Love & The Gospel


Is there someone in your life whom you love and whom loves you back? A parent, a good friend, a sibling, a spouse? Think about them over the next few minutes it will take to read this post.

Here's the big question for today: how do you know they love you?

They say nice things to you?
They Bring you gifts?
They are there for you?
They tell you they love you?
They put you first, even before themselves?

All of this is excellent, but it's not water-tight. Even with all of the above, the fact is that it takes faith to believe that your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling, friend loves you. Without that faith, a breakdown in trust occurs and no love can be exchanged from there forward.

Perhaps the most accessible example of the breakdown of trust is when a teenager stops believing his parents love him. The teenagers parents know they love him and they are doing their best to love him, but for some reason, he just doesn't believe it. Faith has broken down on the part of the teenager, so the relationship becomes strained.

A similar thing may happen in churches where religious people will do unloving things in the name of God, and this will set in motion a chain of events that eventually erodes faith in Jesus, whom religious people claim to represent.

Think of it this way: when a person betrays or hurts a loved one, why is it that they often say "but I love you". Do they? They are saying they do. Betrayal certainly doesn't show love, at least not in my understanding of Love - which is that "Love does no harm to a neighbor" Romans 3:10. Yet people use love as a get out of jail free card when they hurt others.

To bring this to a point, being brutal with your words to "speak the truth in love" isn't actually loving. It's being a jerk. We need to stop doing that. And we need to stop blaming God for when people do evil things.

Love, like many other things, takes faith, and faith is made real by actions.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. 
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. 
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. 1 John 4:11-21  

No wonder it takes faith to believe. But even more than that, it takes building an actual relationship with God - through prayer, reading his Word, going spiritually deep with others, and practicing the art listening to God's still small voice as you process through the daily grind of life.

To believe the Gospel (The announcement that sin and death have been defeated, that there is a way out, and that Jesus IS the way out) is to first come to the humble understanding that I am more sinful that I dare imagine, yet more loved than I dare dream.

1 comments:

How does my Son know what is in my heart? I struggle with this, especially today. I keep trying to understand how someone can say they love you but in the same breadth cause so much pain through their hurtful words and actions? How many times does Jesus want me to turn the other cheek? I know...777777777 times. Thanks Ryan for reminding me that I am loved and in times when it is hard to love back I need to place the situation in God's hands for healing.

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