Love is, all at once, the most powerful, and yet most misunderstood force in the universe. I can say this without fear of being called a Heretic, because the Apostle John reminds us that God IS love. Yet Love is also something Christians need to fight for, because our enemy seeks to destroy its meaning, water it down, and make it as ineffective as he possibly can. While Satan can’t diminish love, he can create within our minds a false definition. We live in an age where love is becoming a buzzword; people use it to justify every action they make, even rebellion against their creator in HOW they love, and in what they do to their bodies that He gave them. So let’s talk about it. What is love? Why is it so important?
Love is, at its core, sacrifice. The modern definitions are selfish, and seek to gratify the physical. They use the word to speak of sexuality, and gratifying one’s own selfish whims and desires. The world uses the word love to gratify the flesh and the rebellious nature of fallen man, but this is not true love. Love puts others before one’s self. Jesus said this of love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Why do all the law and prophets depend on these two commands? Because obedience is the highest form of love. To love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul requires us to put aside our hopes, desires, wants, wishes and dreams for the sake of God’s will. And to love our neighbor as ourselves requires us to put their needs above our own. To love God and our neighbor both require sacrifice, but the most wonderful aspect of this is such a love isn’t one sided; it’s not merely us doing the sacrifice. Our God is, Himself sacrificial in His love for us! He performed the first sacrifice of atonement, by sacrificing something from His good world (see Genesis 3, He made them garments of animals skins as He removed them from the garden), and He performed the last in sending His beloved Son to pay for our guilt, shame and rebellion upon the cross. And, even in all of that, He allows His creation to choose its own way, even though He knows that such rebellion leads to physical and eternal death. This love makes me want to cry out, as John did “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!” (1 John 3:1)
And this is the love we need to have for one another. This is the love we need to seek out, and this is the love that will drive out all fear, worry, and sin. The world will sell us a carnal, flesh-pleasing love that leads to death. This sacrificial love, for God and for one another, leads us to Christ, and through Him, eternal life. 1 John 3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.