Love is something that we all know.
Yet it is something we don’t know at the same time.
We all have our definitions and inputs.
Your voice is important but there are also misconceptions of what love is as everyone chimes in.
I am not the authority on love but I know the God that is the very definition of love and which genuine love flows from.
I know that worldviews and opinions are many and I am not here to silence them but what I believe to be the universal truth regardless if you believe it or not is that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that to know what love is, one cannot separate it from who God is in accordance to His word.
The church at times may give a wrong perspective of what love is and to that I apologize.
But we are not here to focus on today where the church has succeeded or failed but to see what God Himself says love is and how the simple yet complicated concept of love counters death, condemnation, and apathy.
Counter to Death (1 John 4:14-16)
Young and old.
Rich and poor.
Regardless of who you are and what you have, death is fast approaching everyone that is on this earth.
The greatest counter to death is ironically the death of Jesus Christ on the cross BUT not just His death but His resurrection from death that gives people who believe the hope that the grave is not the final destination! Before Christ, death was a stop sign that ended the story of your life but now death has been converted into the pearly gates of heaven.
It was His death that stopped death and His resurrection that put death in the grave.
Jesus Christ is the example of how love counters death. It states in verse sixteen, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” His sacrificial love is the model but model for what? If you continue, it further claims that the result of knowing, receiving and believing that model displayed by Christ should cause us to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Christ’s loving sacrifice counters death and thus causes this domino effect where we who follow should follow in sacrificial love for one another. This is not to say we die on our crosses literally but that we may have to let go of our desires for a bit and take time to serve and meet the needs of those around us and especially those whom we consider “family” but not exempting the stranger on the street.
I think one reason why good deeds that are especially done for those that cannot give back to us makes us feel good because we are fulfilling our God given nature to be loving for He is love and we are created in His image. To love is part of our DNA but like sickness and disease that tries to destroy our bodies, the world and sin will try and harden you against others to make you “wise” at the price of your identity of being a loving person in Him.
Don’t forget… who you are!
Don’t forget where you come from!
A tried and true illustration from the Lion King that I use often is when the Spirit of Mufasa talks to a grown Simba. Mufasa tells Simba that he has forgotten him, to which Simba desperately tells the spirit that he could never forget.
But he did.
Simba forgot who His father was because he was not acting like who he was meant to be. He was not supposed to be running around the jungle with a meerkat and warthog while eating insects but was supposed to be a freakin lion that ruled like a king, like his father. So for him to not act in accordance to his heritage, like his father, was to forget who his father was but ultimately who he was.
To forget and not act like God is ultimately not acting in accordance with who you truly are because you and I whether we admit it or not have been created in God’s image.
That’s why Jesus, who was the ultimate example of a son showed us the way when we have lost our way in sin so therefore the whole book of John is a huge reminder of who God is and thus who we are when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord.
Counter to Condemnation (1 John 3:19-20)
Ever hear that phrase, “trust your heart.”
Whoever made up that statement has not read Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it?”
I’m not saying that we cannot trust our hearts ever or start condemning our emotions but often times we give our hearts too much credit and authority in our lives!
We fear the condemnation from others but I think the more sinister condemnation comes from within when we are the biggest condemners of ourselves. In verse nineteen and twenty, John is writing to us that when our hearts condemn us, which it will do from time to time; our assurance and comfort is that God is greater than our hearts and that, “He knows everything.”
When you look at an invention, the best person to know how the thing works is the inventor. As God is our creator, than it is actually God that can fully understand the heart and just because we claim that our heart is ours, doesn’t mean we will fully understand it because it was created by Him, given unto us to steward.
To think we fully understand our hearts is a sign of immaturity because a maturing person will come to grips with the idea that one will never fully know who they really are but in the pursuit of development, accepts the fact that more is yet to be revealed.
Love counters condemnation because God’s love knows our hearts fully and even in the midst of our imperfection, He still chooses to love us. Two things I realized this year about God’s love.
If we receive God’s love and know that He doesn’t condemn us, then we forfeit the right to condemn ourselves
God loves you and forgives you of the past but what is more astonishing is that He chooses to love and forgive you knowing what you will do.
Counter to Apathy (1 John 3:17-18)
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
Apathy is a scary thing.
To be angry is scary but apathy or not caring takes that to a whole nother level.
Apathy is the recipe for a cemetary to develop within a community.
I have interacted with homeless people in the past and the obvious needs that they have are shelter and food. These are necessary needs that need to be met but one thing that I realized is that the deeper hidden need is connection with another human being.
The reason why so many of them go “crazy” or begin to talk to themselves is because no one talks to them. What is frightening is that people go about their lives and if not judging them and making excuses as to why they might even deserve the state that they are in, they flat out ignore them!
If we have experienced the love of God that connects us to God who is love, then the natural outcome is to give that love to others. A heart that has become apathetic to the needs of others and does not show compassion is a heart that needs to check that connection to God again.
In this passage context the call to meet the need of another brother is within the spiritual family context but it also extends to the people outside the kingdom of God as well. The idea that our thoughts going out to people are good but if all we do is give our thoughts when we can actually do something will reveal that our thoughts are meaningless.
As harsh as that sounds, the reality is that God is not the God of nice thoughts but very much takes action to show compassion tangibly to broken people.
A big question we have to ask ourselves then is, “How can I not partner with apathy?”
How can we possibly not walk in indifference if we don’t want to be emotionally drained.
This doesn’t mean that we are to be the saviors over everyone we meet but there needs to be heart check, do you care for people other than yourself? Do you find yourself reasoning as to why you shouldn’t love rather than finding yourself doing what you can to show love to those who may not even be able to love you back?
An irresponsible way of meeting the needs of others is when you neglect the needs of those you are responsible for, for example your children if you are a parent or yourself to the point where it requires that someone takes care of you because you take care of others.
What about emotional capacity then? I can’t handle this emotionally!
We all have a certain limit before we go empty and thus give the worst of ourselves to others when we keep on trying.
How do we combat this?
I’ve learned in an exercise science class that when we are under extreme exercise, we breathe more not because we need more oxygen but because we need to expel the buildup of carbon dioxide in our bodies. Too much CO2 is harmful to us, so when we build up a lot of it due to overworking muscles, we breathe more to prioritize getting rid of that waste.
When you exercise your love muscles, one of the natural by products is being hurt because humans in this current state will do that. It happens. To get rid of it...one must breathe. Get rid of those toxins as you take in the breath of God by choosing to rest from work and responsibilities for a minute to meditate on His words and just sit in His presence through prayer/worship. I realize that the more difficult the seasons/people, the more you have to take times to breathe.
If you’re looking for advance steps or rituals then just stop.
It won’t get more “advanced” than this.
To show the compassion of God we need to be filled with the compassion of God.
To love like God we must be connected to the love of God.
What is foolish is thinking that we can do God’s work without God and love like God without being loved by God.
It may seem like it will take up your time but it is the only way.
Blessings and Merry Christmas to you all!