The word (and maybe the concept of) “love” has been hijacked in our culture. One might say, “I love pizza,” or “I love the Saints.” You could claim love for your pet, a car, or even an idea. So what does it say to us when we read:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2 (NIV)
Do these words hit the same chord with us as that did with the Ephesian church? As you may know there were three words for love in the New Testament, and the word Paul writes here is the most intense of them. It is the same word used to describe God’s love for us. It is an abiding, all-powerful, unconditional love. It is the love that was exemplified by Jesus.
If we are to live in this love we should necessarily strive to see it at it’s finest, and that is in life of Jesus. The Bible says, “Greater love has no man than He would lay His life down for his friends.” Jesus painted with broad and bold strokes the picture that we are called to follow. I recently read of a mother trying to carefully explain to her young son about the love of God. He was inquisitive about the Lord and his work, and he asked his mother, “How can I know God if I can’t see Him?”
The mother asked her son, “You know your Daddy, don’t you?”
“Yes,” came his reply.
“And, if you were blind, would you still know him?”
You’d know what Daddy is like by the things he says, wouldn’t you?" He nodded again.
“And we know what God is like, too, by the things He says in His Word. And you’d know that Daddy loves you, because he would tell you so & do everything he could for you. That’s how we know God loves us, too. He tells us so, & He has given us so much to help us have a wonderful life. But most of all, He gave us Jesus to take away our sins & to show us what God is really like. And even though you couldn’t see Daddy—if you were blind—you could hear his voice & feel when he is near. And in the same way, through Jesus we can hear God’s voice & feel Him near, too. That’s why, even though we can’t see God, we can be very certain what He is like."
Finally the little fellow exclaimed, "I know," he exclaimed, "We don’t see God outside. We see Him inside."
There is a lot of truth in that conversation. We need to know God’s love before we can truly love others.
Secondly, we need to express that love to others. This may take on many forms as it did with Jesus. He loved the “untouchables” of the culture. He welcomed the despised and the common and rich and the powerful all on equal footing. He prayed for those who walked with Him and for those that rejected Him. He spoke encouragement to the down trodden, and rebuked His closest friends when they stumbled into sin.
The Lord loves us at our weakest and our best, because he loves us unconditionally. One way the culture has hijacked love is summed up in the buzzword “tolerance.” We need to understand that the love of Jesus makes us accountable. One of the most dangerous teachings that Paul faced and that we still face today, is apathy toward sin.
Recently, a wanted criminal called his sister for help. He had been on the run for days, now the police had him in hiding and he needed help. The sister was torn, she loved her brother, she didn’t want him to be harmed, but she knew what he had done. Out of love for him, she called the police exactly where he was. Some might scoff at that and call it betrayal, but this woman knew that her brother was going to end up dead if she did not take action.
How many of us, if our children were drowning, would casually mention there need to swim, and hope that they found a life vest? Hopefully no one reading this could be so cold. Yet that is exactly what we do everyday and call it love. We tolerate the sin of those we love to avoid confrontation, to avoid conflict. Meanwhile, they are drowning in there sin.
Friends, if we are to “live a life of love,” we must jump in and share the love of Jesus with all those who need it.