By Tim White Once upon a time, there was a church that really needed a boost. The church prayed -- the senior adults prayed and the children prayed; the singles prayed and young couples prayed. Everyone who visited the church prayed. Because isn’t that what you do in church? They were all praying that God would somehow let go of His power in order for the church to reach a very troubled world with the love of Christ.
There was one kid in the youth group who had an idea that was so powerful, almost incomprehensible, that it shook everyone in the church to the core. This young person, who was remarkably unremarkable, read the Book of Romans and an explosion, or should I say a revolution, started to take place. The theologians of the church said, “That is not so remarkable because when the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans it literally changed the world. When St. Augustine read the Book of Romans he turned from a playboy to a saint and established a profound foundation for Christianity for the next 1700 years. When Martin Luther read the Book of Romans a reformation took place. When Karl Barth read the Book of Romans people thought about Christianity in a new fresh way which has never left us.”
The remarkably unremarkable student from the youth group was not as impressed with all this theology as she was with the concept of “Love” in the Book of Romans. It was not just ordinary love but God’s kind of love. It described who God was not - wow what a relief. It pointed to what God could do. It made statements such as in Romans 8:39 “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The student thought - why not us, why not now? And there was powerful, amazing transformation in this “remarkable unremarkable” student that dazzled and rattled everyone in the church - in fact, everyone that this student had ever known. It was beyond remarkable. If we were not scholarly people of the enlightenment, we might say it was miraculous. Because almost every person who came into contact with this person was determined to Love first and they were transformed into something very remarkable. The church became the children’s favorite place. It was so much fun and so exciting that it felt like a huge family reunion. Everyone stayed awake during the pastor’s sermon’s, even if they were boring or they did not quite get the point, because they were waiting to learn more about how to experience this remarkable love. Huge, amazing dreams were launched time after time in this unremarkable church. And broken people flocked to the church activities, singles, women’s ministry, youth ministry, community work days, mission trips, recovery groups, international congregations, small group meetings … even prayer meetings.
Everything that the church did started to have pizazz. No one knew what remarkable thing was going to happen next. It was all because in this fictional story that one person dared to love first.
The Bible says, Beloved, let us love one another - he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 Those words are so remarkable that I am not sure any religion or theology can fully accommodate them. But let’s try. This week I will teach a message on love from the Book of Romans. In the New Living Bible, there are 10 chapters that mention love. (More if you do a study of Romans in the Greek, which I have done in preparation for this series.) Dr. Marty Folsom and Pastor Becca McCary are going to help me share in this series of messages. We are calling it Love First. The campaign will begin the first week of October. But prior to that I want to sow the remarkable seeds of this revolution by starting the teaching on love in the Book of Romans.
Now I have a question for you. Would you like to light anew your first love of Jesus Christ fresh and full of enthusiasm? Would you like to fall in love with life itself and all the opportunities that you might be missing? How would you like to fall in love with the people that God has assigned you to love in your life? How would you like to be a part of an explosion of love which rocks our world? Join me as we get ready for the greatest year of our lives. As we simply look at our faith in all the simplicity of putting Love First.
Your friend for the rest of my life,