George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Three Centers of Love
God so loved the world--Joh. 3:16
Christ also loved the church--Eph. 5:25
The Son of God, who loved me--Gal. 2:20
John's Assurance of God's Love for the World
We have first the love of God for the whole world, or, as we should put it, for all the human race. The world of John is not the world of nature, but the teeming world of sinful men and women. Now, the extraordinary thing is this, that such a statement should fall from Jewish lips. The ancient Hebrew was the true aristocrat looking with proud disdain on every Gentile. And it was because this Jew had companied with Christ and drunk deep of His spirit, that there had come to him the rich assurance that the love of God was for the world. Born of a Jewess, made under the law, Christ was the Son of man. For all mankind He lived and taught and died. He was the light of the world. It was in following Him and brooding on His mystery, that the eyes of John were opened by the Spirit to recognize the worldwide love of God.
The Universality of God's Love
The wonder of it deepens when we remember what the world of men is like. The Bible, for all its unconquerable optimism, never gives us a rosy view of man. It is the writer of our text who tells us that the whole world "lieth in the evil one." Like a precious vessel sunk in a foul stream, it is submerged under a tide of evil. And this is not only the view of the disciple, it is the view of our blessed Lord Himself--"the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." I could understand God loving the world of nature where the sunshine is sleeping on the lake. If the human heart is drawn to hill and meadow, how much more the infinite heart in heaven. But that that heart, knowing every secret, should love the teeming millions of mankind lies on the utmost verge of the incredible. It only becomes credible in Christ. It is a dream but for the Incarnation. Unless God gave His only begotten Son, worldwide love goes whistling down the wind. It was because this writer had learned, from personal contacts, the universality of the unspeakable Gift that he awoke to the worldwide love of God.
God's Love for the Church
The second center of divine love is the Church--Christ also loved the Church. And at once this question rises in the mind, why should the Church be singled out like that? Well, when you read the story of the prodigal, you feel that the father always loved that son. When he was far away rioting with the harlots, the father was yearning for him night and day. But only when that prodigal came home could the pent-up love be poured upon the child--and the Church is the bit of the world that has come home. The true Church is not an organization. It is not Episcopalian nor Methodist. It is the mighty company of quickened souls who could never rest content among the swine. Drawn by need, hungry and despairing, they have traveled back to "God who is our home," and found the love that had been always yearning for them. The prodigal was loved in the far country, but there no ring could be put upon his finger. So long as he was there no cry was heard, "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him." To gain these tokens of unwearying love, the poor rebellious child had to come home--and the Church is the bit of the worm that has come home. That is why the Church, and not the family, is the second center of the love of heaven. Some in the family may still be far away, living in utter heedlessness and sin. But no one in the true Church is in the far land. All are brought nigh by the blood of Christ, and love is able to show itself at last in the ring and in the shoes and in the robe.
God's Love for the Individual
The third center of divine love is the individual--He loved me, says the apostle. And it is just here that the love of God so infinitely transcends the love of man. No man can love a multitude with the intensity wherewith he loves his child. No patriot can feel towards all his countrymen as he feels towards his little daughter. But the wonder of the love of God is this, that with a compass that encircles millions, every separate soul is loved as if there were no one else in the whole world. Our Lord was moved to His depths by mighty multitudes. He brooded over them with infinite compassion. He came to be the Savior of the world, and He came because He loved the world. Yet, living for mankind, He gave His richest to the one who fell suppliant at His feet, and, dying for mankind, He gave His heart to the one who was hanging by His side. He loved the world--and gave. He loved the Church--and gave. But all would be incomplete could we not add, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." When we are tempted to doubt the love of heaven for the little unit in unnumbered millions, there comes a gentle voice across the darkness, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."
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