Shouts and whispers of LOVE have been swirling around from every direction recently… perhaps your ears have pricked up and heard them too?
“ Love wins!” “It’s all about love!” “Love is all that matters!”
”Love conquers all!”
At the same time, my husband and I have begun to celebrate as our 30th wedding anniversary approaches. So I guess thoughts about LOVE are on my mind more than usual right now 🙂
Messages of LOVE, or the lack of it, are everywhere and sometimes it is hard to discern and define true LOVE when everyone seems to have a differing opinion.
As a human being, I have a deep desire to receive and give LOVE. As a follower of Jesus, I have been commanded to LOVE…
“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 command. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Great idea! Trouble is, I can’t live up to these commands on my own. When I try to, I make a mess of it.
What happens when we try to love God, others and ourselves with love we conjure up ourselves?
*When we try to love God with our own love, we end up living in one of two extreme places… the land of ‘legalistic religion’ or the realm of ‘anything goes’.
*When we attempt to love others with our own love, we tend to either idolize them or neglect (or even abuse) them in the end.
*When we seek to love ourselves with our own love, we become either self-inflated and obsessed or self-abated and dejected.
So in the process of learning about LOVE, I have discovered that I cannot LOVE properly on my own without first receiving LOVE. Here is another way to put it…
In order to have the capacity to LOVE, we must first BE-LOVED!
John, the BE-LOVED disciple, says it this way in his letter to the early followers of Jesus… “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
We have been given an impossible command to LOVE by God. Yet He, Himself, has supplied us with the power to fulfil His command to LOVE. Paul says in Romans 5: 5 that God has poured His love into the hearts of every believer In Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Friends, please read that again and let it sink in!
Sentimental love is spreading like wildfire in our world. It sounds good. It feels good. But sadly, most of us have discovered it only lasts for a while. In the end, sentimental love can leave us emptier than before we devoured it – and with a bitter taste in our mouths and spirits.
The authentic LOVE that we are actually craving for and need more than life itself is the sacrificial, sacred, selfless LOVE of God as given to us in Jesus Christ! Not a feeling based, temporary LOVE, but a factually based eternal LOVE that is constantly acting graciously toward freedom!
REAL LOVE is not sentimental selfishness – it is sacrificial selflessness!
John the Beloved also says in 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.”
This first LOVE is what I am going to build my life on from now on. All other loves are secondary. I am going to keep going to the cross of Christ and keep opening up my heart to receive His first, agape, unconditional, selfless LOVE and then keep my heart soft and open so that this LOVE can flow back to HIm and others. I will also be able to LOVE myself with His LOVE!
So what can we do to further grasp the wonder that we are the BE-LOVED of God?
Pray: “God, You are LOVE! Help me to receive the LOVE You offer in Jesus, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.”
Believe and Receive: Jesus is the BE-LOVED Son of God. John, His BE-LOVED disciple tells us that we are God’s children too! (1 John 3:1)
TO BE-LOVED BY GOD IS OUR SECURITY AND OUR IDENTITY!
Fill: your life with Scripture and meditate on God’s word of truth to you! (The Gospel and letters of John the BE-LOVED are a great place to start!)
Soak: Make sure you take plenty of time to saturate your life with God’s LOVE in this busy world. That means taking time to stop!
Listen: We learn from others who have gone before us. Do you have someone in your life that is secure in the love of God? Perhaps you could ask them to mentor you! If not, ask God for this blessing and keep your ears open to hear and discern good voices that will build His love in your life.
One mentor that I look forward to meeting one day is Henri Nouwen. My pastor gave me his book, Life of the Beloved, sometime after Bethany went Home. It was a soul-searching time where the enemy of my soul would have me believe that God’s love is fickle and conditional. Life of the Beloved comes highly recommended and has been a significant source of healing and direction in my life. Here are a couple of nuggets of wisdom to tease you into wanting more…
“ Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make.”
“Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation.”
Resolve: Like Jesus, like John, like Henri and the Psalmists of old, let us resolve to build our life on the never-ending LOVE of God. It is too hard to do on our own but thankfully we are not alone!
“And so, we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16
A modern Psalm to encourage you…
“I WILL BUILD MY LIFE UPON YOUR LOVE IT IS A FIRM FOUNDATION AND I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN YOU ALONE AND I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!”
Build My Life by Housefires https://youtu.be/4W-St_nxyFc