‘But the Greatest of these is Love’

Quick, name the central, resounding theme of the Bible.  What’s your guess?  If you said love, you’re right!  Maybe you thought the central them was God sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins.  Well you’d also be right, but God’s motivation for this, was love.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

When the disciples were gathered around Jesus they asked him, which is the greatest commandment?  Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-40 The two greatest commandments are for us to love.  In fact, it’s here where we see the ancient Greek word for Love, agapeo or Agape.  The word translated in English literally means unconditional love.  Let that sink in for a minute… unconditional… no matter what, God still loves us.  Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There is no separating God’s love from us.  The Apostle Paul speaks so strongly about love in I Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  It’s in this chapter we find the eloquent portrayal of love used many times in weddings, in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and are told in verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Love is such a strong, overflowing concept in the Bible that it occurs 697 times in the New International Version.  Compare that to texts used by world religions, such as Islam, which mentions love (hubb) 69 times in the Koran.  Of the 99 different names given to “Allah”, there are no direct references to Allahu Muhibba or “God is Love”.  The Hindu religion has the word kama, but it refers to pleasurable (sexual) love as personified by one of their many gods.  They also have prema and bhakta as references to love, but none of which reflect an unconditional love of god towards man.  Buddhism has benevolent love, but it requires self-acceptance and is not reflective of a godly love.   It’s only in the Bible where we read of God’s love for us.  Take this to heart: The God of the universe loves you unconditionally!  I John 4:8 tells us, “Whoever does not love God does not know God, because God is love.”  All roads lead to the same God?  You decide, but I’ll place my faith in the God of unconditional love.

I’m certainly guilty of holding back love from people for one reason or another, but why is it so important for Christians to express love to everyone? The Bible teaches us to “Do everything in love” I Corinthians 16:4 , that love must be sincere Romans 12:9-10, and even goes so far as to say “love surpasses knowledge”. Ephesians 3:19  But perhaps the most important inspirational message for us to love one another, can be found in a song from when I was a kid.  That song had a chorus of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love“.  What a powerful witness to those who aren’t Christians, that they’ll know us by our love. 

I know with Valentine’s Day upon us, everything is all about “love” and we express that through flowers, cards, candy, and other gifts, but I just wanted to remind you of what true love is and that the Bible says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I John 4:10

Have a Blessed Day!

 

 

 

Take the High Road

 

Have you ever been faced with a situation of retaliation or revenge toward someone in your life? How did you respond? It’s often easy for us to get locked into a mentality of spitefulness when this happens, but the Bible tells us otherwise. Job 42:10 says, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Note that it was after Job had prayed for his friends that God made him prosperous. These weren’t friends that carried him through his trials and tribulations, these were “friends” that criticized and ridiculed him, encouraging him to curse God. Job’s response was to pray for them. John 15:13 reminds us that, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” In its context, this passage is clearly in reference to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross; for those who ridiculed, betrayed, beat, even murdered Him (see Romans 5:8).  Think about the following actions next time you’re at the cross roads of the low road of retaliation or the high road of love:

 Low Road

  1. Revenge and Retaliation when wronged
  2. Plays the same game as others
  3. Guided by emotions; up and down
  4. Reactive: lives no better than anyone else

High Road

  1. Unconditional love and forgiveness
  2. Refuses to play games; lives by principles
  3. Guided by character and values
  4. Pro-active: lives above merely human standards

Have a Blessed Day!

 

Atheist bus ads follow up…

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the British atheist bus ads having the slogan, “There’s probably no God.  So stop worrying and enjoy your life.”  In that post I made the comment that I thanked those folks responsible for the bus ads because I knew it was putting God into the mainstream news and that this would allow Him to shine His light and reveal the truth.  Get caught up on the story here: Thrown Under the Bus  Well, Sunday at Time Magazine’s online publication the latest news is allowing God to do just that.  http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1877658,00.html

Several Christian groups have launched their own retaliatory bus ad campaign with such statements as, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Psalm 53:1″ and “There definitely is a God, so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”

Backers of the atheist campaign responded to the pro-Christian ad by saying, “It just proves that we’ve had an impact” and they’re absolutely right.  Only I don’t think they’re having quite the impact they anticipated.  Something tells me this debate is only beginning.  I’ll be sure to post updates as they occur.  Perhaps the most profound statement of the article was the opening line by the author, “The word of God is on the move in London…”  It certainly is and I’m sure God will continue to use this as an opportunity for His glory.

Psalm 139:12 “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Proverbs 13:9 “The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.”

II Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

 

 

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"