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Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6 NIV



If you are a Methodist, you know about John Wesley, the founder of "Methodism," a movement within the Church of England. Perhaps not as well known was his brother Charles, also an Anglican priest, who is best known for the 6,500 hymns he wrote. One of these speaks to the message found in today's passage, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling." Here is the first verse. (The full lyrics can be found here.)


Love divine, all loves excelling,

joy of heav'n to earth come down,

fix in us Thy humble dwelling;

all Thy faithful mercies crown!

Jesus, Thou art all compassion,

pure, unbounded love Thou art;

visit us with Thy salvation;

enter every trembling heart.


The hymn beautifully encapsulates the themes of love and sanctification, which resonate with the message of 2 John 1:1-10. Here's how they relate:


  • Divine Love: The hymn speaks of divine love coming down from heaven to dwell within us, mirroring the call in 2 John for believers to walk in truth and love, as these are expressions of God's presence within us.

  • Sanctification: The hymn asks for the Holy Spirit to breathe into every troubled breast, which aligns with 2 John's warning against deceivers and the encouragement to abide in the doctrine of Christ for true spiritual freedom.

  • Living in Truth: The hymn's plea for the indwelling of divine love and the transformation into a new creation reflects 2 John's emphasis on living in truth and love as a response to God's commandments.

  • Christian Perfection: The hymn's final verse speaks of being changed from glory into glory, which can be seen as a parallel to the call in 2 John to abide in Christ's teachings and strive for a life that reflects His perfect love.


How do we apply the passage and the hymn's message to the world today? How can we, the church, continue to be a beacon of God's love and truth in a world that often presents conflicting messages? Here are some suggestions:


  • Uphold Truth and Love: Emphasize the importance of living in truth and expressing love in actions, not just words. This means aligning the church's teachings with the Gospel and demonstrating love through community service and support. Live out the intention behind God's message of love. If our message isn't love, it isn't from God.

  • Discernment: Teach and encourage church members to discern what they hear and read. Just as John warned against false teachers, the church should be cautious about teachings that deviate from the core message of Christ. There are many distractions from the message of love; as followers of the truth, we should avoid getting ensnared by these false messages.

  • Hospitality with Discernment: While the early church was advised not to offer hospitality to false teachers, today's church can extend hospitality to all, but with the wisdom to not endorse or support teachings contradicting the Gospel. We are to bring believers to Christ! This means sharing the gospel with everyone. How are they to know the truth without hearing it? How do they know how to love without first being loved?

  • Community Building: Foster a vigorous sense of community among believers, rooted in shared truth and mutual love. This can involve small group meetings, communal worship, and shared meals, where members can grow in faith together. Love begins with our love for God, then to other believers as we continue to grow into perfections, and then outwards sharing the love we've experienced with the world.

  • Outreach and Engagement: Engage with the broader community in a way that reflects the love and truth of the Gospel. This could include outreach programs, interfaith dialogues, and community service projects. We are not alone; many fellow believers are under that big "C" catholic universal Church. Work with our siblings in Christ to promote expressions of love in our communities. Our mission, regardless of denomination, is to bring folks to Christ. Use your God-given skills in whatever way He leads you to fulfill His command to love.


Let us pray.


Heavenly Father,

We thank You for Your presence in our midst,

For the truth that guides us and the love that sustains us.

As we close this time together, we ask for Your continued grace,

To sanctify us in Your love, to grow more like Your Son.


May Your Spirit lead us in the path of righteousness,

Filling our hearts with Your divine love and peace.

Help us to embody the teachings of Your Word,

To walk in love, to serve in truth, and to reflect Your light.


Grant us the strength to face the challenges ahead,

With the assurance of Your love that never fails.

May we be a beacon of hope and a testament to Your grace,

As we go forth in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.


Amen.


Blessings, 

Pastor Tim




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