gods of love | Week 3

1 John 4:16 – “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
C.S. Lewis – “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
Psalm 139:13-14 – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – “We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”

INITIAL QUESTIONS

Name some of today’s popular songs with the word “love” in it [Taylor Swift, anyone?]:

Possible response: "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, etc.

SUMMARY OF VIDEO

Kyle begins by repeating the Greatest Command in Matthew 22:27, which is to love the Lord with all of your being. If we love anything more than God, we commit idolatry and one consequence is that all other loves will be disordered. Today's culture is obsessed with romantic love, and thus love is a "god" that is often worshiped apart from its true God-given meaning. 

Shannon Rants tells her story. She experienced sexual abuse as a little girl. As a consequence, she grew up rejecting her gender and wanted to be a boy. She grew up believing that she was a mistake and that she was not valuable. She desired to be loved and so she would sexualize herself to get attention from guys. She also wanted to be accepted by other girls but in doing so she began to be attracted to the same sex. She describes falling into pornography, where she thought she can get love that can satisfy but she realizes that the fantasies "never satisfy". She felt that guys would merely use her, without really caring for her. This only made her feel worse about herself. 

Kyle teaches that there is an emptiness that only God can fill. If we try to fill this emptiness with anything other God, we end up seeking "cheap substitutes" that will only leave us even more empty. We see that "love" is worshiped in modern culture by alluding to a movie where the guy says to the girl, "you complete me". This is a lie because were made for God and only he can complete us. Whenever we give ourselves to be loved by other things before God, we betray God's love for us. But he does not walk away from us; he fights for us and he died on the cross to save us. 

The turning point in Shannon's life happened when she met a teacher who introduced her to the love of Christ. She realized her need for a Savior that can save her from her mistakes. For the first time, she felt a reason to live and she started to care what God thinks of her. She started to pursue God in her college years. She felt God healing the wounds for her past and her mistakes. 

Kyle says that when our relationship with God is right, all other relationships will find its proper place. Nothing is more destructive to our love lives than to love others more than God - no one can take God's place in our hearts. 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Genesis 1:27 – “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
  1. What does it mean to be created “in the image of God”? What does this mean for the value of every person?

    Possible response: This means that unlike other animals, man has a special relationship with his Creator in that some characteristics of God are present in man also: intellect, emotions, morality, ability to form relationships, etc. Because of these God-given qualities and a special relationship with the Creator, every person has special value in the eyes of God. 

  2. A parent loves their child who is in their “image”. How does our creation in God’s image mean about God’s love for us?

    Possible response:  If human parents are able to love their children, plan the best for them, and even give their life for them, God our heavenly father is even more so loving towards his children, created in his image. Imperfect, human parents cannot "out-love" God.

  3. How is love “hijacked” in modern society? Think about movies, music, etc.

    Possible response: Today's music, movies, etc. say a lot about love and romantic relationships. A quick glance at pop hits show that today's culture views love in predominantly sexual and physical terms (e.g. visual attraction). Culture often views "finding true love" in another person as the ultimate human experience, with the lover as the ultimate source of happiness for the person. 

  4. Read Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:24 – who “invented” marriage and sex?

    Possible response: God invented marriage and sex. He is thus the only one with the right to define their meaning and boundaries. 

    Read Ephesians 5:22-32 – what is marriage a reflection of?

    Possible response: Marriage between a husband and his wife is a reflection of the loving relationship between Christ and his Church. The husband is the head of the wife because Christ is the head of the Church. Wives ought to submit to their husbands because the Church submits to Christ. Finally, husbands ought to love their wives because Christ loves the Church. Marriage is thus a metaphor that points to God's love for his people. 

    From the above two passages, and from Matthew 5:27-28 – what are the proper boundaries for sexual relations?

    Possible response: From these passages we can learn important points about marriage and sexual relations: a.) Marriage is a God-ordained union of two people of the opposite sex with a purpose for companionship and procreation, b.) Marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church, c.) Lust outside of marriage is equal to adultery.

    Thus we can conclude that all sexual activities are to be enjoyed only within the confines of marriage. Any deviation from this ideal is not God's ideal. 

  5. In John 4, Jesus says to the woman at the well who has had 5 husbands, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” What is Jesus saying here?

    Possible response: Jesus uses man's physical need and thirst for water to illustrate how God alone can satisfy the greatest needs and thirsts of humanity. Only Jesus can give water that can forever satisfy and give eternal life. 

READ ROMANS 8:35-39: MEDITATE (AND MEMORIZE)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Summary: In God we find the purest love (”God is love”) and so all kinds of “love” (in its true meaning) are a reflection of God’s love. God expressed his love for us by creating us in his image, and by sending his Son to free us from our mistakes and our sin, so that we may live with him satisfied. Because of this, we find our truest value from God and God alone, and our truest joy and satisfaction from God and God alone.