LESSON 5: LET WORSHIP BEGIN HERE AND NOW!
MAIN IDEA: God wants us to allow His love to flow through us.
Throughout this class we have examined a biblical picture of the great love that God has for us — love that is unmerited and requires us to love one another. The very act of loving one another is an expression of worship, and in this lesson we will closely examine what love is and what we can expect love to do.
The Greatest Expression of God’s Love
As we have seen, our worship begins with love — God’s love for us and our love for God. He alone is worthy. He is the one who took the initiative. He created us for worship and loved us enough to make a way for us to enter His presence. God loved the world so much that He sent His only son, Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the greatest expression of God’s love for us. He paid the price for all our shortcomings and made a way for us to experience the presence of God. He has become the living sacrifice that defines true love.
Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Once we receive a clear revelation of God’s love through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, worship becomes our expression of love for God in return.
Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The only way to fulfill that command is to allow the love of God to flow through us to others. Jesus is the One who laid down His very life for us — and those around us. And He has chosen to dwell in us and express His great love for mankind through us.
What words can you think of that describe God’s love for you? When you think about loving others, are there any reasons you might want to hold back? Do any of these apply?
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:36-40
What Love Is and What Love Isn’t
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV
If you have been in church very long (or have been to many weddings), you have undoubtedly read this wonderful passage about love. The description is clear, and the attributes of love are so admirable. Of course, love is like faith — we can believe in love, have love, be loved, and understand love; but without corresponding action, our love is mostly dead.
One of my favorite movies is “The Princess Bride.” In this wonderful film, a privileged young lady named Buttercup encounters Westley (aka Farmboy) in the stable. The chemistry between the two is immediate, and ultimately she discovers that Westley is her “one, true love.” As the evil Prince, who wants Buttercup for his bride, attempts to kill Westley, the story unfolds.
At one point, the Prince captures and tortures Westley; and frankly, he looks pretty dead to me. His compatriot, a giant named Fezzik, drags Westley’s body to Miracle Max (played by Billy Crystal) for a miracle — of course! Fezzik places Westley’s body very carefully on the table. Then Miracle Max picks up Westley’s limp arm and drops it with a loud and immediate thud.
Max shouts, “He’s dead! Why are you bothering me!” But when pressed to look again, with the promise of money for his efforts, the miracle man declares, “He’s not completely dead; he’s just mostly dead.”
Sometimes that phrase describes the love we express as the body of Christ. Often after being pursued by God, we figure it out and accept Jesus, our one true love. But the love that flows from us to others is, well, mostly dead. And that is understandable. After all, people can be pretty mean sometimes, and many of us seem to have issues from childhood, and … shall I go on? In our hearts, we want to show the love of Christ to everyone, but we have limitations that seem to bind us against our will.
Love never ends. … Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8,13
What Love Does
The Bible gives us the answer to this dilemma, which results in genuine true love — love for one another. And that kind of love never fails. What is the answer? Take a look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
The answer to bringing our “mostly dead” love back to life is found in an ever-increasing revelation of our “completely alive” Savior and His great love for us! We have been given so much — so much evidence of Love. Once we really do understand who He is and what He has done, it is possible to pour out long-suffering love; envy-free love; kind love; bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring love on everyone around us.
Ultimately, Westley comes back to life and rescues Buttercup from the Prince in the nick of time; and they live happily ever after. Ultimately, we will understand that this is exactly what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Our one true love came and found us. He rescued us from a life of doom, and He never, ever gives up. True love is this: that a man lay down his life for another.
As we allow God’s love for us to flow through us without hesitation and limitation, we are responding to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done. Love Himself compels us to worship. Let us put our response of love into action toward God and one another.
Points to Ponder
• The full and perfect expression of God’s great love for us is His Son, Jesus Christ.
• God’s love elicits a response of love from us — worship!
• God’s love for us empowers us to love one another.
• God calls us to love others by sharing His Word.
• God wants us to allow His love to flow through us.
LESSON 5 REVIEW
• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?
Resources used for this class:
• “Run to the Cross,” words and music by Mike Harland. © 1999 Centergetic Music (ASCAP) (Admin. by Words and Music Copyright Administration). All rights reserved. Used by permission.