“…the call of authentic Christianity is a call to love people unconditionally…consistently, selflessly and freely. The ability to fulfill this call is not found in any human effort, but in the reality of the indwelling of Him who is Love…”whoever walks in love, has God dwelling in them”
– John Dindi
A few weeks back, I was sitting in a church, where I typically attend and was listening to the sermon. Now, I am really into semantics and I go a little overboard sometimes. I admit that. I have no trouble admitting that I do. However, the drawback to being overly sensitive to semantics is simple-I listen to every sing word you say.
I’ve been to this church a number of times and I’ve enjoyed some of the sermons as well. Now, I say that because I always pick the sermon apart in my own head and I either agree or disagree with it. It’s sort of something I do (call it protecting doctrine) and it also has to do with upbringing. The reality is that I’ve learned over time to take in good preaching and throw out anyone who doesn’t preach what you agree with.
So, as I am sitting there, listening to this sermon the preacher says something that really hits me. It doesn’t hit me in a good way either. The basic line of thought was this “If you focus only on the love of God and you view Jesus as only your friend and not as your Lord, then you will live a life of debauchery. You will begin to look for loopholes.”
I was floored. My jaw was dropped almost to the floor. I wanted to scream at that moment! I wanted to stand up and scream out about how wrong I believed that statement was. I choose the road less traveled and I remained silent. I kept my cool but it bothered me that statement found its way into the sermon which is trying to reveal what a disciple is all about.
It made me think about this though, what’s love got to do with it anyway? Isn’t it everything? I think it is. I think that making blanket statements such as the one above leans towards deception, even if the intent is to show the harm of abusing something. That is kind of the key element that is missing here to. There was no mention of abusing grace and mercy, which can be done. There was no statements which discussed the differences between a believer who is in Christ yet continues to struggle with his or her sin and someone who is simply playing the game of being a Christian but has no root.
Jesus talked about those kinds of things. Jesus didn’t shy away from letting people know there were sincere followers and people who meant well but had no foundation and would simply “fall away” and then there would be a host of false prophets and teachers thrown into the mix.
One of the struggles and challenges that present the church today is this overwhelming attempt to find those “sincere followers.” I think we miss the point in that endeavor. Yes, the Word says that we will know followers by their fruit but we also know that fruit can look good but be bad. The underlining issue is that there are followers of Christ and those who claim to be his followers and are not.
Let’s focus on this though, for now anyway. What’s love got to do with it? I am challenging both myself and you (the readers) to put all of your eggs into one basket. I am challenging you to see what might happen if you focus only on the love of God.
Here’s the reason for that:
God is love.
Is God good? Yes!
Is God Lord? Yes!
Is God Judge? Yes!
The question that stands before is why? Why is God good? Why is God the Lord? Why is God going to judge? It all goes back to who he is, love. Love is the reason that he is good. Love is the reason that he is Lord. Love is the reason that he is judge. It all falls under the umbrella of God’s unconditional love for mankind.
Is love really that important? What happens if we only focus on the love of God and nothing else? Isn’t there a danger is only focusing on God as good and as a friend and not as Lord and Savior and Judge? Don’t forget that question either, it will resurface…for now what’s love got to do with it anyway?
- John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son and whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Our entry point is this-that God loved us so much that not only did he send us his only Son, Jesus but through him he offers us eternal life. All God asks of us is simply to believe in the one he sent.
- 1 John 4:7-11
“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. 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. 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.”
Two quick points I would love to make. First, the fruits that people should see in the believer’s life are the fruit of love, always. That is the definitive difference between good and bad fruit. Fruit may look identical on the outside but internally the difference is whether it is by love or not. Secondly, have you noticed our inability to love? True love is not that we love God but he loves us! It is from his love that our sins are forgiven and we live our lives for Christ. It’s all about love!
- Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Many times I have both heard and said this, “fruits of the Spirit.” There aren’t any fruits though; there is one fruit of the Spirit. It is singular. The fruit of the Spirit begins here with love and encompasses joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When our lives are live within these confines, then the Law of God, which exists to reveal our weakness, cannot be against us.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus left his disciples, not simply with a new commandment but an example of how to live out that commandment. (Love, as I have…) Secondly, Jesus was nice enough to let his followers know that by our love, people will know we belong to Christ. Love then isn’t simply something we are called to do but is an integral aspect of our identity as followers of Christ!
· 2 Cor. 5:14-15
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
We are compelled by what makes the greatest impact in our lives. Some are compelled to help out those less fortunate and others are compelled to fight against injustice in the world. We are people who live by what convicts us. As believers, our convictions should flow from the love of Christ and therefore, our lives are lived from his love.
What about God being our King, our Ruler and our Judge? What about the obedience and the call to self denial? What about those? How does focusing only on the love of God fit into that? I’m glad you asked! Let’s continue…
- 1 John 3:16
“By this we know love that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
Our willingness to sacrifice what we have for the sake of others should be from the knowledge of Christ, who is love. He is our example and in setting that example, Christ sacrificed his own life. He surrendered his time for our sake, to teach us about the kingdom of God. He sacrificed his talents, and showed us a better way to live. His sacrificed his life that we might live for him.
- 1 John 5:3
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
Did you really just read what that scripture said? This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. That means that when we respond to his commands and obey them, we are actually revealing the love of God. Even Christ said that the entire Law is fulfilled by loving God and loving others.
- Eph. 5:1
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
When we begin to see God as love, every fiber of our being should be transformed. When we see God as the one who loves us without condition we ought to realize the freedom we have in serving and responding to his call. We are accepted before God because of his love for us and because of the work of Christ, not our own.
On this side of heaven, we will fall, we will fail and we will struggle. Yet, the love of God will remain. The love of God will always be there as a source of strength and encouragement. The love of God will be our light in the darkness.
We live for God, not to be loved but because we are already loved. We imitate Christ is all that we do, not to be accepted but because we are already accepted. We seek to honor God in our lives because we are already adopted sons and daughters of the King. He has saved us, transformed us and we are being made perfect.
Because God loves us.
“For the Love of God” written by Mike Monica.
All Scripture references from http://www.biblegateway.com/