We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
There are so many facets to love it was difficult to know where to begin; yet, as a Christian, I had to begin here. Those of us who have the tiniest understanding of the monumental grace of this gift are overwhelmed with the love of God.
Tullian Tchividjian, in his book One Way Love*, explains it this way: “Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver. It is one-way love.”
Brennan Manning described it as indiscriminate compassion. He wrote, “Abba’s love cannot be comprehended. I’ll say it again: Abba’s love cannot be comprehended.”**
As we are given His grace, we are filled with God’s incomprehensible love and there it creates in us a desire to love, a desire to extend the grace and mercy that He has so graciously filled inside of us.
Jesus wanted us to be well aware of and attentive to this grace of love. As he spoke with the disciples, he emphasized four commands, two old and two new, which he placed upon us as his followers.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
Commands 1 & 2 – The Old
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Jesus, God the Son who emptied himself of his divine nature to become human while on earth, continually deferred to the will of God the Father. His threefold purpose in coming here was to reveal the Father to us, to redeem us, and to show us how to make disciples. His first two purposes were revealed in his first command.
Commands 3 & 4 – The New
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-44
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Jesus’ third purpose was revealed in his last three commandments. His reminder to stay yoked to him (Matthew 11:29-30) will help make this love easier to do through the Holy Spirit.
TEACH US TO LOVE
by John Blase
Lord, teach us to love. Then teach us to love
further still. For love is the first of the fruits,
the seed giving rise to the taste of a world forgiven,
a world resembling that next place.
Lord, teach us to love and not only to observe.
Conjure in us the courage to touch. We’ve seen where
there is no intimacy there is no revelation. Help us
to remember this is the daily battle.
Lord, teach us to love overestimatingly. To be
awake to the truth that ours is a holy place where
all things can be endured, can be hoped, can be believed.
That yes, with love all things can be born.
If we are to produce the Holy Sprit’s fruit of love, we must practice it as Jesus required in all these forms. As he said, it is easy to love our own; our transformed lives must result in behavior that shows significantly greater love (Matthew 6:47).
The Best Known Scripture on Love
Perhaps the most famous Scripture about love comes from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In this letter, Paul addresses the arrogance of the church leaders, who have come to worship their own Spiritual gifts more than God. More than that, they have evaluated those gifts and judged which are valued more and which are valued less. Paul, in a wisdom and discernment that comes from the same Holy Spirit that resides in us, informs them that these gifts given with pure grace, if used without love, are worthless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
It is only then, when he has their full, attention, he can explain what love is.
Many of you know it by heart; to some, it has become trite or cliché. So it doesn’t remain commonplace , I’m going to ask you to do a short exercise.
Take the few short verses in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and write it out, but substitute the word love (and it, as the description continues) with your name. Once you’ve done that, read it aloud and take measure. Are you living God’s intended life through His love?
Thankfully, as we practice and fail, and practice and fail, and practice again, God’s great grace, mercy and unending love are there to lift us up and remind us that he loves us because we are human, not in spite of it.
“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.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Teach Us To Love Copyright 2014 John Blase
John Blase’s “about” page reads, in part: “My credo, if it can even be called such a thing, rides piggyback on the slithering black curved back of the lovely question mark. I don’t have many answers, but I do have questions…”
John is the author of All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (With Brennan Manning), Start With Me: A Modern Parable (with Michael Seaton), Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas, and most recently, Know When to Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood.
Please find more of John’s eloquent and heartfelt poetry at the beautiful due
This post can also be seen on Mind’s Seat, www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com