True Christian Love
What does it mean to love?
Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at http://www.lightofchristgeorgetown.org.
Our sermon soundbite today comes from the First Book of Homilies, a collection of 12 sermons published in England by Archbishop Cranmer in 1547. Cranmer published the homilies during a time when the level of spiritual ignorance in the church was astounding. Before the reformation, all services were conducted entirely in Latin. And because of this, among other reasons, the clergy lacked the education and experience necessary to write solid and edifying sermons for their congregations. The homilies were written by bishops and scholars in the church to fill this pressing need. They were appointed to be read every Sunday in order to instruct both the clergy and laity in the basic doctrines and practices of the Christian faith, as illuminated by the recent reformation sweeping through the western world. The sermon soundbite today comes from the homily on true Christian love and is read by Mark, a lay leader at Light of Christ.
“True Christian Love.” Of all the things that should be taught to Christians, there is nothing more necessary to be daily spoken of than the issue of love. Included in the topic of love are all the righteous works that are part of it, along with the fact that the decay of love is the ruin of the world, the banishment of virtue, and the cause of all evil. It seems that almost every person creates and lives out his own definition of love, no matter how detestable his life toward God and man, while in his own mind, he persuades himself that he has great love toward others. Therefore, you will hear in this sermon a true and plain description of love, not the kind imagined in man's mind, but the one from the actual words and example of our savior, Jesus Christ. Using this true description of love, every man can examine himself compared to it and see clearly whether or not he is living according to it.
Loving God requires all of our heart, all of our life, and all of our powers and strength. Loving with all our heart means that we set our heart's mind to believe his word, to trust in him, and to esteem him above all other things that we love in heaven or on earth. Loving with all our life means that our highest joy and delight is toward him and his honor, and then our whole life is dedicated to his service, even to the point of death. It means we must be willing to forsake all other things rather than him. As Christ says in Matthew 10:37, "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Loving with all our powers and strength means that we should pursue keeping God's commandments with our hands and feet, with our eyes and ears, with our mouths and tongues, and with all our powers of both body and soul.
This is the first and principal part of love, but not the entirety. Love also includes care for every person, good or evil, friend or foe, to have goodwill toward all, and to treat them well both in word and in our outward acts and deeds. Christ not only taught this himself, but he also lived this out as an example for us. Regarding the love of God, Christ instructed a doctor of the law who asked him which was the chief commandment in the law? In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
Christ also taught concerning the love we should have among ourselves in Matthew chapter 5 in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, "You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven, for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" These are the very words of Christ himself regarding loving our neighbor.
The Pharisees, with their poisonous traditions and false interpretations, had corrupted and nearly stopped up the pure well of God's living word, teaching instead that love only pertained to a person's friends and that it was sufficient for a person to love those who loved him and to hate his enemies. However, Christ opened up this well again, clearing and scouring it by giving a clear interpretation of his law of love, that we should love every person, both friend and enemy. And by reminding us of the reward we will receive if we do so, and the loss we will suffer if we do not. What greater thing could we wish for them to be considered as and taken as our eternal heavenly father's children?
Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer for Preparation for Personal Prayer can be found on page 675.
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.