“Chicken and Waffles: When Love is Really Hard”

Message 3: When Love Is REALLY Hard
 
Key Points:
-We are created to be better together.
-We get better together when giving our best to others.
-We get better together when loving those who deserve it the least.
 
They Hate you – You give them your best
They Curse you – You celebrate their best
They Hurt you – You pray for their best
 
-Understanding God’s love for me amplifies my love for others.
-Us loving those who least deserve it is God’s plan to restore & love us.
 
Further Conversation
1. Some foods are dangerous unless prepared correctly. Have you ever gotten sick from poorly prepared food? What happened?
2. Read Luke 6:27-36 Jesus starts out saying “but to you willing to listen.” Why do you think loving our enemies is a sore subject?
3. Hate, Curse, & Hurt: How does our culture tell us to respond to these? How does Jesus say we respond to these wrongs?
4. How are you like your parents? How does God want us to resemble Him? How would you rate your family resemblance?
5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 How does God see & love you? How does God want us to see & love others?
6. Who is someone who is very hard for you to love? How could you begin to love them with your best for their best this week?
7. God’s plan for the world requires you! How does it feel knowing God is counting on you? What next step do you need to take?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Matthew 5:38-48
How am I different because I follow Jesus? This is a huge question we need to ask. Is our life different because Jesus loves and forgives me and the Holy Spirit lives in me? What is different between my life and the life of someone who doesn’t know God’s grace and forgiveness? Jesus puts a huge authenticity test before us. He says that our love for those who hate us, curse us, and hurt us will be the indicator of the authenticity of our faith. People who don’t know Jesus love others who love them. But it takes something supernatural (the indwelling Holy Spirit) to love those who hate you. If loving your enemies is the indicator of an authentic, life-changing faith in Jesus, how are you doing? Who do you know that is very difficult to love? How are you giving them your best?
Pray: Heavenly Father, you loved me when I was you enemy. For your grace in my life, I now turn to love all people, even my enemies.
 
Tuesday – 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
Lots of changes happen in a young boy’s life as he becomes a teenager. One is that suddenly how they view girls changes. Out go the “No Girls Allowed” signs and they quickly strategized how to meet more and more girls! In a similar way, our sight changes when we follow Jesus. We no longer see people from an earthly perspective but instead we see all people from an eternal perspective. Will the people in front of us experience the resurrection? Will they experience torment & hell? Do they know Jesus? God wants us to see people differently, eternally. He wants us to plead with them to experience His grace. This is love, that I even want those who have hurt me to know God’s grace. How do you see people around you? Do you have an eternal perspective?
Pray: LORD Jesus, people once saw you only as a person, but you defeated death. Help me see people the way you do, eternally.
 
Wednesday – Exodus 23:4-5
Jesus perfected “loving our enemies” but he didn’t invent it. Jesus lived it perfectly, but the Old Testament had long taught it. Here in Exodus, the Israelites are instructed to help their enemy if he is in need. God wanted his chosen people to be different than the rest of the world around them. God wanted them to shine brightly. How brightly is your love shining? Where do you see a need? How can you extend a hand to help? Its always been God’s plan!
Pray: God of love, the world needs to see you. And your plan to show them your love is thru me. Help my love shine for all to see.
 
Thursday – Proverbs 25:21-22
My grandma used to encourage me to “kill’em with kindness.” That’s not the most politically correct thing to say today, but the truth stands none the less. Leaning on this proverbs, Paul says essentially the same thing in Romans 12. Nothing agitates someone aiming to harm you than to be grateful and kind toward them. Hate burns though every emotion but love. Hate can not exhaust love. So when we show kindness to those who hate us, we exhibit a power they can not overcome. Love is the one weapon we have that always works. Who is seeking to bring harm to you? How can you love them today?
Pray: Holy Spirit, it seems so hard to love those who aim to harm me. Renew my strength that I can love all people not matter what.
 
Friday – Romans 12:9-16
Have you ever experienced “pretend” love? Salespeople will be your best friend to get you to buy something from them. They don’t love you, they love their sale. Christians can be guilty of this too. Some people try to sell Jesus, pretending to love others hoping to get a salvation “sale.” But few things sting like the betrayal of pretend love. Paul challenges believers to not simply pretend to love others, but REALLY love them. Don’t simply speak kind words, but back it what action. Be patient with others. Practice hospitality. Bless those who curse you and harm you. Mourn with the hurting. Rejoice with the happy. Be real and show love no matter the consequences. We “pretend” love mostly because we are afraid to be real. Being real requires vulnerability. Being real might get you hurt. But imagine a church and community where people take the risk to love for real. Wow, wouldn’t that be an incredible place to be. Let’s take a first step in that direction this week. Let’s love everyone for real!
Pray: Jesus, you showed us real love as you gave your best, your life, for our best. Help us follow your lead and love others with your love.
 
Saturday – 1 John 3:11-17
How has your week gone? How have you been treated? Many of us carry the pain and anger of past hurts. We want justice. We want compassion. We want our pain healed. God is so quick and eager to give justice, compassion, and healing. But the challenge is that the path to God’s grace for you requires your grace for others. God’s justice is through Christ, not revenge. God’s compassion grows as we show it to others. True healing comes as we forgive. This is the life God wants for us. When we live into this truth, people around us can and will notice. They will see God.
Pray: Loving God, help our church be so full of love for you and love for others that our town takes notice. We want to glorify you!