Begin Series Conclusion: Always Relevant: God Is…
John 13:34 MSG
Ephesians 4:15-16 MSG
Matthew 18:15-17 MSG
In many ways I think God has gotten a bad rap. I say that because I’ve talked to people who think God is demanding, harsh, and relentlessly obsessed with rules.
I tell them God has never been demanding with me. The only thing God really wants is to be in relationship with me. God wants me to receive His love and He wants my love in return.
There have been times when I have been unable to freely offer love to pretty much anyone or anything. That has been the exception to the rule and God understands why I felt that way. I was deeply hurt and confused by the gut punch I just received.
Looking back, I wasn’t really devoid of love. I just couldn’t feel love because I was in so much pain. God knew that.
John 13:34-35 tells us, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
God really really wants our love and wants us to love one another.
I realize that sounds easy, and I tend to think that loving God is easier than we think it is; I’ve also found on my own lit isn’t always easy to love everyone else.
That’s where prayer comes in.
See, when I have been hurt by someone (especially repeatedly hurt) it’s often difficult to continue to love them by human definition.
Humans equate the feeling of love with happy, warm regard. I assert that love is much more than that.
According to John 13:34-35 love is a command from God and God will not give us a command without giving us the ability to fulfill that command.
When God tells us to love one another it’s a matter of accepting one another for who they are, accepting what they believe, and accepting their choices in life. God does not expect us to change them before we will agree to love them.
Thankfully, God does not expect us to be perfect before He loves us. God loves us in our brokenness.
Often, we expect others to possess some characteristics that are lovable and/or characteristics that give us some hope that they will return our love.
We really want warm and fuzzy.
We want them to exhibit characteristics that will add a benefit to our lives.
At the very least we want to know they are an honest and trustworthy person.
That’s human nature.
We do not want to be hurt.
For many of us, we were trained at a young age by our parents to stay away from people who seek to hurt us.
Since I was always the smallest person in my class and I was a girl, I didn’t ever have anyone bullying me. Still, I stayed away from people who were intentionally mean. As a child, I wasn’t willing to take a chance.
As an adult I was forced to rethink what it meant to love another person. I had to take a good hard look at my own expectations.
I came to realize that as a command, I was to love even the unlovable.
I also had to learn that loving someone does not give them the right to repeatedly take advantage of me or others. If someone does have an unhealthy way of interacting with others, I need to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. In the Message Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are easy prey for predators. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”
Boundaries are real, folks.
Love others in a mature way and speak truth to them. Jesus told His followers in Matthew 18:15-17, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”
Jesus clearly said if someone hurts you, go to them. If they don’t “own” it, go back and take one or two others with you. If they still won’t listen speak it in church before the assembly. Each time we are told to forgive them. We don’t forgive because we want to…it’s a command. When you say, “I forgive you,” you do not have to feel like forgiving them, but when you speak the words God will help you. God will work with you and with the other person. You may not immediately see or feel the love, but in time you will see changes…at least I have.
Just know that God knows that loving another person isn’t always easy. Because it isn’t easy, God is there to help us.
God loves you and will not fail you.
God loves you so much that He will honor your effort to love a person who may not be terribly lovable.
Remember…God IS Love; frash and new every time.
Spiritual Practice: Love
Make an effort to love someone who isn’t lovable. Ask God to give you love for them.
In God, Deborah