What is the secret of living the Christian life? It is to love God. And how can we know the love of God? Through His Word. We love God in return for His love for us. Those who truly love God want to serve Him, please Him, and live their life in a way that will glorify Him. And what is the only thing that will produce unfailing godliness and holiness in our everyday lives?–True love for God.
If we want peace and joy to be supplied continually, God’s love is the source. And if we will meditate on His love for us, His Holy Spirit will produce passionate love for God in us. The only way a tree can produce fruit is by God, and the only way love can be produced is by Him also. The true “…fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22). All who will love and obey God have the promise of a close relationship with Him.
The very love of God gave birth to the process of being saved. Knowing Him and partaking of both His love and His life combine to form the true essence of what it means to be saved. Whenever people preach the good news—the Gospel—they come as messengers of the love of God, declaring and sharing it with the whole world. But all who reject the good news about God and salvation are rejecting God Himself, which causes Him to weep with deep sorrow.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), yet the greatest way that God could demonstrate His love was by loving even those who are His enemies. “…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 [shed on the cross for our sake], we shall be saved from wrath [in hell] through Him. For if, when we were enemies (of God), we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son [on the cross, then how) much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life?” (Romans 5:8-10). The greatest way we can demonstrate our love as a Christian is to lay down our life for the sake of our Friend—Jesus Christ. It was for our sake that He said, “I have called you friends”(John 15:15).
If we love Jesus, we look forward to and “love His appearing” also, and we will live in the light of His promise to return as if today might be the very day He comes back for us. “…there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day [when He returns for me]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). If we “love His appearing,” we will live a morally pure life, not allowing the things of the world in this life to entangle us. “…every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). This is not an issue of holding onto the truth that Christ is coming again, but that the truth of the matter must keep a hold on us!
On the other hand, if we do not look forward to and love Christ’s appearing, we leave ourselves wide-open for evil to come into our lives. Jesus did not offer Himself on the cross as a sacrifice to death, but to life. And it is the same with us—it’s our life the Father wants, not so much our death. Paul said to “…present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1 emphasis mine) to God. How many of us have taken advantage of the wonderful opportunity we have to live our life for Christ’s sake?
God combines the highest love of man with the highest love there is—Divine love. But it is really Christ’s followers who make that combination, not Christ Himself. He emphasizes intentionally laying down our life for Him, but not necessarily by dying. He meant that He wants us to lay down our life daily, in the midst of everyday events in the everyday world, for the sake of our dearest Friend. This is where we will find the love that never fails. It is not the love of man, nor the love of God—this love is the essence of the very nature of Divine love in concentrated form! This is the meaning of the cross of Christ—God Himself laid down His life for the sake of man, whom He created and loves. By this one act, God’s love is poured into and combined with human love, thereby producing the only love that never fails!
[Image credits: Featured image (when available) Neal Johnson/unsplash; Barbara Jackson/pixabay; Ben White/unsplash; Moritz Bechert/pixabay]