September 4, 2011 2 Comments
The Apostle John argues in his letter to Christians, that to love is the mark of a Christian.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1John 4v.7
In other words, essentially, the Spirit of God is a Spirit of love. The knowledge of God that is given to us when we are saved is essentially a knowledge of a loving God. All else would be in vain if we did not have the knowledge of the provision for sin through the love of a Saviour in us. Matthew Henry says that it is “love [that] oils the wheels of his affections”–and surely this is a sign of being born again: being compelled to love.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” 1John 4v.8
John then proceeds to explain what the application of this love is: in the image of Jesus. Jesus was God’s only Son, the manifestation of everything–there was no other son that God had left. What Jesus accomplished on this earth was that we would live through Him. What is love, if we do not continually relate it to Jesus? What life is there of the Christian, if we are not continually comparing ourselves against what standard Jesus set for us?
Too often, I think it is too simple to compare ourselves to other people and see how ‘good’ we are compared to them. I can look at the Pat Robertsons and Rick Warrens of this world and think I am better than them, superior in the faith perhaps, and that could be no further from the truth. I am continually needing grace when I see myself and how Jesus needed to die on the cross for all of my sin.
“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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4v.9-11 (English Standard Version)
In another reiteration from John to emphasize and expand his point, he describes specifically the work accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus. What John is describing is not a menial love, that cannot stretch far–but a love that goes till the death. That if we were to love with the love of God which has filled us, it should be a lot that sacrifices itself totally for one another.
The description that John gives a complexity beyond just loving those who deserve love, but those who do not deserve our love. The same applies to grace, that we not only are lavished with this unmerited favour, but we are so fallen beyond deserving or even seen as neutral before God. I like to think of it as a negative bank account balance, no bank would dare give us a loan. The reality is this: that we can only love, when we realise that we are loved undeservingly. We can only love if the love of God inhabits within us.
I was in church the other day, and there was a man who was struggling with addictions. He described how it would go in cycles, he would stop for a time and then when he thought he was victorious, it would come back with a vengeance. There was a certain doubt and defeatism that had entered this man’s heart, that he couldn’t believe in himself to fight this any longer. In an open conversation, my pastor gave two points:
1. The Holy Spirit in our hearts is the only thing that can truly change us. Him, entering our hearts will undoubtedly change us and conform us into what God would want us to be like. Freedom from alcoholism, freedom from drug abuse, and even greater–from sin and the eternal bondage to these depraved things.
2. I can guarantee you that everyone in this church would die for you. We all believe in the Holy Spirit’s power, and His love toward us–I think I am safe in saying that everyone here loves you so much that they would do anything for you.
It’s a monumental statement from my pastor to proclaim that anyone would die for him. He certainly knew his own worthlessness better than anyone else in the church, therefore, better than anyone else in the church should he know of what a love there is in the Church. Where there is a worthless feeling, surely this should be matched with love–that there is a value assigned to us in Christ. To be afraid of love, is to be afraid of God and who He essentially is. I am certainly reminded of what Saint Francis of Assisi said many years ago:
“Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.”
I truly believe that to love others truly it demands everything of us, and this in turn, is a monumental task. I daily realise how far short I fail in this standard and where I don’t have enough faith, I doubt. What does love demand of you, and what ? Is your life different from before you knew Christ, are you loving more?