I John 4:7-8 (NLT)
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.
Love one another. It is considered to be the greatest commandment. One might think it would be the easiest commodity to procure. Cultivated in our heart for the world around us, it should be a natural and overwhelming response to the love of God and grace that is received. However, as the Word of God indicated so long ago we live in the day when love has grown cold and sin is rampant. Sin seeks to destroy love and thrives on selfishness. It disconnects us from the Source of Love to be driven by personal fleshly desires that cry out for self-satisfaction and personal interests. The spring of hopeful love called the church is slowly drying up. It no longer overflows with the love and generosity that is its potential. It has become a cold, dry wasteland of souls with a few lukewarm believers keeping it going. I am equally to blame.
Anyone who loves is a child of God. The parameters of our love define the length of our endurance. Those who endure in love will make it to the end and receive the prize of faith for love leads the way to such a finish line. Love is a commitment. It is an investment in other people’s lives that are different, messy and often very broken. Like an invisible spider web across our path in blindness stepping in it and then fighting to get out of it, many times wondering what have I gotten myself into? I wonder if God ever asks that question. I think Jesus must silently think about it, too. The commandment that is first and foremost is the most uncomfortable and challenging of all – love one another. Not as we decide to love but as Christ loved us. Lord, help me. I may be in a bit of trouble here.
John 13:34-38 (NLT)
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
I have written of the tiny army of crumb snatchers that follow us around for fruit snacks after each service. We created these little gummy monsters and love them all. Our sweet God-Grandbaby, Alyssa, went through a phase where she was less than thrilled about my husband for some unknown reason so one day I stuck a snack in my purse to try to entice her to talk to him. It worked and after each service she now sits and talks with him. Well, it wasn’t long before some of the other little ones caught on. Now I almost have to bring enough for a kindergarten class as each sweet angelic face comes to see if we have hidden snacks away for them. The ripple effect has produced a large flock of followers. This is reminiscent of how love grows. In the beginning, it is small but has the potential to grow bigger over time. The world is looking for love. Jesus has given us love to meet the needs of others the very same way. They don’t need a condemning God or overbearing Lord they have that already as the flesh is a ceaseless taskmaster and the enemy a slave driver of the human heart. But until we learn to walk in the Love of Jesus – we cannot go where He is.
Ooh! I hear you over there bristling in your seat. That is simply not true you are thinking. Jesus saved me. I am going to Heaven. True. Everyone will go to Heaven one day… but not everyone will stay. Our life must resemble the acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord not just pay lip service to our King. Religion doesn’t get you in because there is nothing God needs us to do. There is only one obligation in our life that is to love. When Peter told Jesus on His Way to the Cross, I will follow you even to the death. Jesus set him straight in that moment which has resonated through time to do the same for me. Die for me? Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny me three times? Ouch! Let me say it again, ouch! How many times a day do we say, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You may call me” but ignore His Call to love before we leave our house each morning. How many times do we ask Him to “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the Presence of My Savior…” only to ignore and abuse those we encounter in each day. We are saying all the right things to God. We are asking for noble and honorable things of our Lord. Are we doing what He said we should do to accomplish such feats? He has called us to love others. Have we denied Jesus multiple times in our inability to show love and grace to others?
Romans 13:8-9 (NLT)
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
God’s Love for us became evident in the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus to die for our sins. Life became possible again when He arose three days later opening the door to forever again and handing us the Keys to the Kingdom. We do not owe this world anything. We do not owe God anything. Sin is sin. One sin no greater than another no matter what we may want to think. If you break one, you have broken them all. Think about it. You don’t have to break every law in the book to end up in jail. Just one felony can take years from your life. Pride wants us to compare our sin to others. It wants to somehow make us more worthy of God’s Love than another. Not true. I love my children equally but some choose to have a closer relationship with me than others. This does not change how much I love them at all. God loves you and He loves me along with every other person who we come in contact with in this life. We are obligated to love one another. This is the greatest commandment and a summation of all commandments that tell us to love others as much as we do ourselves. Owe no one anything but love. Think about it this way. By acknowledging God’s Love and asking Jesus to be our Savior – we were freed from the penalty of sin to step into our role as Children of God. We decide how close our relationship is to Him each day by either walking in His Love or going our own way. To follow Jesus Christ is to make Him our Lord and He always leads us with love to love. It is all about love. Just as the time and energy I put into a natural relationship is reflected in intimacy so is our relationship with the Lord. When we say we want to go deeper, we are accepting the challenge to love. Love overcomes a multitude of sin. It humbles us to accept others because we know to whom much is given (salvation) must is required (to love) as it is our only obligation.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Our ability to love and accept others right where they are no matter how they may act is a direct correlation of the faith that we have and hope we hold on to. Wait a minute. What? Our service in life is to love others first and foremost. It is the greatest commandment. The driving force of every choice we make concerning another person should be our obligation to love them. I feel like Peter today crying in the early awakenings of dawn at the revelation that sometimes my actions and attitudes toward others has completely denied my commitment to Jesus Christ. I do not always treat others as He has instructed me to out of love. Comparison demands a choice. It is a love killer. Offense is a barrier that keeps love from seeping through. Bitterness is a root that chokes out potential and restricts the overflow of love that can come through forgiveness as we have been forgiven. I want to live as close to Jesus Christ as possible. The one thing I desire is to live in the Presence of God. I want to be filled to overflowing with His Spirit day by day. I must love others to be in a true abiding relationship with Jesus. I will never go beyond the borders of my faith to trust Him but remain landlocked on the shore when my heart refuses to break for other people. Only then can I truly walk on waters and follow Jesus all the way home.
I John 4:11-18 (NLT)
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 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. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 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. 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. 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.
Lord…Let me express Your Love to the world and everyone in it all day every day for the rest of my life! May I live obligated to Your Love!