THE CONDITIONS WE PLACE UPON OUR "UNCONDITIONAL" LOVE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
2 JULY 1995
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 8:13
The greatest commandment in the Bible comes from Deuteronomy 6:5:
5. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Now, if we truly love God, we will love all of His creation without exception, for to do otherwise would limit our love, and violate this commandment.
The second greatest commandment also applies to this understanding of unconditional love.
Note what we are told in Leviticus 19:18:
18. 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
Now, hiding in the shadows is a devious fellow who doesn't really want to love anyone or anything beyond that which he chooses to.
So he says, "This verse only applies to sons of my own people, therefore I don't have to follow it with anyone else."
Some people always look for excuses, and that is why we must always interpret Scripture in context with the entire Bible.
Jesus put this into the proper context when he said (Matthew 5:43-48),
43. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
44. "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
45. in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46. "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
47. "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48. "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
More than likely, Jesus is referring to the application of a Hebrew passage such as Proverbs 25:21-22:
21. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22. For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.
And again, we must remember that we are not talking about bringing down the fire of hell upon them, but rather the inner fires of conviction of the errors of their ways, that they would repent and change their ways.
So, with these thoughts in mind, let's look at a few examples.
On the abortion issue, many right-to-life people are militant in their actions to stop this practice.
And some of these people even rejoice when an abortionist is killed or a clinic is destroyed.
So much for unconditional love!
I have heard a few animal rights advocates rejoice when a hunter is killed, or a slaughterhouse is closed.
Again, selective love.
The problem is not that both groups want to stop the carnage and are equally hurt and depressed by what is going on around them, but that some of them rejoice at the demise of their enemies.
And if we continue to look at these two groups again, some animal activists condone abortion as a woman's right, and most right-to-life people eat meat.
Each hurts the other because they only feel for their own special interest.
Human babies are aborted and thrown away as just so much unwanted trash.
In the factory egg brooder business, there is no use for male chicks or those that are slow to hatch. They are just thrown into a dumpster to suffocate and to be plowed into the ground as fertilizer, or ground up and fed to their mothers.
The right-to-lifers mourn the 12 million babies that are "slaughtered" each year, and the animal rights advocates mourn the 10 billion animals that are slaughtered each year in the United States, and 50 billion worldwide.
Now, believe it or not, both groups have come up with the same solution to this problem.
The animal advocates say that if people become vegetarians, then there will be no animals killed or used for food.
The right-to-life people say that if we only have sexual relations in a marriage relationship and take responsibility for the children we bear, then there would be no need for abortions.
In essence, both groups are talking about abstinence as a solution to what they each see as murder.
We cannot effectively legislate against inflicted death. The only way to stop it is to love it out of existence.
If we really thought about the pain we cause each other, and we really and truly loved each other, we would change our ways.
The Christians would apply the words of Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:13) to their lives today, and not cause the animal activists to stumble over Christianity because of what they see as hardness of heart in the Christians.
13. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.
And likewise, the animal activists, most of whom see all of us humans as animals, too, would thus work to preserve human life whether unborn or born.
We could carry this discussion on to many other parallel areas, but there is enough to work on here, at least for a start.
If we could fulfill just this one area of unconditional love, we would be a long way towards fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 11:6-9), which was written some 2,700 years ago:
6. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7. Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
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