The atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, once said: “The Christian principle, ‘Love your enemies’ is good…. There is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practise sincerely.” Russell was right. But only for those who have not experiencef genuine spiritual birth. Once a person surrenders their life to Jesus, God gives them a new capacity to love others.
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practise righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10)
If you are in Jesus, God has downloaded a new love software program in your life called Jesus – love is in you because Jesus lives in you. Love is your default! This does not mean that there will not be moments when you struggle to love. You are not in Heaven yet, so sometimes you will struggle with expressing love.But if you are truly born again you will repent from any hatred and grow in loving others. It will pain you when you fail to love others because love is who you are now!
The problem is that the word “love” has been used and abused by the world. Whitney Houston speaks for many when she sings: I found the greatest love of all inside of me/ The greatest love of all is easy to achieve/ Learning to love yourself / It is the greatest love of all. For many people love really means “love for self”. That is not what John means by love. The love John is talking about is love that comes from God. All children of God mus love others with the love that comes from our Trinitarian God.
Before God created the universe, He existed as an eternal, perfect loving relationship of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. It was a union of love! God created the world not because He needed love, but to share His love with us. So when God says love one another. He is saying imitate my love for my Son. How is this amazing love of God expressed among human beings? John says :
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. (1 John 3:16-18)
When I was in primary school, one of the things I enjoyed was using templates or stencils to draw animals! It was impossible to get your drawing wrong because the template did all the work for. John is saying, Jesus is our template for drawing love on every page of our lives. How should we love others? John says, take a look at the cross! The Cross is the love of God made visible. When you look at Jesus there being crucified for you, what do you see about His love for you?
You see Jesus loving you practically. He is not just talking about love. He has cried in Gethsemane and walked with open wounds through Golgotha for you. Jesus is on the cross hanging and marred beyond recognition and sharing the shame with criminals for you. His death for you is real. The love of Jesus is always practical. Your love for followers of Jesus must also be practical. You love must involve using things you own and giving those things to others to show you love them.
What else do you see when you look at Jesus hanging there on the cross? We see Jesus loving us willingly. He is not being forced on the cross. He is dying free! The love of God for is always willing. A willing love is a love that is proactive. It is is constantly looking out for opportunities where to share that love. Many of us are blind to the needs around us! We need God to come and tear open our hearts! To force his way and help us to see! We need to cry out to God to open our lind eyes to see our churches, our homes and our neighbourhoods as God sees them!
What else do we see when you look at Jesus at the cross? You see Jesus loving you sacrificially. Jesus on the cross is pouring His precious and only life for you! Our love for others must also cost us something! It must not be cheap! You may have to sacrifice a month’s pay check to give someone in here who is barely getting by.May be your sacrifice may be give up all the time you spend on social media to visit an elderly couple that can do with your company and just checking up on them. What is God asking you to sacrifice today? When was the last time you did someone for some that cost you? Jesus has died for you, what have you for your brothers?
What else do you see when you look at Jesus dying on the cross? You see yourself. You see Jesus dying for you. The love of Jesus is one-way love. Jesus died for “us”. Who are we? We are the underserving and rotten sinners of the universe. There is nothing lovely about us. Someone has said, the death of Jesus for us is like the sunshine shining upon the garbage dump. We are deserve Hell! And yet, the Sun of Righteousness has entered this dark world and let his love shine on the cross for us. The amazing love of God has been lavished on us. We are now His bride! This is how Jesus loves us and we also must love others like this. We must love the most difficult and undeserving people among us.
Finally, we are to love others truthfully. John says, “let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth”. In other words, our love must be genuine, without any hypocrisy! Your words of love must match you deeds! And that is a good place to end because that is the question in front of us this morning. How deep is your love? Be truthful about that because love must be truthful. Is your love from God? Is your love as Jesus has loved you from the cross? Is your lour love practical, willing, sacrificial, one-way and truthful? Just, how deep is your love for others?
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2020