I started out writing a different blog this morning but after writing it I felt impressed that I was to write on love instead. I don’t know who this post is for but if you are the one I pray that you are able to trust in God’s love a little more fully from reading this.
Paul writes to the Galatians, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (v. 14) For some of us loving our self is not easy because of our upbringing or because of our life experience. The result is that we just don’t know how to love like the Bible asks so instead of receiving comfort we experience guilt. If I can’t love myself where do I even start in loving the cranky neighbor down the street?
Let’s back up a bit and take a look at Romans 13:9b, 10. “ ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Maybe this is a little easier to get our head around. Love to my neighbor does not mean I must love that neighbor like I love my children, but that I do no wrong to him/her. Maybe we could say that we treat them with respect and dignity. To love a neighbor, meaning our society, is to treat them well and not to bring harm upon them through our words and actions.
In 1 John 4 we read, “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” (v. 8) He goes on in verse 10 to state, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins.”
God is not responding to our love but we respond to His love because He loved us first. Brennan Manning is right when he states that the one great question God has for us is, “do you believe I love you?” This is a sticking point for people who have been beaten up by life and abused and mistreated by men who stood as authority figures in their life. How can you believe God the Father loves you when your father abused you?
Notice John says that God sent “His Son to be the expiation for our sins.” The Cambridge English Dictionary gives the meaning for expiation as: “to show that you are sorry for bad behavior by doing something or accepting punishment.” What John is saying is that Jesus accepted our punishment for our sins. That is love in action for us. What Jesus experienced in the beating and then the crucifixion is beyond our understanding. But it was all done because He loves us.
I want us to look at three more verses in 1 John before we move along. “In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in the world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.” (v. 17-19)
Because of love we may have confidence to face judgment and there is no reason to fear. Also notice that we love because “He first loved us.” When we understand that God loves us unconditionally not because of how good we are, or how much we have accomplished, or what good people we are, then we are beginning to understand love. Romans 5:8 says it beautifully, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Do you know what Jesus is really saying to us in the Bible? He is saying do you trust me when I say I love you? Do you trust enough in my love for you that you can love me back and allow me to guide your life? If we need proof of that love look no further than Calvary where Jesus died as our substitute carrying our past, present, and future sins to the cross so that we can be free of guilt, shame, condemnation, and death. He died a death of love on that cross because He loves us with every breath in His body.
Just let these following words flow over you for a moment, “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence, which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hear us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of Him.” 1 John 5:13-15
Because Jesus loves you unconditionally and you trust in that love as manifested at Calvary where He freely gives you salvation you never have to worry about judgment or eternal life. You have confidence in His saving power and can trust Him to answer your prayers and hear your needs. He never leaves you alone, never abandons you, and never forgets about you. It is no wonder that Paul could write to the Colossians, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (3:14-15)
You are loved and that love brings us into harmony with God and our fellow travellers on this planet. The result is that peace rules in our hearts because we do not need to fear any more or worry about judgment (see John 5:24; 3:18; Romans 8:1) because redemption is ours. I love that in John 15 Jesus says that He gives us a new commandment “that you love one another as I have loved you,” (v. 12) and then goes on to tell us that He no longer calls us servants if we love but instead calls us friends. (v. 15)
Love drives out fear, removes the condemnation of judgment, allows God to call us His friends, and gives us perfect harmony and peace and trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian isn’t about keeping the law because Jesus has done that for us, it is about trusting in the grace of God that saves “a wretch like me.”
It is the knowledge that Jesus died on the Cross and took my sins upon His shoulders that I may walk free and whatever I ask in His name shall be given unto me. It is the confidence that my sins are cast into the deepest part of the ocean never to come back again. They are forgiven and forgotten. Love written on our heart tells us that we are under the New Covenant of God’s grace and love and we never have to doubt our standing before Him.
God doesn’t love us because Jesus died for us, Jesus died for us because God loves us. God’s love is poured out everyday for us through the Holy Spirit and His wonderful works of love in our lives. Don’t be afraid of what the future holds because you walk with Jesus with your hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee. Be courageous, be strong, no regrets and no retreat for we are God’s.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…