(A study in love)
Since Valentine’s Day is coming up this next Friday, I decided to share this article in honor of that day that celebrates love.
There is an old adage that says: Love makes the world go round! I discovered that the meaning of that phrase in medieval theology held that “love literally set the universe in motion.” I think I like that! We read in Genesis about the story of creation. I choose to believe that out of love, day by day God created the world as we know it until on the 6th day He created man in His own image – how could He not fully and completely love them? God gave them everything He had created except for one tree in the middle of Eden, which they were told not to eat of that fruit. But, as we know, they gave in to temptation and ate some of that fruit from one of those trees. God could have wiped them off the face of the earth with one wave of His hand and started all over. But instead, because He loved them so very much, He opted to just let them suffer the consequences of their sin and move forward. 1 John 3:1a (NIV) says: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us…” The definition of lavished is: “Extended or given in great amounts or without limit.” Based on that definition, we could never begin to measure the greatness of God’s love for mankind from Adam and Eve forward.
There is verse after verse after verse in the Bible about His unfailing love. When you consider the multitude of failures of all mankind, day in and day out, His love would have to be unfailing in order to tolerate us. Psalm 100:5a (NIV) says: “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever…” That enduring love is another thought that is repeatedly mentioned throughout the scriptures. If you will take the time to open a concordance and study the word “love” you will truly be enlightened and encouraged.
I found the interpretation of 1 John 4:16b-21 in The Message translation to be so very good that I want to share it with you: “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love – love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, ‘I love God,’ and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” That sounds like extreme love to me, all the way around.
There is a very familiar passage about love – I Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV). But since as the above scripture said – “God is love” – I will use that thought to expound on the idea of the Corinthian verses: God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails. Reading it that way truly puts His extreme love in perspective. Take it a step further and insert your name every place where I placed God and experience that extreme love for yourself! Can you handle it?
1 John 3:18-19b (The Message): “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.”
1 John 4:7-12 (The Message): “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love – so you can’t know Him if you don’t love. This is how God showed His love for us: God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love!” (Perfect – and EXTREME!)
I believe that we truly do need that kind of extreme love in our hearts and our minds in order to be the people God wants us to be. How else can we handle the daily stress, strain and temptations that we have to endure from the world? 1 John 2:15-17 (The Message) puts it this way: “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from Him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
I know that this article may seem a bit disjointed in content, but when I read my devotional this morning I just started searching with the idea of extreme love in my mind. Here’s the quote from that devotional that stirred me up: “God doesn’t just love us; He loves us infinitely. When He forgives, He forgives completely. When He saves, He saves thoroughly. When He makes a covenant with us, it’s a forever covenant. The eternal, infinite God does not express His core attributes in temporary, partial ways. He is an extreme God with an extreme love.” **
So I am going to take this as a challenge to do my best to better myself by loving extremely as God loves me. I want it to drive out any fears that try to move into my life. I want it to imprint on my life all of the positive and wonderful traits that are expressed in I Corinthians 13. I want it to replace the desires in my heart for things of the world that I do not need in my life – my life is full and happy and I should be content with that. I want it to help me love others as God loves me.
** Page 60 in Worship The King by Chris Tiegreen
Written by Karran Martin – March 2, 2019