The story goes that a girl wrote a letter to her former beau.
"Dearest Tommy, no words could ever express the great unhappiness I've felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me! I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you ! Yours forever, Marie. P.S. – And congratulations on winning the state lottery!"
Isn't that the way the world looks at love? I will love you if you are loving to me. I will care for you only if you care for me.
All of us have had the experience of a break up whether it was with a high school sweetheart or a failed marriage. Even if someone never told us the expression "I don't love you anymore," it was felt, and it was real.
When we come to God , we might suspect he will fall out of love with us, but nothing could be further from the truth. When we see God for who he really is, what he really is, then our love for him may often fall short of his love for us.
Why? Because his love has a beginning but no end – not ever. Christ chose to love us all, and as Wayne Hudson writes, "We should be very careful with a word like love. Are we willing to make that kind of commitment?"
Around the time of the year when Cupid shoots his love arrows, we must look to a higher kind of love. In I John 4:7-8, John has just been defending the faith and fresh from that he exhorts his readers to "brotherly love." John spends much of his time talking about the source of love.
I John 3:16-18 says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
It's easy to say I love you, but let there be a slight in the church or someone speak ill of you. And it is harder to love them. John commands brotherly love and charity because it is a divine thing to show to someone. We're more like God when we love, especially when we love those who are acting less than lovable. And so John tells us in I John 4:7-8, "Dear friends let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
Author Jack Wellman writes, "The opposite of love is indifference. If we are to teach on the love of God, we should focus more on what God does than what God feels. It was God's love that cost Jesus his life and that must be acknowledged with the express desire that we will ‘love one another just as Christ loved us.’”
If God loved us so much that he allowed his son to die for us, what have we endured that keeps us from showing the same love to others? We haven't hung on a cross yet and that's for sure!
When John tells us "God is love," it is a simple sentence with a very powerful meaning. God is many things, including but not limited to, holy, righteous, wise, gentle, kind, forgiving and just, but they are all in the abstract until they are encompassed by his greatest quality which is love. When I recently preached on this topic, a dear lady in our church shook my hand, smiled and said, "Do you really love me like that?"
I laughed and said, "That and even more."
But later I got to thinking if there was anyone outside of my immediate family that I would willingly die for? And yet this is the sacrificial love that Christ calls us to. In the Old Testament God made deals with people, challenging them to follow him, to live in a certain way and obey his laws in order to be blessed.
In the New Testament, we see a God who runs down a dusty road to embrace and kiss a son that he thought was dead in his sins, who would have waited a lifetime for him to return to the father, who kills the fated calf and puts a great robe and a big ring on his finger and welcomes him back despite all the money, time, and youth he had wasted in a wild life of sin. That's real love.
As Frank Crane writes, “Love is not really blind. Love is the only thing that sees."
May we all come to see with the love that is in the eyes of God.