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A Different Kind of Love

by Revup

based on  John 12:1-8

Jesus showed us the ultimate, agape type of love, which He asks us to share with others. Sorry, no opening joke today. Instead I will discuss how the Gospel Lesson teaches us the vital importance of agape. Agape is self sacrificial love. It is the kind of love where Mary lovingly broke open a costly bottle of alabaster for Jesusí feet, then humbly wiped His feet with her own hair. Agape is the kind of love where Jesus willingly went to a cross and shed his blood so that you and I can have abundant, eternal life. Agape is the kind of love where teacher Shannon Wright pulled a young child behind her, and took two bullets, sacrificing her own life so someone else could live.

The Jonesboro, Arkansas tragedy gave us examples of humanity at itís best, and humanity at itís worst. Like Judas in todayís text, some people are so selfishly intent upon themselves, that they destroy otherís lives trying to find some sick pleasure. There are four ways of viewing the Jonesboro tragedy, and we are going to look at the incident from those four different perspectives. First, we will view the tragedy from the viewpoint of our mainly non-Christian, secular society. Next, we will view the tragedy from the viewpoint of the parents of the accused youth. Then we will take a look at the shooting from the standpoint of the husband of the heroic teacher. Finally, we will take a look at how this event should be seen by us, as Christians. First, letís look at this from the viewpoint of our mainly non-Christian, secular society. Did you have the same first reaction I had to the shootings?

My first instinct was, they need to lock up those kids and throw away the key. My second thought, the parents of those kids need to be tried as accomplices for murder, for giving the kids the guns. That was before I heard the grandfather say how the kids first tried to break into the fatherís locked gun vault, and were unable to get the guns. So the boys broke into the grandfatherís place and broke locks to steal the guns. Next I decided it was the fault of the NRA, all guns need to be outlawed. Then I decided there is no way we can ever eliminate all the guns and deadly weapons, no more than we can eradicate all the arsonists, criminals who use bombs and kidnapping, or mentally deranged people who use poison as their weapon of choice. There will always be a way to kill people. I finally concluded, as some others have, we instead need to figure out how to change people so they no longer want to kill others.

Our society, for the most part, is not really Christian. Sure, many people say they are Christians, but go on worshipping their bank accounts, food, movie and TV stars, elected officials, houses, boats, cars, the government or even sports more than they worship God and Jesus. Materialism seems to be the true god of our nation these days. Too many people feel the problems of our nation need to be solved by more laws. Some look at tragedies like these as things that will be solved entirely by legislating morality, locking up another prisoner and building more prisons. I need to tell a true story. One of the most sweet and innocent young women I ever dated was 18 year old Brenda Roberts. She was the most dedicated Christian I ever knew.

She exuded agape type love to everyone. She began to witness Jesus to a troubled young man. He had murdered a woman, was convicted, sent to prison, and released. He murdered another woman, was convicted, sentenced, served his time and released again. Then he called Brenda, and asked her to come see him. Brenda, sharing that agape, went to see him. That night, he raped Brenda and strangled her to death. At the funeral, we all talked of how Brenda would do the same thing over, if she knew someone would become a Christian due to her death. That is agape. I have a confession. That event made me hard hearted towards murderers. I thought after that event, hang them all, slowly. Donít quickly fry them in an electric chair. Make them pay so they canít murder again. I must admit, that view is really looking at people with secular, non-Christian views.

Again, my first point was to look at this from the viewpoint of our mainly non-Christian, secular society. That is how I was looking at this at first. As many of us felt or feel, lock up the kids forever. Next, we will view the tragedy from the viewpoint of the parents of the accused youth. Letís pretend your son, daughter, grandson, sister, brother, nephew, niece or close friend was the one who did this murder. This is going to be difficult to do, but try to look at this event as something your loved one did. Perhaps they had a mental problem, perhaps it was some other problem. For example, many of us may recall the University of Texas tower, where a man murdered and shot dozens of people with a telescopic rifle. At the young manís autopsy, they found a brain tumor that actually caused the bizarre behavior. Things like that can happen. Some people who bravely served the military cannot cope with life. If your child went wild, and began to kill his or her classmates, how would you feel? Would you rather be the parent of a child killed in their innocent years and went to Heaven, or a parent whose child is a mass murderer? I cannot comprehend how terrible I would feel if my child had done this.

I donít know for absolute sure, but think I probably would rather have a dead child, than a child who was a mass murderer. There are things worse than death. I know a couple whose son murdered a girl in Bettendorf, a dozen years ago. The girlís mother recovered by helping others. The young manís parents visit their son, and know he will never have a real life, or be released from prison. He destroyed his life, and lives in Hell. It is important for us, as Christians, to look at the tragedy from the view of the parents of the accused youth. Next we will take a look at the shooting from the standpoint of the husband of the heroic teacher. I decided long ago that I was going to die some day. Is there anyone here who is not planning on dying, unless the Lord returns for us sooner? Anyone here planning on spending eternity on earth? After I decided I was going to die, and accepted that fact, I decided I would like to die in a way that as many people as possible could find the Lord through my death. I mean, why waste my death? If I must die anyway, why not die in a way that others can find Jesus through my death? Shannon Wright gave her life so that others might live. Did you hear this 32 year old teacherís widower on television? He said that was the way his wife lived. She put others and her students first. What her husband was saying folks, was that his wife lived a life of agape, and she died in a life of agape. Jesus gave us the example of dying for another person.

On rare occasion, we may need to die physically for someone. More often, we need to die to self, in order to demonstrate agape love. Are you the type who has to have things your own way? Do you take the last cookie from the cookie jar? Do you insist upon controlling the television remote? Do you demand the honor of sitting in the front seat of the car? Do you insist you be the leader of the club, ball team, bowling team, lodge, school group or board of directors? Do you insist upon leaving your guns unlocked, no matter what? If you are the type who demands to have things your own way, I suggest you try to do things Godís way. That is through agape, and servant leadership. I think it was critically important we looked at the shooting from the standpoint of the husband of the heroic teacher, as our third point. Shannon was a role model as a servant leader full of agape. Finally, we will take a look at what this event should mean to us as Christians. Folks, we need to see this event as a wake up call. Christians must see that something is drastically wrong in American society. Where are we, when a 13 and 11 year old steal guns and murder 4 classmates, one teacher, and shoot even more? This is a time for our nation to examine ourselves.

What is causing these things? Moral decay from within is a huge part. Children see shows or Internet views with people abused, raped, shot, slashed, stabbed, suffocated, and sliced to pieces. We are desensitized to immorality. One counselor said a 9 year old caught beating another said, "But it didn’t hurt on television." The Jonesboro murders involved a too common broken home. We see no morals in the media. Private, intimate sexual acts are being openly discussed in the news. Teachers are found guilty of sex with young students. We see actors using drugs, drinking, smoking, hopping in bed with a bed with a variety of partners, of either sex. Our nation’s leader admits to an extramarital sexual encounter. Surveys confirm the vast majority of us feel it is not important for the nation to have a moral leader as president. Friends, we can not base morality on what feels good. Immorality can’t be excused by the rank of Army General, or a big name like Jody Foster, Marv Albert, Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson or Littrel Spreewell. The fruit of our immorality is becoming evident.

To Christians this event should awaken us. Historically, tragedy always happens when a nation abdicates and ignores morality. Jesus said in the last days these things would happen. That does not mean we Christians are powerless to straighten out society. The solution to our problems is that we Christians must begin to raise the nationís moral standards. These incidents will happen daily instead of monthly if we stay apathetic. We must begin to clean up our moral acts now. We must start with ourselves and families. Get closer to Jesus. Turn off your TV when you see immorality or violence. Boycott shows or sponsors that trash our childrenís minds. Most of all, we must get ourselves, our families and our friends back to church, back to living by biblical standards and back to sharing agape type love. Christians, get out there and get them, before they get us. Let us pray . . .