Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So what's the big deal about love? Part 2

Here is the link to first part.

After I finished that post I kept on thinking of more examples of God's love throughout the Bible, but that will have to wait for another time.  This time I want to look at how the love that we have been shown transforms us.

Romans 5:7-9 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

The greatest expression of God's love toward us was Christ's death.  God's righteousness, holiness, and justice required a punishment for sin.  That punishment was death, an eternity separated from God, it was a heavy price, it was a price that we in our limited capacity as humans had no way to pay.  We had no hope of ever being able to escape the punishment or to pay the price; it was hopeless. But God is his love offered to us his Son.  His Son, Christ on the cross received the punishment that each of us deserved.  God's righteousness, holiness, and justice were satisfied, the price for sin that no human could pay was paid by Christ.   There is no way in this world that I would ever think to offer my son up  for the payment of someone else's debt, but that is what God did for us.  We often forget the significance of that love; do we even have a grasp of what that love is?  The big deal about love is that without love we would still be dead in our sin.  Without love we would be destined for eternal separation from God.  That love is the very foundation of our faith, without the love of God there would be no hope.  

Three separate times in the last lesson that Jesus taught to his disciples before his death he instructed his disciples to love one another.  

Jn 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Jn 15:12-14
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jn 15:17-18
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

In the prayer that Christ prayed before he went out into the garden he even prayed that his disciples would have the love that his Father had toward him would be in his disciples.  It was how he finished his prayer.

Jn 17:24-26
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

In the life of a Christian love is one of the most important attributes that should be exhibited.  Christ said that the two great commandments were to love the Lord and to love your neighbor.  He said that on these two commandments hung all the law and the prophets.  If you love your neighbor then you will be kind, you will treat others correctly.  You won't lie, steal, or cheat etc. if you are loving your neighbor.  The importance of love is that without love you will ever be able to be a Christ-like Christian, because love is integral to his character.

Up next will be a look at I Corinthians 13.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

So what's the big deal about love? Part 1

Sometimes it is amazing to see how the Lord uses many people to help teach us lessons.  In the past week I have had two separate conversations with people about love, and then I heard a message on the topic.  It is the topic that I have been pondering for a while.  So what is the big deal about love?

So often as Christians we focus on God's justice, holiness, and righteousness.  We acknowledge that God is love, but it is never the focus.  We consider it good enough for the kids in preschool (one of the first verses they learn is "God is love"),  but that basically as far as it goes.  We mention it when we talk about Christ's birth and death, and we gloss it over when we talk about how we should live our Christian life.  Focusing on God's love doesn't mean that we ignore justice, holiness and righteousness or any other attribute of God it just means we are taking some time to mediate on the concept.

So where to we see God's love?   It starts on Genesis with Adam and Eve.  God could have allowed Adam and Eve to die immediately because his justice, holiness, and righteousness required it.  His love not only gave them a lighter judgement, but gave them the promise of a Messiah.

Think of Cain.  He murdered his brother, he deserved whatever punishment God gave him.  God's justice, holiness and righteousness required punishment, but His love meant he listened to Cain's complaint of the punishment being too hard and extended mercy to him.

Even Noah.  God's justice, holiness and righteousness required that the whole world should be destroyed, but his love saved Noah and his family.  His love extended the promise that He would never destroy the earth again with a flood. 

With Moses.  God's justice, holiness and righteousness required that Moses do what God commanded him.  His love gave Moses someone to help, Aaron.

With the children of Israel.  How many times do we find that God's justice, holiness and righteousness required the death of the people?  But how many times do we find His love preventing their destruction? In the wilderness with fiery serpents, we find his justice sending the snakes, but his love providing salvation from the death the serpents brought.

With David.  David sinned in numbering the people.  God's justice gave a consequence, his love stopped the consequence.  

With the city of Nineveh.  God's justice and righteousness demanded that the city be destroyed.  His love and mercy sent Jonah with a call to repentance.

With the woman caught in adultery.  She deserved death that was what the law required, it was what God's justice and holiness required.  Christ offered her only love and forgiveness.

With the disciples.  It was love that Christ offered them in the face of their betrayal and abandonment. 

With the children.  While the disciples offered the children only distain, Christ offered them love calling the little children to him, and chiding those that would prevent them.

With the Jews that rejected him.  His justice brought condemnation and a prophecy of destruction.  His love led to Christ weeping as he looked at the city.

With the human race.  God's justice, holiness, and righteousness required that the price must be paid for sin.  His love offered his only son to pay that price.

A focus on His love does not deny or minimize any of His other character traits.   If we study with out pre-conceived notions of what we think the Bible says, we might find something that we missed.

There is a lot more to ponder on this topic, hence the part 1.  More will be coming soon.

Part 2