I have determined that when it comes to loving others, I feel that I have not loved faithfully. I have loved conveniently, comfortably, levelheadedly, even thoughtfully, but I am not convinced that I loved faithfully. For the most part, I live a very safe life, devoted to the love of myself and my stuff. 1John 4.7-16 challenged me this week as someone who claims to be in love with Jesus. A deep spirit-led introspection has led me to ask some hard questions of myself like:
Is there a difference between a “Christian” and a true disciple–and which one am I?
If I suddenly stopped loving God (as I confess I do), would my life look any different?
If I stopped suddenly loving people (as I ought), who would feel the absence of my love?
Needless to say, last week was a tough week as I realized that, for most of my life, I have loved myself VERY well, and love others poorly. But this has nothing to do with affection for people. It has everything to do with my affection for God–or more properly understood–his affection for me. The apostle John explains not only that “God is love”, in the same sense that “God is eternal” or “God is light”, he says that His love was made visible through Jesus. And if we stop and look , at the love of Jesus, beyond knee-jerk surface level (but true) descriptions of Jesus love like, “Jesus died for my sins” and consider the quality, the nature, and the kind of love we see, He might move us to love Him and transform our love for people. That is because, Jesus love is not like this world–it is a love that is foolish, mysterious, and radical. Consider Jesus’ love:
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is intentional — it is a love that initiates does not only react–it is a love of pursuit, a love that speaks and acts first
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is selfless – it is a love that is humble and other-oriented– it is a love that rejoices in giving knowing it will not receive
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is enduring – it is a love that is planned for and long-suffering–this was not an overnight design but a long commitment extending thousands of years
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is sacrificial – it is a costly love, self-denying and immeasurable–as God, Jesus gives more than anyone will ever sacrifice or suffer
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is gracious– it is a love that is not deserved, not reserved for the lovable, clean or kind–it is a love for the undeserving, broken, and cruel
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is generous – it is a love that gives abundantly, more than enough–it is a love that overflows, that gives extra, that desires to help AND bless
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is relentless – it is a love that never fails, cannot be stopped–nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus, nothing
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is healing – it is a love that is life-giving, effectual not sentimental–it is a love that where we see a visible change in the life of the loved
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is intimate – it is a love that is personal and relational–it is a love that is close, not delegated or abdicated, but involved
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is deep– it is a love that engages the heart and the true need–it is a love that goes beyond the surface to help the real problem
- In Jesus we see God’s Love is true – it is a love that confronts sin and does not ignore it “in love–it is a love that loves too much to leave someone to their sin
- Perhaps most importantly, in Jesus we see God’s Love is faithful – it is primarily God-glorifying–it is love motivated not by blessing,healing, or appreciating but to honor God through loving regardless of result or response.