God so loved the world…
Note: This article was first published 4/20/2018. It has been revised and re-edited for you here.
The point is for something to change the way we are. It requires something substantial to alter our attitude about our situation. We must seek that which is outside our reach.
The loftier the goal the greater our need to excel to get there. And the really high goals, we may never fully achieve; but that is fine. It is okay, because if we were to achieve them, then we’d necessarily need another goal.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
What an amazing quest to be on; to pattern the way we love after the way God does. There is a saying that in order to reach mountain tops you need to reach for the sky. It holds true that in order to reach the sky you must reach for the moon; and the moon you reach for the stars.
Therefore our success, is not determined by reaching the said goal, but rather in our diligence to achieve it. The Measure of that success isn’t our arrival, but in our progress towards that goal.
Goal: Loving as God Loves
I’ll cut to the chase, because if you are a believer, then you already know where we are going with this.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (HCSB)
But the reason I am writing this isn’t to rehash this beloved passage. For all its power and meaning, we so often glaze over it due to our familiarity with it.
If we were to write a condensed version of the scripture the thing I would like to see in that passage is to take Genesis 1:1 and fix this verse to it.
In the beginning, God loved the world in this way!
Because, He did!
God is not subject to space and time. He can and is everywhere all the time. There is no place we can hide from His love. He is relentless in His pursuit of us. More than any love known to man.
Because of this presence of God, traversing time and space, before he even began to create us, He loved us!
He loved us then even though prior to the fall he was aware of the disobedience to come in the Garden of Eden. He was and is, fully aware of every sin we ever committed or will commit. This applies to every person for all time. He experienced prior to creation. He also experienced the pain and suffering that would be the price to redeem His creation from our fallen condition.
All of this, He was fully aware of prior to creation, but despite all that, He Loved us then as he Loves us now. A love so profound it was worth every sacrifice to assure its fruition.
THAT’S how much He Loves us!
So The Bar Has Been Set
There is our benchmark. The love God has for us. There a many ramifications when we set our sights on this benchmark in the way we behave as Christians. I’m going to try and cover as many as I can think of off hand here, but I’m sure if you think about it a while you can think of others as well.
The love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, provides a good start for us.
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (HCSB)
Quite a list here… let’s go through them. Because each of them apply to us as we learn to love as God love.
Love is Patient
Have you lost your patience with anyone lately? I have. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even attempt to count the number of times that I have lost patience with people this week.
What does this tell me? Immediately I recognize that I am not loving anywhere close to the way God loves me; the way God loves everyone.
If love is patient, and I’m not; am I loving? I don’t think so.
Love is Kind
Oh thank you! Kindness is something that I think I live up to!
Well, maybe not always. The problem is that I really am a kind person, kind of, sort of. I like being kind. But I often find myself in situations when I am in a rush, or have things that must be done, and there isn’t always time to be kind.
Do I get a break for that?
Wow, so that’s not love either.
Love Does Not Envy
I am seeing where this love business is no walk in the park. Yes, I envy things. That doesn’t mean that I would take something from someone just because I want it. Maybe they would barter for it? What do you think?
Oh yeah, right, not love.
Love is not Boastful
I wouldn’t want to brag, but… This is getting painful.
Love is not Conceited
So, let me get this straight. If I am boastful then it is likely that I’m conceited as well. The two go hand in hand
So no not loving on this count either.
Love does not Act Improperly
Now I do pretty good at this. I really do! But no one is perfect. Well yes, Jesus is but no normal person is.
But then I’m trying to imitate God. God is perfect. If it were possible God is better than perfect. So no, my improper behavior signals that I don’t love as He does.
Love is not Selfish
I can’t even pose an argument here. I battle with ‘self’ all the time. Being selfish is to put oneself ahead of someone else. I do like to get that closest spot to the door at the grocery store. I do like to be first. First is nice. Second isn’t too bad, but I get it.
Love is not Provoked
I have certain buttons and ‘it is on’! There are lines that when crossed I am going to push back. It’s a matter of honor after all!
No.. No you’re right, It may be a matter of honor but it is certainly not love.
Love does not Keep a Record of Wrongs
Hold a grudge? Can’t think of any this moment. But it happens. Especially when someone hurts my family. I know that it’s not love but
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
In love we find it…
rejoices in the truth…
bears all things…
believes all things…
hopes all things…
endures all things.
“I want to Love Like That!”
In His Grace!