To Love As God Loves (part 2)

“Just as the Father loved me, I also loved you. Remain within the sphere of the love which is mine. If my commandments you keep, you will remain within the sphere of my love, just as I have kept the commandments of my Father and am remaining within the sphere of His love. These things have I spoken to you that the joy which is mine may be in you, and that your joy may be filled full. This is the commandment which is mine, namely, that you should be loving one another with a divine and self-sacrificial love just as I have loved you.” (John 15:8-12) Wuest's ExpandedTranslation

 

Love is a COMMAND. But to love the way Jesus commanded His disciples (and us) to love is not with human love but with God's love that the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts when we became believers. It takes time to come to an understanding of just how different this love is from the love we know and experience but it is necessary to living the Christian life. Without it we are useless to God. He tells us so in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. We can't live a victorious Christian life by expecting to fulfill Christ's command with a worldly love. It is self-defeating.

God's love “suffers long and is kind; love that does not envy, love that does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” and is in direct conflict with human love which is a self-serving love. Pastors and psychologists who preach and counsel that the Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, therefore we need to learn to love ourselves before we can love others are abusing Scripture! We don't need to learn to love ourselves, it comes naturally. What is behind the pride, greed, cruelty, lies, lust and disregard for human life that is all around us? (Read James 4:1-3)

Ever since sin entered the Garden of Eden self-love has been at the heart of man's nature. And way before that Satan, the most beautiful angelic being God created, rebelled against his Creator. Why? He loved himself and wanted to be in charge! And like him it is mankind's love of self that craves pleasure, power and possessions, that demands his rights, and rebels at the thought there is Someone bigger and more powerful who is in control of this world.

The $64,000 question is; “How can we love the way Jesus did? Did you know that if you take a steel nail and put it next to a magnet and leave it there and after a time take the nail away from the magnet that the steel will be magnetized? Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the vine and we are the branches and if we abide in Him we will bring forth fruit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control). The closer we stay to Jesus and learn of Him the more like Jesus we will become. It is only God's love that can transform us by the renewing of our minds. As we experience that love our love for Him grows as does our desire to love others as He loved us. In eternity past God made the CHOICE to love and when Jesus came to earth He chose to love knowing it meant a cross.

Every morning from the time we open our eyes to the time we close them at night we make choices that reflect self- love or God's love. The early Christians were known in the Roman Empire for a love that was like nothing the pagan world knew. It sets Christianity apart from all other religions because it is a sacrificial love. It is the hallmark of those who take living for Christ seriously. Philippians 1:20,21

Before he was bound with chains and burned at the stake on July 6, 1415 for preaching that the Bible alone was our authority, John Hus wrote this prayer to friends: “...GIVE ME A FEARLESS HEART, A RIGHT FAITH, A FIRM HOPE, A PERFECT LOVE, that for Thy sake I may lay down my life with patience and joy. Amen” This prayer can be for those living for Christ as well as those dying for Him.

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