What’s love got to do with it?

crossHere’s the sermon I preached last Sunday at the Regents Park Church of the Nazarene (Johannesburg, RSA). In some ways, love is both the easiest topic to preach on and the most difficult. I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone else.


“What’s love got to do with it?”

Text: 1 John 4:16-21


The word “love” is one of the most powerful words in any language. When we think about music, there’s a whole category of songs that we call “love songs”. So many different lyrics from different songs could be recited, but for some reason what came to mind was Tina Turner’s 1984 hit, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” The words ask:

What’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

Now it would be quite a meeting if Tina Turner met the Apostle John, the disciple of Jesus who wrote our Scripture reading today. What would someone from the 1st century have to say to someone from the 21st? What would they talk about? What would they possibly have in common? Yet they have more in common than you might think at first glance. May I suggest that the entire book of 1 John is in fact an extended reply to the question: “What’s love got to do with it?” And the simple answer is: Love has everything to do with it when it comes to our Christian faith. Sure, it’s not the romantic love spoken about by Tina Turner, but it is a deeper love, a more lasting love, a love that brothers and sisters in Christ have for each other – or at least should have – because of our Lord.

Transition and sermon plan

Today, we’ve only read a few verses from the letter. I’d encourage you to take the time later today to read all of 1 John. It’s short, so it shouldn’t take you too long. If you read it all, you’ll see that a single theme is woven through the book like a golden strand. How can we summarize that theme? Here it is: “If you say you love God, then prove it by loving others.” It’s pretty simple, really. But since we don’t have time to see the whole forest, let’s sharpen our focus and at least examine a few of the trees in that forest. The three “trees” are really three short sentences:

  1. God is love.
  2. There is no fear in love.
  3. We love because he first loved us.

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