Faith, Hope, LOVE 8
As we come to the concluding chapter of this blog about a big opportunity to show the world the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I want to be clear that out of everything we as Christians present to the world, the greatest evidence of the Gospel is God’s LOVE. I think the lyrics to Bethel Music’s “Reckless Love,” are amazing and accurate:
“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”
In 1 John 4: 8-10 the writer strongly suggests that “8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” To me, the claim that “God is love” is profound and filled with meaning. On the surface, one could wonder if that means that all “love” is of God. If that’s true then what about those feelings we think is love that might not be good. Infatuation and lust, are those of God?
I don’t think we can adequately understand the depth of the statement; “God is love” without first having a clear understanding of the context of that phrase.
Saint John was making a point about how God’s essence of love rubs off on everyone who really knows him. Therefore, someone who is unloving obviously does not know God because if you have been in a relationship with God for even a moment you have experienced the reality of his great love!
If God could be defined, love would be his definition. Love is the foundation of his every motivation and the intent of his every move. With God, everything begins with love. For those who struggle to see God as anyone other than a kid with a magnifying glass it would be good to start with the awareness that God limits himself to be incapable of not loving us. The reason why we have air to breathe is solely due to God’s love. The food we eat, the water we drink, the place we sleep, the people we love are all offshoots of God’s love for us. Asking God not to love would be like asking a fish not to swim or a bird not to fly. Thinking of God as a judgmental tyrant, dominating dictator, or unloving, uncaring Lord is a complete misunderstanding of the nature of God.
If God could be defined, love would be his definition because God is love. What defines you? When asked about yourself how do you initially respond? Do you start by saying what you do? “I am a pastor” or “I work in construction” are examples. Others define themselves by family connections, “I’m John Smith’s son” or “I’m Sarah’s little sister.” Some define themselves by when they were born. Sociology teaches us that baby boomers act one way and millennials another.
For God, loving is not only something he does. Loving is a part of who God is.
He never allows himself to stop loving you. No matter what you do, how often you disobey him, even if you don’t love him back, God will always love you! It’s almost as if God is singing the lyrics of Dolly Parton’s song, made famous by the one and only, Whitney Houston; “I Will Always Love You.” There is absolutely nothing you can do to stop God’s love. It is steadfast, immovable, constant, persevering, patient, strong, dependable, awesome, and powerful!
Those who are in a relationship with God pick up on his love DNA. The writer of 1 John 4 states in verse 8 that “The one who does not love does not know God.” To know God involves being in a relationship with him and everyone connected to God is greatly affected and impacted by his wonderful love. His love will influence you when you are connected to him.
When the girls were little I noticed them saying; “um” a lot between sentences and even between words sometimes. I encouraged them to stop doing that. It wasn’t long after that mild correction that I was listening to myself in a family video and noticed that between sentences I often say; “um.” No doubt, the reason why my daughters were overly using “um” was because they had heard dad use “um” a lot when he talked. The point is – While in a relationship with God our Father His Love will rub off on you. To Know God is to Know his Love and the best way to know his love is to know his son
The greatest display of God’s love is when he offered his son’s life for our lives.
Saint John, in 1 John 4:9 wrote; “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him.” I believe this verse says a lot about the Love of God and about love in general. God’s love is not always obvious is it? It isn’t always visible. There are times I may question that God loves me because I don’t feel it, I don’t see it, I cannot smell it….you get the picture. For all of you who do not wear your feelings on your sleeves, here’s one for you. It is a godly trait. God is not always touchy-feeling. Once I entitled a sermon; “God is good but he isn’t always nice.” He is not quick to oblige our desire for pity or sympathy.
Although God doesn’t cater to whining he is willing to give to us the best part of himself. I consider my children to be the best part of me. Tony Stark’s dad, in the movie; “Iron Man,” said to him in the video Nick Fury told him to watch; “You will always be my greatest achievement.” I feel that way about my children and I assume God feels similarly considering his personal sacrifice in laying his son’s life down for the forgiveness of our sins.
Giving away the best part of you is a demonstration of true and sincere love.
Even if the world does not accept God’s love the world will know God loves them because of the fact that he gave up his son. God actually placed humanity ahead of his son. He prioritized people. The Bible affirms that “God sent his one and only son into the world so that we might live through him.” (John 3:16) That is an obvious expression of love whether or not you accept Christ.
There are many who reject the God of the Bible and refuse to accept the truth of the Gospel and the offering of his son, Jesus Christ, but few are willing to reject unconditional love. The Beatles made a song famous called; “All you need is love.” That may be a common sentiment but I believe a bit differently. In my opinion, all you really need is to BE loved. 1 John 4:10 reminds us that “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Many find it difficult to love and that may be a stumbling block for them in their decision to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But my final message to the world in this series; Faith, Hope, Love, is that you don’t have to LOVE God to start the process of getting to know him. He LOVED you first and that started the process!
Rev. Wiley Hughes
D.Min., Psy.D., FBPPC, LPCA, NCC
Apostolic Leader of Destiny Now