Love isn’t a feeling- it’s a choice. What is love? God is love. Every time we chose not to show love we choose to not express the nature of God.
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Contrary to many ideologies, we live because God allows enables us to. We are literally powered by Him-think cells in a body.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
We are the planets and He is the sun-we revolve around Him. If we draw close to Him we are wrapped in his warmth, if draw away we are shrouded in darkness. And if we disobey Him? We are scolded because as you may have heard-the lord is a consuming fire.
Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
The Lord however disciplines out of love. Just as a parent disciplines a child in order to set them on a path that is not destructive, so God disciplines His children to ensure their uprightness.
Hebrews 12:6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
I remember I upset my parents once and they took out the bible to pick out a scripture that spoke about children being wise and not giving their parents hassle. I got the jist of it but a lot of it flew over my head, probably because of the setting, it’s hard to see the good intention of discipline when you’re the one being disciplined. I’m a young man now, and I have a younger sibling who I’m constantly correcting and I get it now. Not to say I didn’t before but it’s so much easier to put myself in the shoes of my mum and dad-they just wanted the best, the very best for me. I feel the same way about my brother. I correct him from a place of deep love. God feels the same way about us. He wants the very best for us and has incredible plans for us!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
When He sees us going astray and into danger He reacts as a loving parent would. God, afterall is ‘our father’. But another metaphor that has been used is God being the faithful husband and his people the treasured wife. This metaphor was poignant because it harked back to the covenant God had made with the children of Israel i.e. Jacob. Jacobs’s descendants had grown and prospered in Egypt where they had settled thanks to Joseph, Jacob’s son. The Egyptians had seen what was happening, how this people were growing and they decided to suppress them for the preservation of Egypt. Israel was a slave for 400 years until God rescued them mightily using Moses and Aaron as his implements of deliverance. God then proceeded to make a covenant with his people, but Israel sullied this covenant again and again and again for centuries, through the ages of the Exodus, Judges, and Kings. God however, still appeals to his people out of love.
Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion.
God went as far as making Hosea, one of His prophets a living metaphor of the pain He was going through. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea married her out of love not just out of a prerequisite to obey the Lord. So you can therefore imagine the pain Hosea felt when despite being redeemed and tidied up by Hosea, Gomer his wife, would go back to her ‘old job’ just as Israel kept falling back into their ‘old ways’. It was heart-rending for Hosea, perpetually heart-broken and it was a vivid way for God to translate to Hosea and Israel exactly how He was feeling about their decision to be unfaithful and reciprocate the affection He had shown them. But Hosea still wasn’t going to give up Gomer! And God? God was not going to give up on Israel.
How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
God doesn’t forsake Israel in the end, God being the template of what perfect love is He instead declares His love despite not getting the affection He deserves. In an age where many have divorced because of the pain that infidelity causes it’s incredible to see that God still keeps Israel and doesn’t cast them aside and be done with them and find Himself a new people, a new wife. That’s love-perfect love.
Israel, I will make you my wife forever. I will be honest and faithful to you. I will show you my love and compassion.
God is a big softie, firm but fair and extremely dedicated. He is the perfect example of what love is. He makes good on all of His promises. If He was human you’d say He was ‘a man of His word’. Which is hilarious because He literally is the word.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the perfect representation of the father’s love. Jesus is God’s love wrapped in humanity, His very essence clothed in our humble dust but still possessing the divine to intercede where we struggled and ultimately save us. If you’re under any illusions as to whether Jesus achieved this by dying and being risen back to life you need look no further than the following scripture.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Jesus is the greatest testament to why we a part of the human race need a revision of what we think love is. For the most part we only seem to love those whole we are obliged to love, friends, family and associates and maybe our football team at best. It’s a huge generalisation to say everyone is like this, there are some people who love outside of their social circle and are concerned about international issues because it affects innocents across the world, people like us trying to make a living in the world but actually we’re not living if we’re not loving. We could all really be loving so much more. Jesus points out our sluggish inactivity.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Being the word become flesh, Jesus is ‘naturally’ eloquent, I’d say it’s part of his job description but Jesus wasn’t all words and no action-He lived what he preached with such passion and vividness that it was striking and provoking, he loved the unloved, dined with the scorned and was often found amongst the sick. What are we supposed to be doing today? Living in an arresting way, making our every breath matter, not waiting until our lives are being threatened or in peril of dissipating before we appreciate it and all the others around us. When asked which of the last were greatest, Jesus replies with a sum total of this Sermon.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love God then love people. We love out of the foundation God laid for us because He loved us first. We can’t truly claim to love God unless we back that up by loving the people whom God created and surrounded us with.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
Love isn’t lust, a derivative of the greek Eros definition but rather it’s selfless-Agape- ‘unconditional love’. No one warrants the love of God, all have fallen short of the glory of God and in fact we often fail each other and yet God is enduring. Let us love the way the father loves, wholly, powerfully and unconditionally.