15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 15:11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15:15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
What is love?
Love is not primarily a feeling. However, in our culture it is a feeling and it is the most important thing. People will say because they love someone, everything is justified. We will place our feelings way ahead of any other thing. My wants, my desires, what makes me happy etc; We have made a God out of what we want and how we feel and NO ONE can speak to us about it. Someone said the heart can talk the head into anything!
In our culture, to love someone means you accept everything about them. Our culture says love means acceptance and tolerance. Love does not equal tolerance. Tolerance is putting up with something you don’t agree with. It would not be loving of me to tolerate someone stealing my child. Love may contain tolerance but the two are not equal no matter what someone says.
In our culture love means you support them no matter what and that you can’t separate the person from an action. Love trumps everything.
I am not sure this is right.
If these things are true about love, what happens when you fall out of love? What happens when you decide to not love someone? As it goes, because you no longer have those feelings, you are not bound to act that way.
This is problematic at best.
God is love, love is not God. Loving you does not mean I support everything you do. Love doesn’t mean everything is ok. Love doesn’t mean as the Good Samaritan story suggests, we walk next to the man lying naked and beaten on the side of the road and say, ‘I love you’ and not demonstrate it somehow.
Does love mean I won’t hurt you or that we will never argue or disagree? No. If you have been married for any length of time you will understand this!
Love is an act of will -- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. – Scott Peck
As an act of the will, God loves us. God has made the choice to love us. This says everything about him and nothing about us! When I think about God’s love, I can hardly get over it! He has chosen to love me! I know all I do to NOT deserve his love.
Paul talks about love in 1 Cor. 13.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This has nothing to do with emotion. While that can be a part of what one experiences, it can not be the center piece. It wasn’t emotion that kept Mother Theresa in the slums of Calcutta but you could say it was love that kept her there.
This is the kind of love God has for us and the kind we are to give to one another. We are to choose to love those around us. This kind of love will reveal the Kingdom of God and what He is like to a world that needs this love so much. Especially in light of Amendments to Constitutions, terrorist acts, senseless violence, war, ugly discourse and a myriad of other things.
Ok, so you get it, love each other and all that. But how does one do that? How do we love people who we don’t like, who we don’t know, who don’t like us, who we don’t agree with? What’s the deal with that?
How on earth can I do that?
It is simple but difficult. 1 John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us.
This is why Ground Zero is so important. God has acted in history! He has completely disrupted things, shaken them to the core and changed everything. His act of love makes life at Ground Zero different.
The only way possible to give away the kind of love the scriptures talk about is if we have received that love. You can’t give away something you don’t have.
I think this is where the majority of Christians find the trouble. They believe in and are called to give away this kind of love. Good, honest, well meaning folks get frustrated and disillusioned because they can not give the love they are called to give.
God is love. You must receive the love God has for you. Only then can you give it away.
If you can’t love, it is because you haven’t received the love of God.
If all you can muster up is not to have ill will towards someone, you haven’t received Gods love. If all you can do is tolerate someone, you haven’t received Gods love. If all you can do is have indifference toward someone, you have not received Gods love.
God’s love is the kind you can’t help but give away. It pours out of you, it can not be contained. When you receive it, it jumps from you, it oozes from your pores. You are anxious to share it.
When we receive the love of God over and over in our lives, we are able to give that love over and over again to others.
So how do we do that? I mean practically how do we receive the love of God?
Think for a moment with me. Each day most of us get dressed each day and most of us try to cover up parts of us we don’t like. Makeup, clothing, the way we blouse a shirt, the way we pick clothes can reveal the way we try to hide things we don’t like about ourselves and allow the things we like about ourselves to be seen. In general.
We are tempted to do this with God as well. We will keep from him the ugly stuff, the unlovely stuff. We are tempted to bring before him what we think is acceptable. What would it look like if we brought our shame before him? What would it look like if we brought our unloveliness before him?
God does not love us out of emotion, although that is part of it. God is crazy in love with us, but it is not driven by his emotion but his will. God chooses to love us and that is far more powerful. He has covenanted with us. He has made vows and promises which are far beyond emotion. When we bring those parts of us before him, the parts that are unlovable we receive from him a wonderful blessing. He loves us. He doesn’t shun us, he welcomes us to his side. The shame we can’t bear and try so hard to cover up is the very thing he has determined to love.
You see, when we find it impossible or difficult to truly love someone, it reveals a lack of God’s love in our own heart and lives. Love is cool that way, it says little about the receiver and lots about the giver.
This gives me so much hope! It isn’t about someone’s worthiness to receive my love. It isn’t about how I feel about someone and it isn’t about what I think. It is about what God has done in me that I can not help but share. Love is about allowing God to touch that place in me that I would hide because of shame or guilt or some other motivation.
Think about what is keeping you from loving your brother, your sister, your neighbor or those you disagree with, republican, democrat, gay, straight, left, right, terrorists or the people who cut you off in traffic.
Whatever the reason is, bring what would keep you from loving someone before the throne of grace in your times of prayer. Read about the love God has for you in his word. Worship Him! When we turn our eyes to him, we can see all the reasons we love him, especially for loving us first! Thank him for the love he has for you! Ask him to make you a better receiver of his love. Make up your mind, as an act of the will to do it! If you need to, ask for someone to help you with this.
When my kids were younger we frequently had discussions about love. They would happily tell me how much they loved me and I would respond with something better. This came from the book Guess How Much I Love You. We would go back and forth like 'I love you as much as there is ocean.' and I would say 'that is a lot! I love you as much as two oceans!'
Eventually one of my kids would say 'I love you to Infinity!'
I would reply 'Well, I loved you first!'
'I loved you before I knew your voice. I loved you before you cried the first time in the hospital. I loved you when you were in momma's tummy.'
This answer generally produced a huge hug and a 'I love you too dad.'
I believe if we can love each other from the love we have received we will be in a much better place and so will everyone around us.
Read John 15 with new eyes.
John 15:9-17 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 15:11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15:15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Taking it home
Questions to ask…
How have you experienced God’s love?
Who do you find it difficult to love? Why do you suppose that is true?
What areas of your life could you submit to Gods love? What would happen if you do? How can you put Gods love for others and yourself into practice?
Scripture to memorize…
John 15.10-11 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
Actions to take…
Write down what you find unlovable about yourself. Pray over these things and ask God to show you his love in each area. Receive the love he has for you.
Think of someone you find unlovable. Write them a letter from God’s perspective telling them how much he loves them. Ask God to give you His eyes for those people or that person.
Be ready to give and receive. God will be revealing his love for you, be ready to receive it. He will also use you to reveal his love for others, be ready to give it! That is part of what everyday missionaries do!