God is Love ... What About Us?
In our men's group this week, following up from the message I had preached, "God is Love ... What About Us?", Wayne asked us what this meant to us, what does this love look like and how do we grow in such love. It led to some good reflections together and hopefully a renewed commitment as Christ-followers to seek to express more of this love to those around us. In doing so, it is important to be willing to risk looking within ourselves and growing in our self-awareness. But we must be careful to avoid putting ourselves down or simply trying harder to be good enough.
This morning I read Jesus' words to the church in Ephesus, recorded for us in John's Revelation. "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."(Rev 2:3-5) This was a church commended for the many things that they were doing well, yet Jesus was insistent ... without love for Him being primary, of utmost importance and priority, then the church serves no purpose and has lost the privilege of knowing His presence and bearing His light, signified by the lampstand being removed.
Sometimes we read these words of Jesus from John's gospel and think they are a test or challenge to us, yet the reality is that they are a promise. This promise is the reason love for Jesus has to be primary. The way we love each other and even our enemies, is that we love Him first. The more we invest in knowing, fellowshipping and entering into a depth of love and relationship with Jesus, the more we will be unable to do anything but obey his commandments.
So how do we do that? What does it look like? Well in many ways it simply parallels a human relationship;
we talk with him about our life, our day, our feelings, our hopes
we listen to him not just to get something but to get him!
we tell him about our love for him, thank him for His love for us and all that he has done and continues to do.
we praise him for his characteristics
we ask for his help to do what he is calling us to do.
we receive His comfort when we are struggling, hurting and fearful.
we trust in his promises and live as if they are true, anticipating that He will follow through on what He has said.
we rest in His presence and brag on Him with others.
we take opportunity to introduce him to other people so that they too might enjoy the blessing of friendship with Him.
we also respect Him not just by listening, but even before He speaks choosing to yield our will and submit to Him as Lord over our lives
This all means that our chief delight becomes to live to please Him by bearing fruit in His name.
May God give us grace for these things today and may he continue to guide and empower us through His Spirit, for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord.
With love and prayers,