Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

God's Love & Ice Cream Love

Let’s look at John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God is love (1 John 4:8).

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous.
Love does not brag.
Love is not arrogant.
Love does not dishonor others.
Love does not seek its own.
Love does not take wrongs it has suffered into account.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love never fails.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love endures all things.

Other things fail.

This is the love God has for us: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:14-18).

The love 1 Corinthians 13 talks about is the kind of love we are to love God with. We are returning His love to Him in obedience. We love because He first loved us.

Love is expressed in two directions. Love expressed upwards (towards God or those in authority over us) is done through obedience. Love downward or horizontally is given sacrificially for the benefit of the one loved.

Expressing love this way also provides information. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). By this love that they can see, everyone will know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.

It also gives us knowledge about ourselves. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). This love or our lack of it give us knowledge about our relationship to God.

John 3:16 is expressed again in 1 John 4:10-11: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

The “world” God loved in John 3:16 is not the world of rocks, trees, and rivers, because only individual unbelievers are capable of believing and responding to love given. Rocks and trees are not. The world is capable of believing—all of mankind. The part of the world that believes will not perish. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).

The only people who can love as God loves are those who have believed that Jesus died for them. When they believe, they receive the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The rest of the world is left to “love” in worldly, erotic, or selfish ways. None of this love is obedient or sacrificial. Unfortunately, many Christians think in the same terms as the unbelievers. They think they love someone, but what they really love is themselves—the benefits they get from being around the person. It is the same as “loving” ice cream. Many Christians are not up to loving their enemies, neighbors, spouses, other Christians, or God. They are Christians living like the world.

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