Pastor Steve Ellison
Love is a popular word these days, but I suspect that many people have no idea what love really is. Most of the time, what I see around me is people engaging in one of two things, neither of which is love. It seems that many people have confused lust for love. The second mistaken view of love is simply allowing others to do anything they please without calling them to account. This is observed very often in family relationships. Neither of these are love, by any stretch of the imagination. The Bible is full of declarations that God loves. 1 John 4 declares that as well, but also takes a large leap forward in declaring in two verses (8, 16) that God is love. Love is part of God’s character and nature. Thus, if a Christian does not exhibit love, he is besmirching the very nature and character of God. Taking the name of Christian upon oneself is a serious matter. God has chosen His people as His method of displaying Himself to the world that desperately needs Him. Every Christian has a responsibility to accurately represent God and to display God to the people around them.
1 John 4:11-14 states it plainly and succinctly, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (NASU) Non-Christians do not see our God, but they see us. We must be careful to portray our God accurately to non-Christians. Christians testify that God the Father sent God the Son to be the Savior of the world by the quality of our lives. Verse 12 indicates that specifically it is Christians’ love for each other that best displays God to the watching world. Our love for each other will draw people to Christ or our disdain for each other will drive people away from Christ.
I must ask myself some probing questions. Does my love for my fellow Christians accurately reflect God’s love? Is God’s loving character and nature manifest in me, on display for the world to see? Non-Christians should be able to see those things that define God’s love in me such as sacrifice, unity, intimacy, and reconciliation. Do I keep an internal log of grievances, ready to share those at a moment’s notice? Do I meditate on how other Christians have disappointed me? Do I focus on ways that I disagree with other believers or do I focus on places of agreement with other Christians? How would my co-workers and my barber describe my feelings for my church and my fellow Christians? Would my family members or the coffee-shop crowd use the word love to describe how I feel about my brothers and sisters in Christ? This is God’s method for putting His love on display for the world to see. My love for fellow Christians will cause non-Christians to recognize Christ on the cross as the Savior of the world. My lack of love for fellow Christians will discourage non-Christians from recognizing Christ on the cross as the Savior. This is a sobering responsibility, not to be taken lightly. Oh, may we learn to love one another for the sake of Jesus’ name.....firstname.lastname@example.org