“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he so loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4: 9-12
The call to love is simple, but the act of loving people is hard. If it were easy we wouldn’t need to hear about it. Knowing it’s not easy, Jesus talked about it often. Love – it’s Gospel 101. As followers of Jesus, we are called to love God and to love others. So how do we do it? How do we live out this call to love? If you are struggling to love those in your life, what can you do?
First, recognize the source. The power to live out this call to love comes from the love God has shown us through Christ. It’s because we’ve been unconditionally loved first, that we are empowered to love others. Don’t miss this – Misunderstanding this foundational Gospel truth has led many people to burnout and frustration with religion.
Second, the call to love others is not about earning the love of God, rather revealing the love of God we have received. The apostle John says to look to Jesus. Jesus is the manifestation, the revealed picture of God’s love for us. God’s love is NOT portioned out based upon what we do for Him. It’s NOT revealed based upon our performance. It’s all about what God has already done for us. So, my efforts to love my neighbors, colleagues, friends or family is not in hopes of finally experiencing God’s love, but in hopes that they see this love and grace He has given to me. We love because He first loved us!
Are you striving to love others out of a desire to be loved, OR out of a desire to reflect love you have received? If you’re looking for fulfilling love from others, you will only be let down. It’s the unconditional, unending, undeserved love found in Christ alone that truly satisfies. The more we understand this kind of love, the more God empowers us to love others – even those hardest to love.
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor,George Wright,
Shandon Baptist Church, SC