This message was delivered to the New Covenant Christian Church in Chino, Ca on October 16, 2006 with the text: Ephesians 5:1-2, and I Cor 13: 1 by Rev. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr., PhD
Our text comes from one of the Epistles of Apostle Paul. It is addressed to the Church in Ephesus. In this text, he is encouraging the Ephesians to become good followers of Christ who are walking in love; but this text was not only relevant and significant to Ephesians; but also significant for modern listeners like us. You know, I like what Paul says that we must:
I. BE IMITATORS OF GOD.
We must imitate God as beloved children not as “small gods.” As beloved children who are willing to follow Him no matter what will be the cost.
But the big question is, how can we imitate God? We do not see Him yet personally? Can we imitate Him by not shaving our beard?
We must really accept the fact that we cannot mimic or imitate God in His totality or in His being-ness. If we can mimic God in His being God, we are gods also; but it cannot be! We can imitate God in the act of loving the humanity – loving our brethren and even our enemies!
As Paul Tillich, a noted theologian, emphasizes that “he who professes devotion to God may abide in God if he abides in love, or he may not abide in love.” (“The Power of Love,” The New Being, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1995, p. 26.)
It is possible that we can imitate God by loving the humankind? Certainly yes! Because our Lord Jesus Christ is the paradigm of our faith. Jesus, in his earthly living, loved and forgave the sinners – the prostitutes, the thieves, the graft and corruptors, and many more! He also cared and loved the poor, the oppressed, the orphaned, the children, and the marginalized. If Jesus could forgive and love the people, why can’t us? If He could do it, we can do it also! Yes, why not imitate God by those acts? Anyway, there’s someone who helps us, who inspires us, who empowers us – He does it because He loves us, yes. . .
II. CHRIST LOVES US.
From the beginning until now, he has been loving us, he gave his life for us – his life was the fragrant offering and sacrifice to God for he forgiveness of our sins. His love to us is infinite, concrete, and gratuitous.
Illustration: Last World War II, there was a French soldier who was seriously injured by shrapnel. The surgeon amputated or cut his arm. Because the soldier was very young, the surgeon waited him until he awaked, because the surgeon wanted to personally inform the young soldier regarding the loss of his arm. When the soldier opened his eyes, the surgeon said, “I am sorry to tell you that you have lost your arm.” “Sir, I did not lose my arm; I gave it – for France.” (Quoted from Speaker’s Sourcebook, Metro Manila: OMF Literature, Inc., 1988, p. 73.)
The same as this story, no one took Jesus’ life; He gave it willingly for the forgiveness of our sins. He made himself as “ransom” for our freedom from sins, because Christ was devotedly loved us, and is religiously loving us. But is it right that we enjoy the love of Christ without reciprocal response to God who is the giver of Christ’s love? Absolutely no! We must reciprocate God’s love by our love also.
III. WALK IN LOVE, in the New International Version, “Live a life of love.”
What does it mean to walk in love? It means we must make love the ruling principle of our life. Not only ruling principle; but a foundation of our faith and our service to God and to humankind. We must be in love when we are dealing with people.
According to Martin Luther, the Father of Protestantism, “Love is an image of God, and not a lifeless image, but the living essence of the divine nature which means full of all goodness.” (New Dictionary of Thoughts, s.v. “Love”, p. 369.)
In our daily Christian living, God must be transparent in us through our dealing with people – in love! We must not only loving; but we ought to share Love with others.
Why do we need love in our contemporary life? If we are keen observers of our life situation, if we are reading newspapers, if we are listening to newscasters, we may know that there are injustices, chaos, and hatred prevailing the world. There is war, there is war between Israelites and Palestinians, and there is a division between North and South Korea, in our country, the Philippines, there are overwhelming cases of graft and corruptions; there are hostilities between New People’s Army and Government Forces, between Moro National Liberation Front, and Government Forces. Most of our countrymen are deprived of abundant living, because of mass poverty.
In our churches, many members are indifferent in the works of church, some members are stingy in sharing their resources in the works of the Lord. Really in this kind of situation, there is something, which is badly needed to empower the people to do something in this “contemporary hell” – and that is love. Church members who profess faith but there is no love, Paul says he is just like “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (I Cor 13:1).
We need a love that is not domesticating but liberating. A love that transforms hatred into love. A love that converts chaos into order. A love that makes justice a real justice, because if justice is not relying on love, that justice is not just. Tillich said “Love makes justice just (“The Golden Rule,” op. cit., p. 32.). In other words, we need a love that can revolutionarily transform the societal hell into an earthly Heaven! Paul says, “Love is the greatest!” (I Cor 13:13).
Brethren, God has already empowered us by such kind of love – that powerful love, so now we can walk in love enthusiastically and fruitfully for the glory of God.
Brethren, truly to walk in love is very delicate and difficult matter – especially in our modern situation, but this is our task as Christians, we must imitate God by loving the humanity; but be firmed, because in our way, there are so many hindrances. In times of trials, remember the Love of God, which empowers us, and when there is love, nothing is impossible:
Nothing is impossible, where there is love.
There is no mountain that cannot cross,
No desert that cannot survive,
No winter that cannot warm.
Where there are shadows of uncertainty,
Love will overcome with sunshine of faith.
Where there are clouds of confusion,
Love will prevail with the rainbows of hope.
Loving and being loved are what life itself is all about.
No matter the time or the place,
Nothing is impossible….
Where there is love. ( Anonymous)
Hear the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi with my minor revision:
Make us channels of your love.
Where there is hatred, let us bring your love.
Where there is injury, you pardon, Lord.
And where there is doubt, true faith in you.
Make us channels of your love.
Where there is despair of life, let us bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light.
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.
Oh, God, grant that we may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love with all our souls.
Make us channels of your love.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
In giving to all men, we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life. Amen.
Let me tell you one story of love:
Daniel: Jasmine, I don’t know what to do.
Jasmine: I know! We’ll play a game.
Daniel: What game?
Jasmine: I’ll be your girl friend for 30 days and you will be my boy friend.
Daniel: That’s a great plan in fact I don’t have anything to do for the following weeks…
They watch their first movie and they both touched in a romantic film.
They went to the beach and have a picnic…Daniel and Jasmine have their quality time together.
Daniel invited Jasmine to a circus and they ride on a Horror House….Jasmine was scared and she touched Daniel’s hand, but she touched someone else’s hand and they both laughed…
They saw a fortuneteller down the road and they asked for their future advice and the fortuneteller said: “My darling, Please don’t waste the time of your life… spend the rest of your time
together happily” Then tears flow out from the teller’s eyes.
Jasmine invited Daniel to go to the hill and they saw a meteor…Jasmine mumbled something
They sat on the bus and because of a bumpy road Jasmine gave her first kiss to Daniel by accident.
Jasmine and Daniel sat in the park where they first decided to play this game…
Daniel: I’m tired Jasmine…Do you want any drinks? I’ll buy you one.. I’ll just go down the road.
Jasmine: Apple Juice that’s all.
Daniel: Wait for me….
20mins later… a stranger approached Jasmine.
Stranger: Are you a friend of Daniel?
Jasmine: Why yes? What happened?
Stranger: A reckless drunken driver ran over Daniel and he is critical in the hospital.
The doctor went out of the emergency room and he handed out an apple juice and a letter.
Doctor: We found this in Daniel’s pocket.
Jasmine reads the letter and it says:
Jasmine, This past few days, I realized you are a really cute girl and I am really falling for you… Your cherish smile, your everything when we played this game….. Before this game would end…I would like you to be my girl friend for the rest of my life…. I love you Jasmine….
Jasmine crumples the paper and shouted:
“Daniel ! I don’t want you to die… I love you…Remember that night when we saw a meteor, I mumbled something… I mumbled that I wish we would be together forever and never end this game. Please don’t leave me Daniel…. I love you! You cannot do this to me!”
Then the clock strikes 12, Daniel’s heart stopped pumping.
THEN IT WAS THE 30TH DAY……..
What’s the lesson of this story? Always love your loved ones and show them how you feel before it is too late… Walk in love with them!