As children, we begin to understand a little of the love of a parent for a child. As parents, we gain a much deeper understanding of that parental love.
If we can understand the love of a parent for a child, we can begin to understand the love of our Heavenly Father for us, His children. I might be more accurate if I said that I can understand the love God has for me, His child. If He loves me more than I love Ryan, and He does, I am loved with an enormous love.
To extend our understanding to God's love for His other children is a little different, isn't it? We would probably never admit this, but we don't always see His other children as being equally as worthy of love as we ourselves.
That sounds terrible when I read it back, but I know it's true. How? Because I see how we treat each other.
A young friend of mine confessed recently that she's been told she will need to find another church because of her political views. Where's the love of God in that? My brothers and sisters, how does this behavior demonstrate the love of Christ to a dark and perishing world? How does it glorify Jesus? (I invited her to my church, because we have made a conscious choice to love all who come.)
It's easy to say we love everyone, but it's not so easy to prove it by our actions. 1 John tells us what love looks like, and it's far greater than I can begin to comprehend.
"By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10 nasb
That verse is a shocker. Here's the Leanna Paraphrase: "Anyone can tell if you are a God-follower or a devil-follower. All they have to do is look at your life. Do you do what's right? Do you love your brother with the same love Christ loved us? If you do, you're following God. If you don't, you're following the devil."
Love is not optional.
Love is also not intermittent.
Jesus Christ loved us all the way to the cross. He didn't stop loving us when He was being beaten. He didn't stop loving us when the nails were pounded into His hands and feet. He didn't stop loving us when He took the weight of a world-full of sin on his flesh-bound shoulders. He loved, and He never stopped. He's still loving.
In a world of "me" and a culture of entitlement, it's hard to understand this, but love looks like the cross, and it's sometimes hard.
"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1 John 3:16
When someone offends us, we are to love anyway. We relinquish our right to lash out and fight back, but we do more. We are proactive by praying and loving anyway.
If we, as the outraged, (no matter what it is that has outraged us) were to begin to love back by praying for those who have offended and outraged us, something wonderful would happen. God would change us both. We would begin to see the person who's offended us differently, but we would also begin to see the sin in our own lives. We would see US differently, too.
In that beautiful way that only God can do, He would draw us both a little closer to Him, and, in so doing, draw us and the one who's upset us closer, too.
It's how unity begins.
We love God more and allow Him to help us love our neighbor more. In all that marvelous loving, unity begins.
If we mean it when we say that we want to heal our nation, we must be willing to do what it takes. Die to self. Live and love as God loves.
This love is what will heal our churches. This love is what will heal our nation.
Dion Warwick sang a very popular song several decades ago. Those words have never been more true. "What the world needs now is love, sweet love."
It's true. Now, more than ever, what we need is love. God's love.
Today, let's choose love. Let's live love. Let's share love, and do it with reckless abandon, for that' how Christ loved us.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Taking a Risk and Praying For Doers
If you'd like to help support this ministry outreach, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841