In John 5, we read that the Jewish authorities of Jesus day wanted to kill Him for making a man well on the Sabbath day. Unbelievable really - that their religion had so completely blinded them to the love of God. A little while later, our Lord affirms this&ldots;
John 5:42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
In other passages of Scripture, we are reminded that the very essence of Gods nature and person is love. It, more than anything else, is what identifies and distinguishes Him as Who and What He is. It pulls together and focuses all of His numerous and superlative attributes. In sum, everything in God operates from the basis of this thing called love.
Here are just a scattering of familiar texts conveying this concept&ldots;
1 John 4:8 - He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:16 - And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
1 John 4:11 - Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
2 John 1:5 - And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.
And so we see that this thing called love is of the uttermost importance - that it is what both the Father and the Son want us to know about them more than anything; that the very coming down of the Son out of heaven is substantiation of the Fathers love for us. And unlike human beings who can only talk and sing about love, He demonstrates what it means, how it works, how it is always ready to sacrifice something precious and loved.
Love is indeed something that God is, and this is true because it is how He lives. The very life and dynamic of God flows out His immeasurable love for all of His creation.
The other night I awoke in the wee small hours of the morning, and the Father reminded me most powerfully how much He loved me. I remember lying there, looking down at my young son beside me, so calm and peaceful. I remember gazing down at him for quite some time, thinking deeply. I reflected on how much I loved him, and how so completely easy and natural it was for me to love him.
But where does this kind of love come from, I wondered? I know for certain I didnt learn it from my own father, as he left when I was five years old. It also doesnt have much to do with how lovable, or even likable, my son is. Like most little boys, he is anything but perfect, so it isn't really what he does or doesnt do that makes me love him.
The truth is that I love him, plainly and simply because he is my son, rooted in me, and growing out of me in many ways (both positive and negative). The heavenly Father Himself had planted this love inside of me, and there is no other explanation for it.
As I lay there gazing at my boy, it wasnt long before I started to imagine the Father looking down on me and what He might be thinking at that moment. I love you too my son, came His reply way down in my spirit. I knew immediately it was Him, and more importantly, I believe I understood in that powerful flash of revelation what all of these biblical truths were getting at.
I know my friends, that the Bible has much to say about love that there are, for example, three Greek words for love in the New Testament, and that the first commandment is to Love the Lord thy God, and all others are summed up in Love thy neighbor. But that is not how I need or even want to understand the Fathers love for me, a sinner, an unfaithful servant so much of the time.
It is love, you see, that binds me to Him, and makes me want to serve Him, and follow Him, and manifest the life and glory of His Son through my puny little existence on this fallen earth. If I require some law or commandment pressing down on me to do what should come naturally as a response to Gods love, then am I no different that the scribes and Pharisees who didnt know God because they didnt want His love.
My friends, the Fathers love for us is demonstrated fully and meaningfully by the life of His Son that was breathed into our being at our spiritual birth. It settles once and for all the question of whether God loves us or not.
There is a lot of this sentimental and superficial love floating around lately, not only on the big screen and on the radio, but sadly in our modern churches. Yet this is not the love pouring out from every page of the Holy Scriptures, from the prophets and apostles. This is a worldly and self-gratifying love, which is no love at all. It seeks to get something, not give it up. We know it to be false because it changes no one, and never has. It fails to penetrate the heart and spirit within a man, for it is mere words and empty sentiment.
When God loves us truly, and we come to know that we are loved, wonderful, life-changing things begin to happen. We start to surrender our lives to Him and to love Him in return, albeit imperfectly. We begin to trust Him and include Him, and to lean into Him. Gradually and even hesitatingly, we begin to loosen our grip on our lives and this fickle world, that we can reach for Him, and adore Him who has loved us so perfectly.
Our Fathers love begins to do what only it can do change us deep down, improve us top to bottom, and heal us completely of anything that prevents His love from flowing out of our lives into the lives of others.
My brethren and friends, this is the love with which we are loved, and this is the love that must represent the testimony of our lives and the church in this loveless world. Our singular claim is this: that we have been loved by our Loving Father in Heaven. We can claim nothing else, nor do we need to. If only we can grasp this truth. If only we can see with new eyes the fullest measure of His love for us in Jesus Christ, His Son.
This is my prayer today, for all of us.
Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.
Your friend in Christ Jesus,
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