Sermon Notes for Sunday, July 9
Not safe, but good.
by Tanner Fox
Jack Peebles gave part two of his mini-series on Luke 6, “the sermon on the plain,” this past Sunday. Both sermons are worth the watch if you missed them. He includes bull riding stories, Wolverine references, Les Mis, and even Tina Turner. Something for the whole family.
He taught this week on the four Greek words for love and referenced C.S. Lewis’s classic work, appropriately titled The Four Loves. The excerpt below is probably the most famous the book has to offer and quite possibly the longest quote you will read all week, but I promise, it’s worth it…
“Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering...There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbation (anxiety) of love is Hell.”
Chapter IV - Charity, The Four Loves
The love of the Father leads to suffering. Jesus Christ suffered not only by taking on the nature of a servant, but in giving of himself as the sacrifice for our sins. I went back and read these thoughts from C.S. Lewis and found them to be altogether true, frightening, and liberating. Not a moment goes by in which I am free from the threat of something I love being taken from me. I cannot protect my heart from the pain of loss anymore than I can stop rain from falling in Orlando in the summer. And yet, I pray that we choose to love. To have our hearts wrung and possibly broken. To invest deeply into relationships that the Lord leads us into. To invest graciously into the enemies that we meet along the way.
But why? Why should this be our heading? Why not turn a blind eye to the needs around us? Why not insulate our hearts with hobbies and luxuries, avoiding the rub of relational conflict? Wouldn’t life be better without the worries of another?
No. I’m afraid it is not.
Being made in the image of God means being made for more than isolation. We were built for beauty and joy, manifested in the mess of relationships. We are glorious creatures blessed with the opportunity to bring glory to our Father alongside a great cloud of image-bearers. And there is nothing safe about it. Whether it is your wife or your enemies, or if the two feel like they have become one, to love is to make yourself vulnerable. To love is to meaningfully risk. To love, in this way, is to know God. Many, many years ago, Lucy asked Mr. Beaver, “Is Aslan safe?” Today we ponder the same question. “Is love safe?” I imagine Mr. Beaver would answer in a similar fashion as he did about the lion. “Of course he isn’t safe, he’s a lion… but he is good.”
Love, safe? No, but the cross reminds us, it is good.
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org