“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.”1
Lately I can’t get away from the statement: “love is of God.” Other translations say love is “from” God. This literally means that all genuine love has it’s origin with God’s Spirit! If “God is love” and all love is from God, it makes sense that: “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” The implications are amazing, one of which is God is present where love is present, and God is absent where love is absent.
As with all spiritual things, the best that words can do is describe love, but they cannot convey what it is. Love is a characteristic of God, a spiritual dynamic which, to really be understood in any real way, must be revealed, encountered, and experienced within. I think genuine love is far more radical and shocking than most of us realize. Let’s look at some scriptures:
- “…When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end… “…You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:1, 13-16 ESV) Love is servanthood, honoring others above yourself.
- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV) Loving others as Jesus loved us is obedience to him; therefore love is the hallmark of his disciples. Jesus’ love included self-humiliation, servanthood, and willingly suffering to speak the Father’s heart.
- “Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.“ (Gal 6:1-2 ESV) The law of Christ is love, which includes bearing the burdens of others. These burdens could be guilt, weakness, flaws of all sorts. HOW we do this is an interesting question; I think it has to do with putting up with others patiently and speaking Truth to them, pointing their awareness to God’s presence, the life of Christ within them.
- “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV) A “walk” is a lifestyle, a constant pursuit. To “walk in love” is a crucial part of following God as His son. The best example of love is Jesus Christ laying down his life as a sacrifice to God for others in life, death, and resurrection.
- “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV) The greatest love is great self-abandonment for the sake of another. This can take many forms.
- “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-2 WEB) Love puts up with others, valuing peace and unity over being correct or having your own way.
- “And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) Similar to this, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” Love which is of God doesn’t relate to others based on the faults and flawed behavior of their corrupt flesh, but based on the purity and newness of the seed from God within. That’s what God sees and deals with, so that’s what love sees and speaks to.
The sign of a disciple of Christ is love. The sign of a disciple of the law is supervision, judgment, and condemnation. Law is unchangeable, it is and always will be “do this, don’t do that, or be punished.” It cannot touch the heart, connect with truth, or give LIFE. Law will always remain outside of the new covenant and new creation which came in Jesus Christ. I do believe there will be suffering and “wrath” toward those who refuse to follow Christ’s example of love and honor the Father, but I don’t believe in the “eternal conscious torment” idea of hell like many Christians do.
Love is so different than law. Love’s boundary is the finished work of Christ; it always sees and relates to others based not on their flesh, but the seed of God within them, because in Christ’s one offering for all men, all men died, old things passed away and all things became new.2 (Edit: A few days after publishing this post, I noticed Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:14, which very much corroborate my statement that love is bound by the all-encompassing finished work of Christ. Here’s what he wrote: “For the love of Christ constrains (literally: “compresses, binds”) us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died.”) We don’t see the manifestation of that yet, but it’s true! Speaking law is not speaking Christ, and will only make men be aware of separation from God, which prevents them from coming to him. Correction is simply pointing people back to God’s spirit/presence/seed within them; even treating them as a new creation, in love, regardless of how they treat you. Be so so careful then in what you share and speak toward others. Our words hold great power in the consciousness of others (I may write about that next).
God bless you, until next time.
- 1John 4:7 WEB
- 2 Corinthians 5:14, 17