Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, January 29, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can find a podcast of this sermon on the Cove Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Well, here we are again, and I hope y’all are ready to spend a little time talking about how we might grow spiritually, you know, how we might understand God a little better than we do right now and how our relationship with him might become a little stronger than it is right here. And since there’s no football on today and we don’t have anything going on after the service, you know like a congregational meeting or a dinner, we can spend as much time as we need to do it, right? Just kidding; I wouldn’t do that to y’all.
Anyway, in case you don’t know it, we’re in the middle of a sermon series we started a couple of weeks ago, and like I just said, it’s all focused on spiritual growth. Now, as you remember, during the first sermon, we talked about how recognizing our limits is really the first step, because when we do that, when we accept that we’re human, that leads to realistic expectations and a focused approach to growth and a faith that’s patient. Now that was the first week. And last week, we looked at the importance of trusting the Lord, you know, that faith is actually trust and how it starts with a decision and that when we decide to trust, we’re suddenly free to explore all kinds of possible ways we might grow. And so that’s where we’ve been.
Now, I recognize that for most of us this seems pretty straight forward. I mean, outside of a few believers like a friend of mine who told me that the biggest problem in modern Christianity is that there’s too much talk of love, outside of guys like him, I think most of us believe that we’re suppose to love one another, especially since that’s what John said right here and Paul wrote to the Romans and Jesus told his disciples. “We should love one another.” To me, that seems pretty clear.
But I’ll tell you, what throws a little mud in the water is the fact that the Greeks had two different words which are translated “love” in the English New Testament. You see, the word φίλος can mean love. In fact, that’s the way it’s used in the word philosophy; that literally means “the love of knowledge” and in the name Philadelphia, the city of “brotherly love.” You see, when the Greeks used the word φίλος, they were talking about a feeling, an emotional kind of love. Put another way, using this word, you really need to like what you love.
And I’ll tell you, that’s going to happen as we decide to love one another. But remember, with this loving business, neither John nor Jesus was telling us that we have like everybody. And that’s a good thing, because that’s something that I don’t think any of us can do. But we can be loving, we can be kind and patient, we can be open and understanding to everyone. That we can do. And if we do, I believe we’ll be looking away from the values of the world and moving closer to Jesus Christ and changing how we live in relationship to him and others, all of which, I believe, will enable us to grow spiritually into the men and women we were created to be.