|April 23, 2007|
Love is an act of your will
by Jon Walker
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV)
Fellowship — Love is an act of your will.
That may fly in the face of falling in love, or your notions of romance in the moonlight. Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of room for romance in God’s world, but it pales in comparison to how the Great Lover sacrificed to bring you into oneness with him.
That Great Lover, God Almighty, says we must choose to love one another. We’re to love other believers regardless of how we feel about them or how unlovable they may appear.
No matter how difficult it may seem, we’re to actively, consistently, and deeply love the believers God brings into our lives, our congregations – and our Bible studies.
Love is a command; our decision to love is an act of obedience. God considers loving one another so important that he told us we must do it. (1 John 4:21) It is a lesson so important that the Apostle John consistently describes love and obedience as synonymous: If you love Jesus, you will obey his commands. (John 14:15, 23-24; 15:12, 14, 17; 1 John 2:3; 5:3; 2 John 1:6)
Why is obeying connected with love? Because it reflects unity among believers, a oneness of spirit that is foundational to our union with God, a necessary element of all true and anointed kingdom work: “The message you heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another.” (1 John 3:11 TEV)
Christ crushes the myth that love is based on feelings. He pushes the definition of love to a higher level – where behavior and beliefs combine into godly action. Love is no longer a schoolyard romance or a relationship dictated by compatibility. Rather, real love is – and has always been – a mother stumbling to her baby’s crib for the fifth time in one night, or a passenger giving up his place on a lifeboat to save someone else from a sinking ship. Love is Christ on a cross, dying for us – even while we were still lost in our sins. (Romans 5:8)
Jesus requires us to view other people as highly valued children of God, well worth of our time, attention, and energy. As members of God’s family, we must choose to love, not selectively choose who to love.
Love requires community. We cannot obey Christ’s command in isolation. We must be connected to other believers in order to “love one another.” Being in community with other Christians forces us to drop our “relationship fantasies,” where everyone we know is easy to get along with and every conflict is resolved in happy compromise.
God shaped each one of us differently, and he knows we all bring different perspectives and needs into any community. The hurts, habits, and hang-ups present in any group of believers create potential for conflict, but God’s design is to use that conflict to help us grow in Christ.
· Love carries high standards – Jesus says we are to be to one another what he is to us. The love of Christ is selfless, sacrificial, and submitted to the Father’s will. His standard of love is personal, reaching out to the undeserving, looking past their faults and into the desperate needs of their hearts. Relying on God’s grace, begin moving toward that standard.
· You cannot meet the standard – God’s standard is so staggering we can reach it only by relying on the spirit of Christ within us. To paraphrase Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer just I who loves, but Christ who loves in me. And this unlovable person that I now love, I love by the faith of the son of God, who loved this unlovable one first and gave himself up for this person I incorrectly see as undeserving of my love.”
· Love is more than the minimum – Our love is not to be measured by the minimum of what we can do, nor is it to be limited only to those who appear deserving. Our standard for real love is that God “… loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins … since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” (1 John 4:10-11 NLT) How would your relationships with other believers change if you began to love them with the standard of Christ?
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.