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Supernatural Love, Part 1

From the series Jesus Loves Me

Chip has said, "Love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost." Sadly that kind of commitment and sacrifice is hard to come by in relationships. In this program, guest teacher John Dickerson picks up his series, Jesus Loves Me – by explaining why God's personal, perfect love always delivers what we are looking for and meets our deepest desires.

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Message Transcript

You know, how can you really know if someone loves you?

These people that you are building relationships with and investing in, how can you really know if someone loves you? I mean, beyond passing them a note and they check a box. But in real life, doesn’t it get a little more complicated?

And so, how can you really know? In a world where maybe your parents have gone through a divorce and there’s a custody battle and it’s like both of them will say anything to tell you that they love you, but you start to realize, like, it’s really about controlling, about having me as a pawn in their little fight with each other.

Or you have an employee or advertisers, right? It’s like they will tell you anything you want to hear because they actually just want to get something from you. And the longer you live life, the more you start to realize, like, okay, it’s not as simple as someone checking a box. Like, how do I actually know if someone actually loves me?

So, I have been married for about nine years to my wife; Mel is her name. And Mel and I were talking this last week about this question. And we were kind of thinking, like, you know, in real life, how do you actually know if someone actually loves you?

And here’s the conclusion that we came to as we thought through a lot of our different life experiences. We concluded that love proves itself in actions. Would you agree, at least to some extent, love proves itself in actions?

We have all seen this in our lives and, in fact, it kind of came up as I was asking Mel, you know, in our nine years of marriage, “What are the times, what are the things I have done or said that really, to you, communicate love?”

And I was really surprised by some of her answers, because some of them were things that I would never have thought of. And one of them was this. She said, “John, when I have the flu, when I have the flu and I’m throwing up…” And I’m sorry if this is disgusting to you guys, okay? This was her answer: “…when you come and you put your hand in my hair and you rub my back, that to me, that’s a moment where I know that you love me.”

And here’s the thing I realized, like, this is why that communicates love to her, because there are not really many other people in the world that I would do that for. What is it about that? It’s self-sacrifice, right? It’s willing to get your own hands dirty or be uncomfortable, because you love another person more than you love your own comfort. And it’s real love that shows up in the dirty and in the yucky and in just the real life stuff.

And I wonder, do you think that God loves you like that? Maybe because I stand up here and sometimes they put the word “pastor” in front of my name you might think that I never doubt if God loves me. But I have lots of days that I do, especially when I have made a mistake.

You know, if I have just done something stupid or specifically if I know, like, something was wrong. I knew something was wrong, I knew not to do it, and I did it anyways. Afterwards it’s like, Man, I know on paper God loves me, but is He going to give up on me at some point? Is He going to get tired of putting up with me?

You know, another time that I doubt if God really loves me is when I’m experiencing pain. And this happened, actually, this last week. I have this really rare medical condition called a hemiplegic episode. And thankfully I don’t get them very often. In fact, I hadn’t had one in a year. But I had one this last week and thankfully it was not a very bad one, but when I get them, I get the symptoms of a stroke. I lose my ability to speak and half my body will go kind of paralyzed and have some pain and other things.

And as I was having this one this last week, whenever these things start, I have these really candid conversations with God. And within it, I was really stressed out at the time. And I remember telling God, You know, God, I feel like all these different people want different parts of me and I need to be something as a husband, I need to be something as a dad, I need to be something in my workplace, and I need to be something as a writer.

And I remember just telling God, like, I don’t think I can be what all these people want me to be. And in the moment, just as clear as you’re hearing me now, I heard God say to me, “You are who I want you to be. Just relax.”

And what I want to talk about with you today is having a love relationship with God where you know that He is with you in your suffering, you know that He is with you if you get laid off at work, you know that He’s with you in the difficulties of life. I want to talk to you today about a love relationship with God that very much like a marriage, it has a sort of very formal beginning date that it’s like, “That’s the date that me and God committed to each other. But just like a really healthy marriage, it doesn’t end there, it begins there.

And you experience the love of God on a daily basis in all the ups and downs of life. Would you like to know about a relationship with God like that?

Well, we are going to learn about it in the book of Romans chapter 5. This is a book of the Bible and it’s a book that really summarizes for us God’s love for us. And when you first read this verse, you might think, What does this verse even mean? Okay, I’ve read this verse a bunch of times and as a former newspaper reporter and writer, I tend to think, God, this is kind of a wordy verse. But let me read it for you and then I’ll explain what it means, okay? “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” What is God talking about here? Well, God is talking about this idea that we all kind of agreed on to some degree that love proves itself in actions.

Love proves itself in actions. Actions over time. And the more self-sacrificing the action is, the more sincere the love is. What is the biggest self-sacrificing action that you could make for someone you love? Well, Jesus answered that in John 15, verse 13. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that a person would lay down their life for their friends.”

So, very specifically right now, I want to ask you a question: Who in your life would you be willing to die for? It’s probably not a long list, but are there some people in your life that you would be willing to die for? Maybe you’re at a place in your life where you think, No, not really.

But I would guess there are probably some husbands in this room or some boyfriends who, if someone came in and they were going to take the life of your girlfriend or your wife, you would step in the way, you would intervene and you would give your life. And you probably wouldn’t do that for just anyone, but you love her so much that you would willingly lay down your life for her.

I bet in this room, I bet there are some moms who you love your kids so much that if it were a life or death situation, you would step in the way and you would sacrifice your own life because that’s how much you love that child.

The point of this verse is to get us thinking about that. To get us thinking that, Yeah, you know, even a really good person, you’re probably not going to give your life for them unless you really, really love them. And with that in mind, God tells you this about how He feels about you in verse 8, we are told this, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this way.” Is God going to demonstrate His love just, you know, by checking a box, by saying some words? No, He’s going to prove His love with actions.

While we were still sinners, and we’ll explain what this means, but the idea is while we had our backs turned to God, while we were in a posture that’s kind of like, “No thanks, God. Don’t want Your help, don’t need Your help.” While we were turned away from Him, Christ died for us.

Christ died to rescue us. Now, we are in part three of this series called Jesus Loves Me. And we are using the kid’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We are using it as kind of a memory tool that we can carry this with us throughout life. And if you’re on an airplane with a co-worker or if you’re tucking your kids into bed at night, and someone asks you, “Who is Jesus? What’s He about?” you can say the words to this little song. “Well, here’s what it’s all about. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And the meaning is in the words.

And we learned that Jesus is not just a good teacher or a prophet and He’s not one god among many gods. We learned that Jesus is the one true God. And the reason Jesus had to be the one true is God is that He was the Messiah. And, in fact, we learned that this word “Christ”, is not Jesus’ last name. And there was a point in my life where that was new information. I was like, “Whoa! I always thought Christ was Jesus’ last name, right? Jesus Christ.”

But, no. This word “Christ” is actually an ancient word for Messiah. And it’s this ancient word for this prediction that God would come down among humanity to rescue humanity. Who is Jesus? He’s the one true God, the Christ. What do we mean when we say, “The one true God loves me”? What do we mean when we say He loves me? And here’s what we mean, according to the Word of God.

Jesus died to prove He loves you. Jesus died to prove He loves you. He didn’t just say it, He didn’t just check a box, He proved it in actions. In a very well-documented, public execution when He was crucified on a cross, on a real day in history, and He went to that cross willingly so that He could reconnect you to your Creator.

So, if you’re tracking in this series and you’re like, “Okay, I get why Christianity matters, I get that Jesus is the one true God, now I understand what you’re saying. But here’s kind of a normal question. Why is this even necessary? You know? If God is smart and He’s in control and He made everything, like, why did He let things spin so out of control that He would have to self-sacrifice like this to restore us?

And so, to answer that question, I want to give you a, really, a summary of the whole Bible in just a few minutes. And here’s where it starts. It starts with God’s desire.

Here’s God’s desire for you. God desires for you to be in the very presence of God. This is kind of like the idea of God has His arm around you. And this is what you were created to experience and enjoy. Part of being in God’s presence is that there is no death. There’s immortality. Or sometimes we call it eternal life.

Part of being in God’s presence is that there is no scarcity or shortage of: Is there going to be enough food to go around? Part of being in God’s presence is that God is the source of love. And so, this longing that we have, this hunt that we are on our entire lives to be affirmed by our Creator. When we are in His presence, all those tensions are resolved. This is what God created us for.

And God starts His love letter to us, the Bible, by telling us this repeatedly right at the beginning. Here’s one example from the book of Genesis. “When God created mankind, He made them in the likeness of God and blessed them.”

As a human being, you are different from the animal world, you’re different from the rest of creation. You have a soul, a spiritual part of you that will outlive your body and your soul is made in the likeness or in the image of God.

What does that mean? Well, it means that you have a capacity to create and it also means that you have a free will. A free will is this spiritual and moral part of you that you can choose God or you can choose away from God. And the idea of it being free is that it’s yours. No one else can make the choice for you.

And so, when God created all of creation, He makes this sort of crown jewel of creation – “Humanity will be in My image. They will create like I create and they will have spiritual capacity. They will be eternal beings and they will have a free will. They can choose My ways and My presence or if they choose, they can reject My ways and My presence.”

And this is the next step in the story of God and humanity. This is the bad news, that there was a catastrophic divorce. There was a catastrophic divorce between humanity and God, a great chasm, an earthquake in the fabric of the universe when our spiritual ancestors, with their free wills, chose, having known God and His presence to say, “We would like to know what evil is like.”

And God had told them, “In My presence, You won’t know evil. Here’s kind of the door if you want to go through it but if you do, it will bring death. It will bring destruction.” And having created us with a free will, they chose that. And just like when you’re a kid and your parents have a divorce, you don’t get to have a say in whether or not they divorce. And you have been born into a world that is divorced away from God because of the choices of our spiritual ancestors.

And so, what do we experience? Mortality, that we’ll die. We experience that we are broken away from God. And whether we realize it or not, we spend our whole lives hunting, trying to restore that relationship. And we spend our lives unresolved.

Emotionally and spiritually, we are unresolved.

In Romans 3, verse 23, God says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of humanity is on this side, broken away from God and falls short of the glory of God. In other words, this is like a Grand Canyon chasm. You can’t, like, give enough money to a church or go on enough mission trips, you can’t earn your way over here.

So, this is bad news, right? If the story ended here, it would be depressing. You guys ready for some good news? Here’s the good news. When God looked down and saw humanity in this position, He didn’t just leave us there. He decided that He Himself would intervene. And this is why the Christ, the Messiah Jesus, had to be human and God at the same time, because you see, He came to perform God’s rescue.