Love Looks Like Something / Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Sunday, February 3, 2019
Rev. Donald P. Beaumont

1 Corinthians 12:31b- 13:13

For now, we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am been fully known

Who hasn’t been touched by the beautiful ’love chapter’? These words to the Corinthians are almost poetic in nature, and yet so authentic that they touch the soul. In these words, God gives us a beautiful description of what ‘love’ looks like:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away…So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." In these words, God tells us that ‘love looks like something.’ Love is not just a feeling or a romantic notion of some sort. It looks like something.

We are here because we believe in the Biblical message of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection, right? We believe and accept the truths of Scripture as uncompromisingly accurate, right? We believe that the promises of faith and forgiveness as well as the judgments that the Bible contains are without a doubt; real, right?

I ask these questions because sometimes what we say that we believe and how we apply it to our lives leaves the casual observer a bit confused. Love looks like something and I’d like for us to think of how, the love God gave us, needs to look like, in order for others to also believe.

A college student prepared a demonstration, which he called “The Law of the Pendulum.” He spent 20 minutes carefully showing the physical principles that govern a swinging pendulum. The physics behind a swinging pendulum are easy to see. A pendulum, when released, can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was let go. Why? Because friction and gravity cause the pendulum to lose energy, and so on each subsequent return, it will fall shorter and shorter of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally comes to rest. He demonstrated this principle by making a 3-foot pendulum and attaching it to the top of the chalkboard. He pulled it to one side and made a mark on the chalkboard at the point where he let it go. Each time the pendulum swung back, he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the pendulum come to rest. By looking at the descending marks on the chalkboard, it could easily be seen how the law of the pendulum worked.

When he finished the demonstration, he asked the people in the class whether they believed whether the law of the pendulum was true. Everybody seemed rightly convinced. All of the people in the class, including the instructor raised their hands.

But the lesson was only starting. Unbeknownst to them, he had beforehand hung from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room a large, crude, but fully functional pendulum. He had attached 250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord. He invited the teacher to climb to the top of a table and sit on a chair with his head against a cement wall. The student pulled the weights to the teacher’s nose and asked the professor, “Do you believe the law of the pendulum?” The professor managed a meek, “Yes.” With that, Davis released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. As it began its return, the teacher dove off the table! The student then turned to the class, “Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?” In unison, the students responded, “No.”

Saying that we believe something and actually living like we believe it, are two different things, aren’t they? Love lived out, looks different than simply clinging to a theoretical notion of love.

In our Gospel Lesson today we see Jesus living the way He believes. The Gospel Lesson tells us that the people that heard Jesus were really upset with Him. I mean they were fired up! They were so angry that they rose up and forced Him to the cliff at the edge of town with the full intent of throwing Jesus to His death.

Do you suppose that Jesus knew that this would happen? Sure, in fact, the lesson tells us that Jesus told the people that a prophet is never accepted in his home town. And in spite of that fact, even though Jesus knew that they would become angry and would try to hurt Him, He told them of the salvation God. He told them that God’s Messiah was standing before them, that He, Jesus Christ was the Savior of the World.

Why did Jesus take that risk? Why did He tell them even though He knew that they would be angered? Because that’s what love looks like! Consider the alternative: Without the forgiveness God offers in Christ, the people in Nazareth would perish; People today would perish; Without Christ, our neighbors, co-workers, even family members would perish. And so, because He loved, Jesus spoke about God’s truth.

Love looks like something. Jesus came and revealed Himself as the Messiah, love looks like something. Love in action sacrifices self for others, if we look at the Cross, where the Son of God hung, bleeding and dying, then, love looks like something. Love forgives and doesn’t hold grudges. We can hear love as it cries out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” because love looks like something.

See love endure and suffer all things as the Father turns away, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” Yes, love looks like something. See love sacrifice all; see Him die, for you, for me, because love looks like something. And, look the grave is empty, Jesus rose, because the power of love looks like something. By simply believing in what Jesus did for us on the Cross and in His Resurrection, God forgives us and makes us His children. Do you believe this?

I want to ask you, then, what does the love God placed in your heart look like? What would you risk as a result? Would you risk sharing the good news of Christ’s forgiveness with your family, friends and co-workers? I'm telling you that by doing so, the Lord is warning us that we risk being rejected, but not for who we are, but because of Christ who lives in us. So, when the pendulum starts it’s backswing in your direction, will you still allow love to ’look like something’?

Scripture says that the love with which God fills us compels us to go and make disciples of all nations. Through angels, God told the first followers to tell others of Jesus’ saving love. If we listen to Acts 1:8, which says; you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses… Go tell the whole world, tell them about Jesus’ love. Maybe if I say it in a Spanish word, since our schools are teaching Spanish: “Hey! What are you doing standing around? Vámonos! Go tell the folks in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, in Willowick, Ohio, and the whole nation.

Love looks like something, it looks like Jesus. And as the Lord works through His people, love looks like them! What does love look like? It looks like YOU, telling others about Jesus’ love for them. Amen.

Bethel Lutheran Church

32410 Willowick Drive
Willowick, OH 44095

P: (440) 943-5000

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