Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8
The subject of God's love in our world, and in particular within our church families, has become an increasing burden on my heart recently.
In the world, I would expect to find a significant lack of love, because its kind of love is not the same as God's love, and is often misunderstood even in its own worldly context, because there is a huge hunger for love, and people seek it in so many inferior ways, even to the point that abusive sexual relationships can be misinterpreted by a victim who knows no other form of love, as being the best they can find, even real love.
I'm not about to expound on the lack of love in the world for the purpose of this article, however, although in fact there are people of the world, who have no faith in God, who express some of the best worldly love one could ever hope to find, because they just love to love people, and have so much love to give. Sadly, these are the exception rather than the rule, and equally sadly they often have no clue that this is a Godly gift they possess.
What I want to talk about here is a significant "missing ingredient" within some of the Christian churches of today. We talk about being Family. We talk about the things we need to do to help one another, to esteem one another and build one another up as if they were our own kin. And we talk about these things directly in the light of God's Agape love, which is totally unconditional and relentlessly constant in spite of our own shortcomings.
I have been in situations where the anomaly between what we are taught and what is expected of us, compared to that which actually happens is far too great to ignore.
Let me tell you something important:
- You have the power to make or break another.
- You have the power to change the way a person feels for the rest of the day, and even for the rest of their life.
- You have the power to make someone feel happy, or feel desperate.
- You have the power to change someone's circumstances for the better or for the worst.
- You have the power to build up or to smash down.
- You have the power to create something good or you can simply destroy..
By any of the following:
- your attitude,
- your body language,
- the way you look at someone,
- whether or not you greet another when you see them,
- whether you look them in the eye or just avert your gaze,
- whether of not you make the other person feel that they matter,
- whether you include another person in your conversation when your best friend is with you..
Do you communicate?
Or do you just let someone find out, often too late, that they are or aren't supposed to be joining you in an activity?
When you don't have the news to tell another that you know they would like to hear, do you just ignore them and hope it "will go away", or do you communicate, with regret, the decision that has been made - at least so that they know that you cared enough to tell them?
Think about it! Is this how you yourself would like to be treated? Or maybe this is indeed the way you are used to being treated and so it doesn't occur to you that it would be of any consequence to someone else? - But think again... Should this remain the status quo? Can you perhaps start to change that? Remember, you have this horrendously awesome power...
But as Christians, born again of the Spirit of God, we have a greater power still - we have God's power within us! We are His ambassadors in a fallen world! As born again Christians, we are In Christ Jesus, meaning that we are "in Him" and He is "in us".
Let's look at the attributes of love, and for this passage, try putting God's Name in the place of Love, then try putting your own name in place of Love and see how you measure up...
Love is patient,
Love is kind.
Love does not envy,
Love does not boast,
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonor others,
Love is not self-seeking,
Love is not easily angered,
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects,
Love always trusts,
Love always hopes,
Love always perseveres.
Love never fails.
(Taken from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)
Verse 13 tells us "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
Let us strive not to be clanging symbols in the things we say or do, but instead, let us build one another up in God's amazing love.
NOTE: I am equally to blame for many of the things I've cited above, because worldly love in my own life has also been imperfect and I have been damaged by circumstances of life. I know God forgives every one of us for our shortcomings, because His love is too great to prevent Him from doing so. I hope those whom I have undoubtedly hurt in my life's journey can also find it in their hearts to forgive me. I have been blessed to know first-hand the very depth of God's love, just for fleeting moments. I pray this will become more and more of a daily reality and thus something I can also share with others.