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Each one of us is different. We all have different likes and dislikes. We all have different hopes and desires. But there is one thing we all need; there is one thing we all long for – and that is love.

Our culture, and most cultures around the world, is filled with the concept, or the idea, of love. We talk about it. We sing songs about it. Probably three-quarters or more of the books which are written have some sort of love interest in them.

But what is love? Love is one of those things which is very hard to define, but is easy to describe. Unfortunately, our culture has often confused love with sex and lust. But they are very different things. It is entirely possible to have sex without love and to love with no hint of sexual activity. People often use the word ‘love’ as a mask for their own greed and carnal desires.

Some would say that love is a strong attraction. But that misses the mark too. It is perfectly possible to love someone who is utterly repulsive.

So what is love? In 1st Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul writes, “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)

But there is another quality of love which Paul does not mention in that passage. One of greatest characteristics of love is that it gives. This is especially true of God’s love for us. I want to read you several passages of Scripture which emphasize this:

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave…”

Romans 5:5 – “…God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Galatians 2:20 – “…The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Ephesians 5:2 – “and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”

Ephesians 5:25 – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

2 Thessalonians 2:16 – “…God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope…”

God didn’t give to us because we are such wonderful people. He gave because of His love. We were unlovely, but God loved us anyway. We were unworthy, but God loved us anyway. We were His enemies, but God loved us anyway.

God didn’t just give us things. God showed His love for us by giving us Himself in Christ. Romans 5:6-8 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Each week we gather to remember the extent of God’s love. The bread we eat reminds us of Jesus’ body which He sacrificed for us. The juice reminds us of Jesus’ blood which cleanses us from sin.

How much does God love you? He loves you so much that He died for you. When you take the emblems, this morning, remember that God loves you.

The emblems remind us of something else, too. We need to love, just as God has loved us. The Apostle John writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

As we partake let’s not only remember that God loves us, let’s also ask how much we love other people. How much are we willing to sacrifice for them?

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