Love. What is love? A team of professionals posed this question to a group of 4 to 10 year-olds and got back some wonderful answers: "I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." – Manuel, age 8. "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." – Karl, age 5. "Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day." – Noelle, age 7. "Love is foolish...but I still might try it sometime." – Floyd, age 9. "I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." – Lauren, age 4. "I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her." – Bethany, age 4. "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."- Rebecca, age 8. "Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." – Tommy, age 6. "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."- Bobby, age 5. "There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them."- Jenny, age 4. Out of the mouths of babes. God is love. How would you answer the question, what is love? The answer is, God is love. That is at once a simple truth we all know and also a staggering truth we cannot comprehend. It’s one of the most profound and wonderful utterances in all the Bible. Before there was a creation, before there were creatures, before there where human beings, God is love.
This morning on the third Sunday of Advent I bring you good news of a great joy. Joy. What a great word, what a great quality. There is nothing quite like it. How many here would like to have more of it? All of us I bet. Goldie Hawn said she would. She told an interviewer one time, “I have other lofty goals, like seeking out what the meaning of joy is. And travelling the world and speaking to people from scientists, to Zulu tribes people, to aborigines to find out what joy is to them and how we can learn to access it” (http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/23/1032734111652.html). That’s a great goal, but I fear she is on the wrong track. I might be able to save her a bunch of time and money. I would start with Psalm 16:11. This is a verse that goes straight for the jugular. This is one of those cut to the chase verses in the Bible. No beating around the bush. Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. This verse declares some of the most profound truth in all of Scripture with power and beauty and hope. It speaks of things we value most supremely, life, joy and the presence of God.
What do you pay attention to? What do you keep track of or follow with interest on a very regular basis? The stock market, home values, the Seahawks or the Mariners, the Huskies or Cougars, the weather report, the police scanner, the news, a favorite TV show, People Magazine, a certain band, Facebook, Pinterest, horoscope, crossword puzzles? There are so many things people follow or pay attention to. It reveals what or who we are really into, what’s important to us. What do you suppose Jesus spends His time on, what does He pay attention to? It should be obvious from these seven letters in Revelation that Jesus pays attention to His Church, He keeps track of all that is going on in His Church. Jesus knows the intimate details of each local church. He knows what’s going on spiritual, doctrinally, what they are teaching, what they believe, how they get along, what they do and don’t do. He knows who’s been bad or good. He dictates a personal letter to seven different churches. And since He ever lives to make intercession for us before the Father, I am certain that He doesn’t just write these letters, but He prays for these churches.
We take up the topic of peace this morning. There are many different kinds of peace. Peace in nature means no howling Northeaster coming down the Frasier River valley. Peace in Ferguson, Missouri means not protesters and rioters on the streets. Peace in Iraq means no suicide bombs going off, no bursts from assault rifles. Peace at work means no demanding bosses, no deadlines calling for attention, no piles to deal with or something broken that is holding everything else up. Peace in the home means no babies crying or kids fighting or spouses grumbling. Peace in our soul means no fear or anxiety, no doubt or guilt, no cloud of depression. Last week we talked about the difference between conventional hope or worldly hope, like hoping something happens, and confident hope or Biblical hope. Peace in the conventional sense usually means absence of struggle, war, fighting, chaos. Peace in the Bible is not absence of struggle, but presence of quiet, confident trust. In the words of Jesus this is a peace not like the world gives. In the words of Paul this is a peace that surpasses understanding which we want to talk about this morning. Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.