Today we read the truth about love:
knowing Christ means more love and confidence,
less and less fear.
…everyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God lives in him, and he lives in God. So we have come to know and trust the love God has for us.
God is love, and the man whose life is lived in love does, in fact, live in God, and God does, in fact, live in him. So our love for him grows more and more, filling us with complete confidence for the day when he shall judge all men—for we realise that our life in this world is actually his life lived in us. Love contains no fear—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.
Yes, we love him because he first loved us. If a man says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if he does not love the brother before his eyes how can he love the one beyond his sight? And in any case it is his explicit command that the one who loves God must love his brother too.1 John 4:14-21(PHILLIPS)
Here is an astonishing portrait of both divine and human love.
Can you love?
Are you loveable?
Let us start with: God is love. Without an understanding of this point nothing else makes any sense. God loved us first!
He is the one who cultivates a love relationship with us. His Holy Spirit woos and convicts us until we acknowledge our need for him in our life. When we accept his love as a powerful reality, we are changed.
How many human relationships begin with one person expecting the other to change? We say, ‘If we get married he/she will give up that habit…that addiction…I find so repulsive.’ Or, ‘If we have children he/she will grow up and become a responsible parent.’ Insert your own IF here _____________________. Be honest about the changes you are expecting.
Now brace yourself.
The ugly truth is this—without God in the mix, nobody is going to change! If he/she is a drunk, an addict, an irresponsible loser at the start of your relationship…if you fight about the problem all the time, demanding change and only seeing brief periods of minor improvement…the relationship is doomed to end with both of you in exactly the same place you started out.
Without God, people do not change! They try to change, and for brief periods may succeed in maintaining the appearance of change, but eventually—unless God intervenes—people return to serve the master of their choices.
Religion does not change people!
Paul wrote these words to the church in Rome:
…this is the point: You died to the power of the law (religious rules and traditions) when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. Romans 7:4-6 NLT
When we ask God to forgive us, and invite Christ to make his home in our heart we become, instantly, a new creation. We have a new heart, a new mind, and a transformed life.
Then, and only then, we can begin to love each other. With the LOVE of God as our guide we can begin to make the changes that will bring blessings to those we love, and glory and honor to God.