A COMMUNITY THAT LOVES GOD
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37–40
The greatest commandments: Love God. Love people. Easy, right?
Love has a context. Unless you understand that context, you cannot possibly do what the above passage says accurately. Anything out of context can get very twisted and misapplied very quickly. The spirit of the age, the lost in the world, and the media pundits have a context in which they desire to cast the love of God. There are many who rebel against God or simply live for themselves as a “Christian”, yet act as if they are experts on what godly love should look like coming from the people of God. They want an unconditional love that allows them to do whatever they want without regard to God’s will. But this is not the context of God’s love as revealed in Christ or His word.
While all disciples of Christ know that we need to love God and love people, not all understand the full context that we are called to manifest that love. The framework for love can be found in these simple statements:
Live in faith. Live obedient. Live eternally focused.
“What will bring You the most pleasure?” is the continual question in prayer of the one who wants to love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.
LOVE & FAITH
For starters, to please God, we need faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith is is IMPOSSIBLE to please God…”
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6
This is simply saying that the works of the Law will not help us in pleasing God. What pleases Him is our faith, confidence, or trust in who He is, what He has done for us and given us through Jesus Christ, what He has said about us being His sons and daughters, and the obedience we give His commandments as a result of that trust.
What does it mean when the writer says, “faith working through love?”
When I was younger in the Lord, I thought it was my love that it is referencing. However, I have come to believe that MY faith works through the revelation of God’s love for me. Let me say it differently. We can only trust or believe anyone including God to the degree that we believe they have our best interest in mind. When I believe God’s heart for me is love and His will is coming through His eternal wisdom, why would I not trust Him?
So in order for us to live in a way that pleases God, we foundationally MUST believe the love God has for us. Without it, we will try to earn His love through keeping commandments, instead of keeping commandments as a RESPONSE to His love given to us through Christ.
Which leads to the next thought…
LOVE & OBEDIENCE
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” John 14:21
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” John 14:23-24
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:3-4
If you read the above sets of the words of our Lord Christ, it is inescapable that those who love God obey God. Or at least they are sincere in their pursuit of obedience to Him, though they fail at times.
It can seem upon first reading also that we are trying to PROVE our love to God or EARNING His love for us.
Again, I want to say again what I said in the previous section. Once we believe the love that God has for us, then our love manifested through obedience is simply a RESPONSE to God’s love for us. It is all connected to what we BELIEVE about His commandments. If I believe His commandments are wise and caring, then doing them is simply not a burden compared to not doing them.
LOVE & ETERNITY
When God ministers His love to each of us, He ALWAYS does that through the lens of eternity.
For example, he says in Revelation 3:19 speaking to a lukewarm church, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Again in Hebrews 12 He says, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
Why would He do that? What is the point in rebuking us, and disciplining us?
Hebrews 12:10-11 answers the question… “but He (God) for our profit that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
In other words, He disciplines us in love, because for all ETERNITY, He want us to be with Him and participate in His divine nature. His discipline is to conform us to the likeness of Christ. He is raising us to be like our “Dad” in Heaven. He is helping us grow to maturity.
I know as a father raising children, I am SOOO impressed when my child receives correction with humility, is teachable, and will even thank me for it. Now, in the moment of correction, they may not like it so much. Who does? But it is the wise person who considers what correction is being given from God and sees it as His kind kiss upon their life.
I don’t want God to let me do whatever I want. I want Him to teach me how to please Him in Christ, how to worship Him by a lifestyle of obedience, and to further conform me to His holy nature.
I want to see:
- a church that loves the reality of God’s love whether He is encouraging us or correcting us;
- a church that sees God’s every thought about us flowing from His goodness and wisdom;
- a church that sees obedience to His word as the only real response to His love for us;
- a church that is SATURATED in the revelation of how much He loves us as we are;
- and because he loves us as we are already, a church that understands He is not content to leave us as we are, but will finish what He started by perfecting us in love.
- a church that desires to respond His whole-hearted love for us with whole-hearted, simple, pure devoted love for God.
Until next time…
Be blessed in the knowledge of His love for you today!