8.28.13 "Love is not a Suggestion"

Today’s Scripture is:  1 John 4: 10-12 (NIRV)                     

10 What is love? It is not that we loved God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins.  11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we should also love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us. His love is made complete in us.

When I think of the magnitude of love it took for Jesus to die for me and the magnitude of love it took for God to send Jesus to die for all of us…. I feel so convicted about anything I’m holding onto that prevents me from fully loving someone else.  Hurt feelings, anger, bitterness, personality clashes, wrongs done to me, etc., all pale in comparison to the pain Jesus felt as He experienced all my sin on the cross!  I have to think about this daily because it’s so easy to get caught up in the world view of what love means and loving only those who ‘deserve’ it.  I’m naturally selfish, self-centered and short-sighted – so loving people that are hard to love or hard to forgive does not come naturally and it’s just really hard! 

These verses put it in perspective for me though: “It is not that we loved God”…. So my love for him does not determine his love for me… “It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins”…. And I’m humbled by the magnitude of love in that. “But if we love one another, God lives in us”…. So it’s him in me that helps me to love people that I can’t naturally love….(what a relief!) “His love is made complete in us”…. Allowing him to love thru me means not withholding even when I want to – but taking a step of faith and letting him show me and the other person how big His healing power is.  As his love becomes more complete in me, I become more Christ-like.

Pastor said on Sunday that forgiveness is non-negotiable in the kingdom of God… Love is also non-negotiable.  This verse says to love each other because of how much God loves us!  That’s not a suggestion, it’s literal.  He says to love our neighbors as ourselves… He doesn’t say it’s helpful to love each other…. He simply says to love!  I have to remind myself these aren’t suggestions, but commands – and they are commands for a reason, so I need to love others and I need to forgive others no matter how hard it is!  Not by my own strength though, because that’s impossible… but thru God’s strength and power inside me.

I took a step of faith today and met with someone that I needed to reconcile with because of past hurts.  We both took a step of faith into forgiveness and reconciliation.  It was a hard 2 ½ hours of conversation and tears, but on the other side came a new beginning.  Not necessarily a forgetting of the hurts, but a letting go and a place to start fresh with different lenses.  God helped us love each other enough to do this… and it was only by His power and courage that we were able to step into that uncomfortable and fear-based place.  His love took over during our time together and now we have a new starting place for our relationship.   He really does what He says He’ll do if we only trust Him!

What are your thoughts on this today?   Do you have any stories of God’s faithfulness through times of forgiveness, love, or reconciliation?  If so, share!