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About this series
Real Love in Real Life
How to Find it, Grow it, and Keep it... Forever!
Real Love in Real Life is a rubber-meets-the-road, 5-part series that covers key issues we all struggle with in every relationship. Whether in marriage, friendship, family, dating, or work, this series will help you discover root causes of failures and dysfunction in relationships. Chip shares how to get beyond insecurities - to be bold in sharing hearts rather than just exchanging words. And he has this crazy idea that God is actually interested in your love life - that there's a secret to real romance and God's interested in revealing it to you. This series will deepen every relationship and help you genuinely give love and receive it in return.More from this series
Now, here’s the question, right? How do you know God really loves you? We have got the Sunday school answer, right? I know God loves me because Jesus died for my sins. Right? You got that one?
And how many of you, when you hear that, just be honest, you can be honest in the privacy of your own mind, God loves me. He died for my sins. How many of you emotionally go, Wow! I really get that! My experience is we intellectually have that but we don’t viscerally or emotionally get what really happened and what God actually did. It’s sort of like a thought, it’s sort of like a phrase instead of a reality.
So what I want you to do, I want you to turn to Romans chapter 5 and I want to give you a very specific, clear picture of God’s love. And then I want to explain what that is and how it looks.
We’ll begin at verse 6. In the mind of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and when He sets His gaze and affection on you, personally, and the Bible says He loves you, I want you to get a picture of not just theologically what happened, not just relationally what happened, but also emotionally what actually happened and what has actually occurred to every single person, whether you receive it or not. But this is His love.
Verse 6, you see, “At just the right time, when we were still powerless,” picture yourself at the end of your rope, you have got nothing to bring, “Christ died for the ungodly.” The word for here literally means in the place of.
“For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, someone might possibly dare to die.” How do I know God loves me? “But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Not when we got good, not when our morality cleaned up, not when our behavior changed, not when we tried harder, not when we were more moral. While we were yet sinners, or still sinners, Christ died in our place.
“Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him? For if while we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. How much more, having been reconciled shall we be saved through His life?”
Now, before I go on, my experience with us, unless you have done some theological thinking or training is you would go from this passage and you might even be in a course and they would take you to Romans chapter 3. And then it would use a lot of big words about: You are justified and as a result of being justified, how did that happen?
It was redemption and redemption then leads to propitiation where the just wrath of God was placed on Christ. And then this begins this process where you have a new standing with God. And justification and propitiation and redemption and a lot of really big words that are really, really important that the average Christian, probably seventy years ago, knew like that and understood what they meant.
And so I want to do my best to tell you how Jesus’ death reveals God’s love. This is how Jesus’ death reveals God’s love. And this is without any of the big words but all the big words are there. And, by the way, can we just personalize this? This is you. Not the person next to you, not the person behind you, the person in your seat. When Jesus died, He paid for your sin.
See, there was a coup and there was a rebellion. And we sang a song earlier about: He is my King. Well, He was the King of all the universe and there was a huge rebellion and at the heart of rebellion in my heart and your heart and everyone’s heart is: I want to be king. I want to call the shots. I will live independently of God. I know better. I’m going to do my own thing. And down deep, I don’t think God has my best in mind.
And in the midst of us being in rebellion against God, when Jesus died, number one, He paid for, you had a debt, an insurmountable debt, that you could never pay. And the reason that Jesus was fully God and fully man is He had to be a human being in order to die and He had to be fully God for His death to account for or cover and atone for all the sins of all people of all time.
The second thing that happened is He freed you from slavery. The word for redemption is out of the slave market of sin.
And Paul takes that imagery and he says, “You were a slave of sin. You were a slave to your passions and to your selfishness and to your addictions and to your manipulation. You are a slave to your ‘me-ism.’” And what He did is He not only paid for your sin but He took the chains off and He freed you once and for all. He bought you out of it. And the purchase price for you, you want to know how much you’re loved? The purchase price for your life was the death or the blood of Jesus. That’s what we actually read.
The third thing that happens is Jesus absorbed the just anger of God. That’s a part of theology that people don’t talk a lot about. I want you to imagine the most horrendous act that anyone could do against you or maybe one of your children or a close friend. And I want you to imagine just the anger if someone killed one of your children or willfully ran over your mate or your best friend with a car. With no sense of remorse. The anger that you would have because life was snuffed out.
What sin has done is destroyed relationships. Sin introduced death. God, are you ready for this? He is mad at sin. Colossians 3, he says, “Consider your earthly members as dead to immorality and impurity and evil desire and passion and greed, which literally is idolatry, because these are the things that the wrath of God is upon the sons of men. And in these you once walked.”
So God is a just God. And so He is very angry when kids get abused. He is very angry when I am selfish. And so the only way for God to appease His anger is when Jesus was hanging on the cross. The reason He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Because your sin and the anger of God, the propitiation, we read it earlier, it was placed on Jesus.
So He paid for your sin, He freed you from slavery, He absorbed the just anger of God. Guess what? God is not mad at you. God is not down on you. He is never down on you.
Our job is not to go into all the world and convince people and tell them how bad they are, put their arm behind their back, straighten up your life. Ours is a message of the gospel. It’s good news! Guess what? You’re forgiven! Guess what? You’re already loved! Your sins are paid for, you’ve been freed, the just anger of God is absorbed and then Jesus transferred His righteousness to us.
It’s the second half of justification. So when you receive Christ as your Savior, literally, there is the Jesus the column and the “you” column. And all the sins on your column are deleted. And all of His righteousness is drag, paste. And this isn’t theory. This is the love of God.
The God that you worship, if you could grasp it, looks upon you through the lens of the blood of Christ as a righteous son or a daughter. You’re the object of His affection. He wants to love you, direct you, bless you, help you, fill you, meet the deepest needs and the greatest delights of your heart.
And then, finally, you are friends. That’s what the word reconciliation means. Real friends! I’ll never let you down. I’ll never leave you. I’ll never forsake you. The Scripture says there’s a friend that sticks closer than to a brother.
And all this stuff we talk about here like BIO – come before God. “I” – do life “in” community. “O” – be on mission. You know what it is? We are trying to help people like, Would you like to know how to become a good friend with someone? Hang out with them. Right? Just hang out with them.
Would you like to feel the love of God and get a hug from God? Well, He lives inside fellow Christians and He might send an angel someday to hug you but probably not. Or very rare. But He doesn’t need to. The very life of Christ lives in each one of His followers. And when I hug you or you hug me, when you meet a need for me or I meet a need for you, when you love one another, it’s the living Christ in His body in community. And when we are on mission, we are just passing on this agape love.
And so you love, who are we to love? Love our neighbor as ourselves. Husbands, love your wives. Love your enemies. Forgive the person who betrayed you. Forgive the ex who did what they did. Forgive the boss who ripped you off.
You say, Well, I can’t do that. Of course you can’t. And so here’s the design I want you to get. I want you to see God’s design and I want you to think of agape love, storge love, phileo love, and then eros love. I want you to think of a reservoir, okay? And I want you to get this picture that at the bottom level, if you don’t experience the agape love of God, if the water doesn’t come up here, you will not be a good parent. You will not have a good marriage. You will not have a fond affection.
And so agape love is number one. And then when you are filled up with agape love, this choosing. By the way, it’s a choice. It’s hard. You don’t feel like it. But as you choose, God gives grace.
And so after the agape love then the goal and the design was you would experience in your family. We are good at this when they are babies, right? They cry, we don’t go, “Shut up! What’s wrong with you? I told you three times! If you don’t get into a good school I’m not going to love you.” They’re a baby, right? God’s goal is that the agape love, we would train early on that our children would grow up in a world where they would feel like: You are valued and loved for who you are and not for what you can do. You are deeply loved just for you.
And then what happens is, the next one is phileo love. In every culture, girls have cooties. Because God wants us to develop same-sex relationships that are deep and strong.
I have been married thirty-eight years. I’ve got a great marriage, I’ve got a great wife. I will guarantee there are things about my life my wife does not understand, will not understand, and can never grasp for one simple reason: she’s a woman.
And there’s a reason why, in the developmental process, God gives us this love and then He says, I need a mom and I need a dad in every ideal situation. And I want you to nurture and care and strengthen and sometimes it’s soft love and sometimes it’s tough love. But I want them to be to you like I am so that they can experience that. And then as you go off on your own, I want you to have a relationship with someone who understands, as a man, what it’s like to be afraid, what it’s like to be insecure.
Or as a woman – what’s it like when you’re a young girl and you are developing and what’s it mean to be feminine? And so God wants us, early on, to have these really strong, same-sex relationships that are completely non-sexual so you are understood and loved.
In fact, I will talk more about this later but the reason a lot of marriages are in trouble is because you are asking your mate to deliver a whole bunch of stuff they are not equipped to. Your mate can deliver some things, but only another woman is going to help you grow in certain areas, if you’re a woman. And only another man can help you.
And it takes time and energy and every, single person needs to have at least two or three, or at least one relationship of someone of the same sex that it’s no holds barred. They are never shocked, they love you, they are there for you, they’ve got your back, you can be completely vulnerable.
Because the only alternative is to fake it or to hide it and it’s in hidden struggles where the enemy begins to blow up our life.
And then finally, when we have this design of God’s love and we have this family relationship and we have friends like that then as we mature, He wants us, apart from those who are called to singleness, to actually have a sexual relationship that is not about us.
So many people in marriages, the whole thing is, if you talk to people who are experts in the whole, by the way, every couple has sexual struggles. Okay? If you haven’t had any, bless your heart. You will. Because usually it has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with communication, unresolved anger, stress, problems, fatigue, overwork, misplaced priorities, money problems.
And when all those things start happening there’s a little line on the dashboard of your marriage and the sex one goes, Eeerrrrrrmmmrmrmrr.
And so God actually longs for a couple to be experiencing agape, storge, phileo love so that their sex life is not about techniques and level of experience but a desire to be others-centered and please and care for and love my marriage partner. And it’s amazing how that changes things.
Now, unfortunately, as you look at God’s design, there’s sin in the world and so if you’ll go down to agape love, you’ll notice I put a negative: 1 John 4:19. And in 1 John 4:19 it says, “God is love.”
And then it says something very interesting. It says, “But if I say I love God and hate my brother, the love of God is not in me; I am a liar.” And so what I want you to know is I have tried to give you the: this is real love – agape, storge, phileo, eros. But because of the human heart and sin, there’s also a counterfeit.
See, if you look on the left side, pseudo-love is about getting. And you might write the word: me. Just write the word me above that. And under real love, write the word: others.
And then underneath that, pseudo-love has two real things: insecurity; control. Every pseudo-love relationship is insecurity. I don’t measure up. Something is missing. I need, I need, I need, I need. So I’ve got to get, get, get. So I try to control.
Notice how it goes. In the sexual love, I love you as long as you satisfy my lust. And then you know what? If this isn’t working, I go to the next person. Or if you gain a little bit too much weight, I go to the next person.
Or if I’m not satisfied, I’ll just log on online. Or I’ll have an affair. Or I’ll fill my life with romance novels. Or I’ll watch a bunch of movies so I vicariously am living my mind in my…because it’s about me. It’s about satisfying my lust. That’s me-centered.
Phileo love, when it’s about you, insecurity and then control is: I will love you so that I won’t be alone. It’s not a love that: How do I help you? I love you so I won’t be alone. Have you ever had one of these? Someone is really friendly and they are a really good friend until their life starts working out. And they just move on.
Anybody had a friendship where you feel used? Okay? Me. I have. There are few things that tick me off more. Because you think it’s real, you think the people are really for you. And then there’s pressure, there’s difficulty, or you get into a crisis and you look up and, so, where did your friends go? Guess what? They aren’t friends.
Notice in storge love – and with the best of intentions – I love you because you enhance my worth. It’s very subtle. I don’t love you for you. I love you if you’re on the traveling team, I love you if you get As, I love you if you go public, I love you if you’re good looking and stay good looking. I love you as long as you enhance my worth. You’re a valuable part of this family.
And sometimes it’s verbal and sometimes it’s non-verbal. And sometimes we reframe the whole thing. I really love my children so they have to be successful so I really push them so I really do this and I really do that.
At the end of the day, you need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself: Is this really about them? Or is this really about you? Some of you are living such ridiculous schedules. You don’t eat together, you don’t talk, you don’t go to bed at a decent hour, your life is pulled from here or there. And you think providing all these opportunities for your kids…
I’ll tell you what your kids need is you. And three or four nights sitting around a table eating a meal that someone in the house actually cooked. And talking about how life is going and having the TV off for three or four nights a week and playing a board game and tickling one another. And you would be shocked at the real love. We are chasing phantoms. Our children or our mates are not to enhance our worth. They are our opportunity to do what? Love them just for who they are.
In agape love it has even creeped into the church. We’ve got a whole generation of people. I love You, God, if You bless me. If I am wealthy. If I am healthy. If You make my life work out.
Or the flip side, a perverted side of love and other religions is: this God will love you if you pray five times a day. This God will love you if you do this, this, this, and this. This will God will love you only if you go on…
And there is an endless round of works, works, works, works, works. You don’t give to get. Agape love is a choice of giving other people, no matter what, what they really need when they least deserve it at great personal cost.
And what I want you to know is that if you have never experienced the agape, supernatural love of God, ask Christ to come into your life and to forgive you, and He will. And if you’re not experiencing His power, then start getting to know Him as a friend and I will tell you, He just wants to help you.
This is a summary of what we learned. One, we are already deeply and completely loved. And I have given you a passage to each one. I encourage you to check that out on your own, already.
Number two, we must receive His love by faith before we have the power to love Him, each other, our families, our neighbors, and our enemies. So just ask yourself, Have I received Him by faith?
Three, pseudo-love promises life but destroys us and our relationships. If the reservoir fills up this way with God, it goes the other way here, right? It’s all about sex, then maybe you become friends, then maybe you become a family or cohabitate for a while until it works. And then pretty soon, if it doesn’t work, then you serially move on to the next person and the kids are here and the kids are here and the alimony is there and the money is there and the pain is there and it brings death.
Four, God has a specific design and process for us to experience real love and a real life. It’s a very clear design from the bottom up.
And number five, love never fails. It covers our past, our faults, our mistakes, our sins. It redeems, restores, forgives, and births new life and new relationships.
I love that picture of agape love being learned in a family and then a family passing it on so we can be those kind of friends and then we meet the right person at the right time and we have all those and we express it physically and the very thing that we then experience, sexuality certainly bring pleasure, but it brings life. New life.
God’s love birthed life. His plan - as we experience His love - is to come together and we birth new life. And then we share that life with all the world.