August 20, 2022

Love Is the First Spiritual Gift (Proper 21c)

 Love is the first spiritual gift we receive. This assures us that we have really established a right-relationship of love with God. Since love is a mystical or spiritual gift, men often have more trouble “getting it” than women who are usually more intuitive. Love is probably the most used and least understood word in English. Best understanding is Nicky Gumbel’s sharing of how he fell in love with Pippa – hint – they just knew. The Readings teach us:

·      Jeremiah’s Love of God enabled him to overcome his fear

·      Paul explains how overcoming our fear leads to joy

·      Jesus taught us that love frees us from the Law


1.    Jeremiah’s Love Overcame His Fear

Prophecy and healing are the most dangerous ministries Jesus calls us into. Prophets are attacked physically, and healers are attacked spiritually. Jeremiah is a classic call story:

·      Dangerous time of widespread apostacy – like our own

·      Jeremiah was part of a faithful remnant – like us

·      Jeremiah both loved and feared God – like us

·      Tried to opt out of a dangerous ministry – like us

·      God showed love, gently corrected him – like me

·      God anointed him with both “words” and authority over kings and nations

·      God’s spiritual gift of love overcame Jonah’s mental fear


2.    Paul Explains How Overcoming Fear Leads to Joy

The Covenant of Moses was based on faith as fear of God. The Covenant of Jesus added a new way to forgiveness, based faith as love of God. The point is love can overcome our fear:

·      We both love and fear God

·      Love God with our hearts and fear losing that love with our minds – it’s complicated

·      Paul is teaching us the importance of our love of God overcoming our fear of stepping out in ministry like Jeremiah

3.    Jesus Teaches Us Love Frees Us from the Law

The 10 Commandments are a summary of the Law. I like to think of them as “The Commandment” - # 1 To Love God with all our heart and “The nine clarifications or tests of that love”:

·      People who really love God with all their hearts do not love or honour other gods or fail to love God’s creation by dishonouring parents, murder, stealing, adultery, false witness (lying) and coveting what belongs to others

·      Jesus Commandment to love one another supplemented but did not replace the 10 Commandments as tests of love

·      Goal is not to keep the rules- but to love God

·      Misinterpreted in our time by liberals who believe the Law is obsolete and we just have to love one another and be kind

·      The Pharisees missed # 1 and they miss the nine tests– very spiritually dangerous 



4.    “Do Not Refuse Him Who Calls You” (Heb. 12.25)

All baptized Christians are called and anointed for ministry. There are seekers but no passengers in the church. Everyone helps row the boat. We all have to constantly listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us about our ministry. Overcoming our fear and stepping out in love gives us the joy we all seek:

·      Gave a zoom talk on “Deliverance from Masonic Vows and Curses” to a group of Roman Catholics last week

·      20 women and 4 men, all laypeople deep into Healing Prayer ministry

·      Very brave people who had responded to a call into this dangerous and sadly devalued ministry

·      No clergy (as usual in healing ministry)

·      “Education for ministry” is an oxymoron as intellectuals often struggle to understand the power of spiritual gifts 

·      Love is the first spiritual gift

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