In Nomine Iesu
1 John 3:1-2
October 13, 2017
What Kind of Love
Dear family and friends of Kay Williams,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The apostle John invites us to see something amazing this morning: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. He wants us to look at the love of God. And that is what we are going to do, with His help.
Love is a tricky topic. Love is the most overused, least understood, word in the English language. We have all experienced love in one way or another—to one degree or another. We have witnessed love. We have felt love. We all aspire to love and to be loved.
But human love is always flawed and faulty. Human love always falls short. That’s because the love we receive and share is usually a merit-based love—at least to some degree. Consider the sentence which begins, “I love you because . . .” Think of all the ways that sentence can be completed. I love you because you are intelligent. I love you because you are attractive. I love you because you bring out the best in me—because you make me proud—because you make me happy. I love you because you are so good at so many things. Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of those sentiments. But please notice how this love between people is always based on some merit, some quality—some desirable, attractive attribute—some quid pro quo. I love you because . . .
But now, see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. See what kind of love the Father has given to Kay that she should be called a child of God. Now, to see the Father’s love for Kay, we have to go back to 1946. Kay was born that year on April 29th. But she was also born again that year, on June 16th, in the waters of Holy Baptism, poured out on her little head by the hand of her Uncle Harold. Before Kay even had the opportunity to do one good work—before she could smile or wave or crawl—the unmerited love of God claimed her and adopted her as a dear child of the Heavenly Father—a sister to the Savior. Her body became a temple of the Holy Spirit.
See what kind of love the Father has given to Kay! That baptism was more than just a quaint ritual or a merely symbolic act. That baptism was God’s love in action. As the Catechism reminds us, baptism gives forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe, as the words and promises of God declare.
In the years that followed 1946 there were constant challenges and struggles in Kay’s life. Her life did not go according to our plans. It didn’t proceed according to that template we call “normal.” No, Kay had needs that were unusual—special needs, we say these days. And there must have been many times along the way when those needs were so great that you could not meet them—times when you were overwhelmed and burdened—times when you despaired—times when you felt like a guilty failure because you could not do all that needed to be done—times when all you could pray was “Lord, have mercy.”
But today I want you to see what kind of love the Father has given to Kay—that dear child of God. He provided for her. He cared for her. He did what we were unable to do. He provided care-givers. He provided therapists. He led Kay to various centers of care where she was able to find satisfaction and contentment and a happy routine in an environment of acceptance. He provided doctors and specialists who could make Kay more comfortable. Do you see it? Do you see what kind of love the Father has given to Kay? It must have been scary and stressful for you to try to navigate all the unforeseen twists and turns of Kay’s life. But her heavenly Father saw them all. For Kay was His child. And there He was—all along the way these 71 years—guiding and leading and directing and providing for Kay. Looking back, we can see that much more clearly now.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us. Part of our heavenly Father’s love for you was bringing Kay into your lives. Yes, Kay was a gift from God for you. For in addition to God’s love, Kay also enjoyed the love of a mother and a father, a brother and a sister, and nephews and nieces and cousins and aunts and uncles. And Kay taught all of us a thing or two about God’s love. For Kay didn’t bring a lot to the table in our merit-based system of love. She was defined by her needs more than her accomplishments. For Kay there was no honor roll, no diploma, no standing ovations for outstanding achievement. Yet, you loved her. You didn’t love her because she merited it. You didn’t love her because. You just loved her. That love was a giving love, a sacrificial love—a selfless, serving kind of love. It was the love of God.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. We can’t fully understand the Father’s love apart from Jesus, the Father’s Son. A few paragraphs later St. John lays it out plainly: By this we know love, that [Jesus Christ] laid down His life for us (3:16). And just a few paragraphs later, the apostle makes it plainer still: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (4:10). This is the kind of love the Father gives to you—undeserved, unmerited, and unearned. Jesus Christ bears away all your loveless thoughts, words and deeds on His crucifixion cross. He takes your punishment. He bears your shame. He endures your pain. And by His wounds we know love. And this is perfect love—real love—divine love—love that lasts forever.
This is the love that sought and found Kay. This is the love that surrounded her a week ago Wednesday when she peacefully departed this life to be with Jesus. That’s the final promise of our text this morning: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. Kay is now with the Lord; and there she enjoys complete and total healing. Kay no longer has special needs. She no longer has regular needs. All that she could possibly need or desire or hope for has been given to her by her loving Savior. She sees Him as He is. And one day you will too. That’s His promise to all His children. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.