Wednesday, June 25, 2014

God Is Love

If you love God then how can you not love your neighbor?

1 John 4:7-12, 16-21  Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.  10  This is real love--not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  11  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  12  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.

16  We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  17  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  18  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.

19  We love each other because He loved us first.  20  If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  21  And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

You have probably heard the short phrase "God is love," it was a very popular saying when I was a kid yet we didn't realize how true that phrase is. In fact God's character and everything about him is defined by love, God is love, it is God's nature to love and love is the essence of his being. God is the source of everything that we know about love and thankfully we don't have to live in a world without love because our creator's character is defined by love and he gives it to all of his creation. Try to imagine how different our world would be if God were not so loving, it doesn't matter if you are his child, God's loving character benefits all of us.

God is the limitless source of all love and he is the perfect model of what genuine love looks like. Every child of God should understand that God's way of showing love is pretty extreme but it is our example. Just as God is a limitless source of love we need to love without ceasing as well. Scary thought, the Bible tells us that we are to be loving, it doesn't say we have a choice but it tells us that if we are not loving then we do not know God.
Psalms 116:5 How kind the LORD is! How good He is! So merciful, this God of ours!
Since God is love those who belong to him have the power to become more loving, God has given us his nature so that we can become more like him, we are not allowed to grow old and crabby! As we experience God and his love and allow his nature to have control of our life we will have to love him and everybody else more.

Another popular phrase when I was young was "you are the only Bible that some people will ever read." Think about it, does your life look like what you say you believe? Does the world see God's love in you?
Ephesians 5:2  Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
Jesus love is brought to full expression for the world to see when they observe the effect it has on your lifestyle and on your character. If I do not live a lifestyle of love then God's love has failed to do what it set out to accomplish in my life. Hatred, envy, wrath, gossip and anything else that shows a lack of love, all have their source in something else other than God. It doesn't originate from him and he does not approve of them.
God's children are loving
John 13:34-35  So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  35  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples."
Just as we can say "God is love," this next phrase should be just as famous and just as true, "Christ disciples are love." Too bad that isn't really true. They started out being known for their love but sometime after the New Testament the church got off of the love thing and started up with the power thing.

The early church went from persecution to power very quickly in the Roman Empire, when this happened the church lost it's first love and it lost a lot of it's effectiveness, instead of being known for love it became known for wars and for building huge cathedrals.

Right after the apostles die off the teaching that they did against false doctrine grew very quickly. Many wars and dirty politics in world history are a result of the church leaving the way of love. Can you imagine how attractive the church would be if it was know for loving  the way Jesus calls us to love?
We give up our leverage in society when we opt for anything other than love. -Andy Stanley
Because God is love the world assumes that God's people should be different. They have the right to expect us to love and be like Jesus, don't get mad if they hold you to a higher standard, there is somebody much bigger that is expecting you to live up to that standard.

I need to remember that: God is the source of all love (1 John 4:7-8) he models what genuine love is (1 John 4:9-10) and he commands me to love the same way that he did. (1 John 4:11-12)