This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 1 John 4:10-11 (NLT)
There is a hunger in this world for a love that is real. A love which is unconditional. In this passage from the New Living Translation Bible, the Apostle John reveals to us the meaning of real love. It is a God-kind of love. It is not a love initiated by ourselves, but a love that God has for His creation.
How did God love us? He loved us by sending is only son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice to the earth. Jesus took upon Himself the sin of all mankind and died on a cross, becoming a curse for us that we may be free from sin. Although dying on the cross was an extremely painful experience, what was truly agonizing for both Father and Son, was that Jesus, who did not commit any sin had to become sin. Love is celebrated when someone is willing to lay their lives down for their loved ones. How much more is that love when it is done for those who may never respond to this sacrifice? Jesus had to take on the sin of the worst criminals this world will ever see, without any guarantee that any of them will accept Him as their savior and believe in Him.
It is this unselfish love that John is talking about, and it is with this love in us that God wants us to love Him and each other, whether they are friend or enemy. This is not the superficial love that we see happening in the world. People “fall in love” and commit their undying love to their partner, until that partner stops giving them what they feel they should be getting, or stop being the person they want them to be. The love that this world and our mortal bodies have to offer are always conditional in some way or another.
The God-kind of love is unconditional, and it is not a selfish love based on what you can get out of it. This love always considers what is the best for the other person and is not dependent on the other person’s good behavior. It is easy to feel human love towards those that treat you well, but we do not feel love towards those that steal from us or murder our family members. God extends His love to all of mankind, even mass murderers. The worst criminal only need to ask God’s forgiveness and believe that Jesus died for them, and God accepts them with open arms. By now it should be clear that what we call love falls far short of true love, the God-kind of love.
So what are you saying Pastor Otter? Do want me to become a doormat for other people? Is this true love? You may be in a marriage where you feel you are giving all the time, and your partner is not giving anything back. The God-kind of love enables you to remain in the situation and keep on loving without receiving anything back. No, not to become a doormat, but because this God-kind of love is a powerful force that can change a person from the inside out. As you sow love there will come a time when you will reap love back again. This can only happen when you are looking towards God as your source of joy. Remember no person can fill that space in you that is reserved for the God-kind of love. Of course I am not saying that you should stay in an abusive relationship, but I am saying that if there are things you would want to see improve in others, allow the God-kind of love to accomplish it through you.
The God-kind of love is not weak, but it is a powerful force. Study the scriptures in the Bible regarding the love of God, and you will find your trust in God’s love grow. As you start believing that God loves you unconditionally, your ability to love other people unconditionally will improve. Remember that this God-kind of love is not a feeling; it will not always feel comfortable but trust in God for His love to flow through you. Loving others means sharing the God-kind of love with everyone around you. Decide today to be part of filling others with this real love that will transform them.