We want to transform the world for Christ – to witness people flooding our altars, saved, delivered, and set free. We attend church every week, sing-along with our favorite Christian music blasting in the car, and assure desperately hurting people that we will be praying as we give them a quick hug and walk away to our own lives. At the same time, we bicker with one another, find fault in trivial matters, and tear down what we are called to build up. Reality is, our Christian lingo has become cliché and we have been inoculated with the gospel just enough to become immune to what it truly means.
I just finished two semesters of Bible Study Fellowship’s (BSF) Romans Study and was once again taken to the heart of God. The gospel message is LOVE. One our most quoted scriptures, John 3:16, is all that is needed to completely transform the world. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Our salvation was conceived from love and our purpose is to grow up in this love. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
This message has been preached to us over and over. It has been pounded into us, but has it transformed us? Paul understood this message and he became the epitome of the love of Jesus. What really drove this message home for me was what he said in Romans 9:2-3. Paul is speaking of Israel and the “great sorrow and unceasing grief in (his) heart” he expressed on their behalf. He took it to the limit when he said, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren.” What kind of love is this that one would give up heaven so another would experience heaven?!? This is the embodiment of the love of Christ.
As I pondered this I was cut to the core. It is one thing that the Son of God loved me so much He would leave paradise for me, but it is entirely a different thing that a naturally born human being would exemplify this same sacrificial trait. Then God showed me Moses had said something similarly. In Exodus 32:32 Moses says, “But now, if Thou will, forgive their sin – and if not, please blot me out from Thy book.”
We know this isn’t how forgiveness works, but if we could get this love – this authentic love of Christ – inside of us, the world would be transformed! It is more than preaching a good word. It is more than gifts of prophecy or hospitality. It is more than the best apologetics have to offer. Love accomplishes more than any of these! It is time for us to sacrifice our comfort and desires and truly love people. Not for what we can gain, but from a heart of giving.
Listen! “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2) People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Paul’s “message (was) not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)
Our culture has tainted love so much we don’t even know what it looks like. For starters…
- Love doesn’t give up on a hopeless situation, but it gives until the last drop is gone.
- Love bolsters others up the mountain even if it means it’s left behind.
- Love sees past the leprosy and embraces the soul God destined for greatness.
- Love basks in the glory of God, never seeking its own spotlight.
- Love forgives those who nail it to the cross.
Why? Because love never fails. It rises from the ashes and breathes new life again. LOVE IS CHRIST.
May this be our deepest desire. To imitate Christ by taking love to the limit. Moses could not be a deliverer without the love of Christ. Paul could not be apostle without the love of Christ. You and I cannot be obedient (even unto death) without the love of Christ. We cannot bring transformation without the love of Christ.
Lord, I ask You to reveal to each of us what Your love looks like. May Your love empower us to lay down all selfishness and truly love as You love. And may the love we have for others wet Your people’s appetite so they can taste and see You are good. For it is the goodness of God that leads men unto salvation.
May we never neglect so great a salvation.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.