CLP Talk 1 God’s Love
MODULE 1: THE BASIC TRUTHS OF CHRISTIANITY
OVERVIEW OF THE SESSION
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 (NABRE)
GOAL: To communicate the truth that God loves us and to provide a better understanding of that love
God is love. Through the lens of our Christian faith, the concept of “love” is expressed in a self-sacrificial manner by which the Father offered His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It is the kind of love that creates, saves, and sustains.
TENOR: Affirming and enlightening
- The music ministry plays a set of acoustic love songs.
- The Christian Life Program Team Leader gives a brief orientation.
- Introduce the speaker.
- The speaker conducts the Writing Activity: “What are you most grateful for?” Write down as many as you can in 1 minute.
- The speaker sings a few lines of his song to God.
- Talk proper
- Play video: A Father’s Love
- The speaker ends with a prayer. Service team then provides hand-outs with prayer.
- Participants proceed with group discussion using metacards: Share about how you have personally experienced God’s love.
- Play video teaser for the next session.
A Couples for Christ brother who recognizes with awe and gratitude his experiences of God’s (Trinitarian) love; he shall also relate this profound truth to his audience with joy and clarity.
THE EXPANDED TALK OUTLINE – FOR THE USE OF THE SPEAKER
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John. 4:16) Love is a universal feeling. There is no one in this world who has not received love nor has not given love. In the secular sense, love is an attraction, a fleeting feeling that is commonly based on the here and now, where “getting-my-own-needs” is a priority, and more often than not is more inclined on receiving rather than giving.
Through the lens of our Christian faith, we believe that love is directly associated with God, as God is love. In the scriptures, especially in the New Testament, “love” is expressed in a self-sacrificial manner by which the Father offered His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It is the kind of love that creates, saves, and sustains.
1. God’s Love Creates
- God is love. God, the loving Father that He is, is also the master creator of all. The starting point for understanding God’s love is found in the book of Genesis. Whatever the Lord creates is good. (Gen. 1:31) For five days, God created the heavens and the earth, the water and the land, the animals and the plants, and “God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) He found that all of creation was not only good, but “very good” particularly the day after the fifth.
- On the sixth day, God created His greatest masterpiece, man, in 2 dimensions: male and female. He created them in His image and likeness. (Gen. 1:27) It was a deliberate act of love, setting man apart from all creation. Being created in God’s image and likeness meant that we mirror the nature of God. He infused in our soul dignity, as the human person represents God. To be created in His image and likeness defines our relationship with God. To be a person is to be in a relationship with God.1 This meant that we are made for love, our hearts made as one with God. We are made for communion!
- The gift of free will came with the gift of life. However, man, in the exercise of his God-given free will, rejected his creator by sinning. Tempted by the devil, man let his trust in His creator die in his heart, and abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command.2 Since then, man has continued to offend God and go against his ways. Sin, as its consequence, not only brings us away from God, but also makes us doubt the Father’s goodness and love for us. However, God’s love never wanes despite the sinfulness of man.
2. God’s Love Saves
- We are redeemed. The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-31 NABRE)3 describes the forgiving love of God. The central figure is the father, and the central message is the father’s prodigal love, his lavish and generous love, not just for the younger son but the elder son as well. (Luke 15:11-31) The younger son took his inheritance as if his father had already died. He suffers misfortune in a distant land and decides to come back after much suffering, and prepares for a three-part statement: 1) “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you”, (Luke. 15:18); 2) “I no longer deserve to be called your son,” (Luke 15:19a) and 3) “Treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers”. (Luke15:19b) While he was still a long way off, his father, probably having waited everyday for the son’s return, caught sight of him. (Luke 15:20b) He showers the son with hugs and kisses despite how scruffy he must have been. (Luke 15:20c) His son stammers with his prepared statements, but the father asks his servants to put on his son the best robe to show that he is regarded with highest esteem, to wear a ring on his finger to show that he has authority as a son, and to put sandals on his feet to show that he is a son and not a slave. (Luke 15:22) The elder son, jealous of the younger brother, returns and refuses to enter the house. He becomes self-righteous. The father reaches out to him and assures him, “My son, everything I have is yours.” This parable illustrates how God passionately loves his children.
- When we sin, God is not indifferent or distant with us. He awaits our response to Him as He constantly draws us back to Himself to restore our fellowship with him. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
- St. John Paul II tells us that God’s love is expressed in the offering of His only Son. Jesus is God’s Beloved. Being the Son who redeems, his acts are redemptive. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 NABRE) Jesus Christ, our redeemer, forgives our sins and restores us to communion with God.
3. God’s Love Sustains
- God is the giver of life. And since life came from Him, it is also through Him that we are sustained in life. Thus, he gives us the Holy Spirit through Jesus as seen in John 14:26-27: “ The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” The Holy Spirit, “who has spoken through the prophets”, is called by many names. St. Paul calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of promise, the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, and the Spirit of God. St. Peter calls Him the Spirit of glory. (cf. CCC 693) The Lord pours out His Holy Spirit in abundance to us.
- It is through the Holy Spirit that we are empowered to face life head on. The power of the Holy Spirit infused in us at baptism, and with its fuller release at confirmation, enables us to overcome the world, the flesh and the work of the evil spirits. Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us in our prayers: it is He who through words and symbols unites us to Christ in the sacraments; it is through Him, in the charisms and ministries, that our community and the Church are built up. 5 We bear fruit in our marriage and family, work, service and social relationships in and through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, and because of Him and through Him we can share in the exchange of love between the Father, who is Love, and the Son who is Jesus, the beloved.
- The role of the Holy Spirit is to sanctify or make holy a person forgiven by Christ. After the fall, the Holy Spirit, through His grace and work of fusing man into communion with God, restores man to his original state. In short, the Holy Spirit’s role is to give new life through the recreation of man.
God’s love is reflected in his creation. God’s love is described in the parable of the father and his two sons. But the fullest revelation of God’s love is the sending of the Son, together with the Holy Spirit7, to suffer and die that we may have life eternal. Thus, it is of utmost importance that we know who this Son really is.