When I went to the Philippines, I bought my aunt a beautiful wooden canvas with the word love written on it as a souvenir. I literally brought love with me on my three month vacation in the Philippines. And instead of bringing a wooden canvas back home, I am filled of God’s love to share to you what God has been whispering and teaching me these past three months and every day of my life.
Love is overused, cliché. “Yes Jesus loves me” has been sung just too many times over and “God loves you” has been said without sanctity and sincerity that we fail to ponder the real meaning of those words. The world has perverted love to merely a lustful attraction or simply just selfish human companionship. But we have that void, that desire to be truly known and truly loved: no pretenses, no masks and no judgments. God created man so he could enjoy us in a way of intimate relationship and because of that we are made longing for a God shaped love in our hearts. We make a mistake of putting a human relationship or love for other things in that void. We busy ourselves trying to fill in that gap with our human ways, but that is made only for God to fill.
We are drawn to God by love; it says we love God because he first loves us (1 John 4:19). Our love for him is merely reactionary. Because His love is so deep, so wide so long and so high it’s baffling (Eph 3:18). It’s ridiculous. In the darkest times, it shines the brightest, it rages and it’s blatant. That’s the love we are made for. That’s the love that God has given us through Jesus.
You know what really blows my mind? That a perfect God, the God who created the galaxies, the wonders of creation and the complexities of the human body. The God who is powerful, magnificent, holy and righteous God, would love me—puny, vulnerable, sinful, selfish, prideful—so much that he gave his son, his only son, Jesus, with the same blood of God running in his veins to live a life that we should have lived and died a death we should have died so we could be reconciled to Him.
You know this, I’m sure. As a “Christian” we have prayed the prayer and lived what “Christians” ought to do. But we forget and misunderstand. Why did Jesus ask us to take communion in remembrance of Him? Because we forget—He knew that we need to be constantly assured and reminded about “our first love”.
We could be caught up with the religious motions: serving ministry before serving the God of the ministry, serving with the wrong motives, living so ‘righteously’ in the church but fail to do so in the world (the place we are called to be the salt and light to) and in our very homes, being overly judgmental and forgetting that we are merely sinners with our sins redeemed and cleansed with Jesus’s blood. We get calloused, we forget how to love and become legalistic. My fear is that our love has waxed cold. My fear is that we forgot our first love.
2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
We may labor, we may do “God’s work”, but without love, we sin against God.
In the infamous chapter of love it blatantly states:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
“ If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
We could speak in tounges, we could have the gifts of the spirit and all spiritual knowledge, we could have amazing faith, and we could give so generously, we could die for the sake of the gospel but without love, it’s nothing, and it’s meaningless. Doesn’t that alarm you? It does to me. It drives me to my knees and repent.
Have you been operating in God’s love? Or have you been selfishly serving God for your own motives and gains? Have you been serving just because? Or you did start because you love God but your love has died, you have forgotten and left your first love?
Do you remember your first encounter with God? Do you still remember who you are and how messed up your life was before you met God? Do you remember when you finally was brought in a place where you needed Jesus? When you first realized how much you were loved that Jesus died for you? When the Holy Spirit touches your heart, assures you of God’s love for you, and gives you a hope that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us?
When we truly encountered God, we overflowed—fire they called it—we had joy, peace, righteousness, zeal and love. God said it’s the greatest. We were so hungry for more of God, that we spent hours reading the word and on our knees, we wanted to please him not because we are forced to do it or other people are doing it, because we simply loved God and we wanted to honor him and hope for other people to have this same love we experience. We wanted so much, we received and we continued to overflow, so much, so much we can’t contain it. We love him so much, we acquired his heart, we acquired his mind, we wanted to do his work, we wanted to share this love—free perfect, liberating—to everyone. Obeying and listening to his voice is a delight.
But things happened, life happened.
It could be overfamilliarization, neglect, circumstances, doubt, pride, the past, rejection, persecution, hypocritical Christians, offense, pointing fingers, rumors, condemnation, our sin, “I can’t feel Him, I don’t think he could hear my prayers”, “Christianity is too hard”, the price is too high to pay, you refuse to give God this apart of your life that’s causing a rift. So many reasons, so many excuses that we make to forget, to question his love and then we start to resent and hate Him.
Then we fall out. And most of the time, we don’t even realize it until it’s too late. It starts with a little compromise, we become a little too prideful, our words begin to change. And we’re still at church, raising our hands. We could still be at church when we become fearful, discontent, hateful, complaining, prideful, apathetic, impatient, finding pleasure of things that are not of God. We begin to feel like church and ministry is too much. We begin to be ashamed of Jesus Christ. We get tired and we find the things we love so much become a ritual than a delight, a duty than an act of love. We forget the promises, the enabling grace, and become weak and distant. We isolate ourselves and we continue to go down that rabbit hole. We try to take our problems in our own hands but it crumbles and falls.
We forget that NOTHING can take us away from the love of the Father, but we could abandon that love;
Then we’ve drifted to far, we’ve done things not pleasing and grieving to the Holy Ghost, the devil does not fail to remind us of the past, things that make us small, unworthy to come to Him. Our sin has separated us—we pray but nothing is happening, we repent almost every day, we read the bible but it’s like Greek to us. There is nothing we could do—
BUT GOD. It’s always in the rock bottom—in our brokenness, our surrender, God speaks.;
He calls us back to Him. Grace, mercy, love—another life changing encounter, even more assuring, even more overwhelming. Jesus already broke the chains, the yokes, he forgives, he strengthens, he reinstates, he cleanses, and he loves, he loves and He continues to love. He never left, he never let us go—he continued to pursue us.
He has proven that his Love is true, faithful and steadfast.
Let us return, to the one who loves us the most.
Definition of love;
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
With that same love that God has loved us, we must love others. As Christians we should be known for how blatantly and insanely we love. Not judge, but love. Not keep grudges, but forgive. Not shun, but include and make people feel like they are loved. If you have a hard time doing it, ask God for a fresh revelation of His love to you so you could simply overflow of His love to you.
How do you treat other people? How do you treat your family? Why don’t they get saved, you ask? Do you act like Christ in the midst of them? Are you being an example?
Love is action. Love does something. Love is work.
God is love.
Let us pursue love, love others just as Jesus Christ loved us.