friends you have invited over to your home. You know they will show up if they had agreed to come and you will not risk being left to eat leftovers many times after that. Your friends will be grateful to your offer and never doubt the sincerity of your hospitality.
Our friends will never question the intention our acts of kindness and love because they know us. But doing acts of kindness and love to people who do not know us not only can make them question or doubt our intention but even reject them.
A couple of years ago, I was going home from church at lunch time. As I was about to enter the house, a car stalled on the street just in the front of my neighbor’s. There were two women in the car and one of them got out and tried to push the car off the street while the other steered the wheel. So I started to head over to help push the car. As I got closer to the car the woman pushing turned around and yelled at me: Stop! Do not come. I do not need your help! Go away! I was taken aback by her attitude but then turned around and went home.
There is a risk when we show gestures of love. To love is to put ourselves in a vulnerable position. And here I am talking the idea of love according to the Bible, the agape love.
This kind of love is sacrificial and given without the expectation of getting anything in return. Agape love calls us to give of ourselves without limitations or conditions.
In the Gospel according to John we read that God loved the world that he sent his only begotten son. John also tells us that Jesus came to his own but his own rejected him. The greatest risk God ever took was by giving us his precious Son regardless if He would be accepted or not. Yet to everyone who received him and believed in him God gave them power to be called children of God.
The passage in Romans 5, Paul interprets the risk God was willing to take when Paul says: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us, (Romans 5:6-8).
Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.
But God dared to show us his love. God took the risk in giving us his Son while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
That is the cost of love. Love does not weigh the price before it is given. That is why Paul when writing to the Corinthian church he wrote the love song or poem:
Love is patient; love is kind;
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing,
But rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
Love is patient. The one who loves know how to wait and does not demand to be the first.
The one who loves is kind, never envious or self-absorbed or imposing on others.
The one who loves never imposes his or her preferences. It freely yields to the preferences of others.
The one who loves has faith like a child, believe all things, does not lose hope and patiently carries the burdens with others.
Love never sets limitations. Love never ends because it flows from the heart of the Eternal God who lives forever and ever.
My dear friends, love is risky business. When we love we become vulnerable and open to rejection and disillusion.
For us who are married, we know that the day we committed ourselves in marriage we committed ourselves to love that one person above all others. That day we committed to love another person for our whole life. Did I know Lilian will still love me after 18 years? No, I did not! But just as she committed to love me, I did to her. And we do our best to keep loving each other.
In love do our best to provide for our children; we make sacrifices and invest our lives in them. We give them advice and guide them hoping they will grow up to become responsible citizens. We love them hoping then in turn will love others and be thankful to us their parents. Do I know how will our children treat us when they grow up? No, I don’t! But I cannot but love them regardless. From what I know, children who are loved more often than not respond with love. But it is true that not all children raised in love fill the expectations.
The church is also called to love. As a collective body that we are in every act of kindness and compassion we do in the name of Christ, we take a risk. We risk being lied to by strangers who come and tell us their stories of need and ask the church to help them. But that is the price of love. Love takes chances. Love is vulnerable. Love does not keep a count on how many times we serve or how many times we have been taken as fools.
God also cares for each of us in the uniqueness of our personal situations. In love God gives us life, and although he does not force his will on us he longs deeply that we would respond to him in love also.
This year let us love more. Let us take the risk of loving. As a congregation in love let us hope that the needy who approach us are telling us the truth. As a church, let us increase our expressions of kindness, openness and concern to anyone who comes to our doors. Regardless of whether or not they will respond to the love of God, let us see to help more people this year. May they be able to see the love of God in us.
As a congregation in love let us be patient with each other. In love let us forget keeping count of offenses and let us overcome past grievances through forgiveness. As a congregation let us hope for the best and share the burdens when they befall upon us.
As individual members within the body of Christ and in relation to one another, let us take the advice of the Apostle Paul who calls us “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and by speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:1-3, 15).
As individuals, let us love those closest to us at home, and within our extended family. In love let us extend ourselves and expand our circle of friends to include someone we had not known before. Let the love of God in you reach out to others this year.
And let me close with the words of John first letter:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
We love because he first loved us. (1John 4:7, 16b, 19). Amen!