Redefining Love

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35 ASV

Love is the hallmark of a disciple of Christ. Our love should be the love of God and it should shine so brightly that when others look at us, they see Jesus Christ. But recognizing love has become so complicated because our world has redefined love. What is paraded before us as love is not God’s love at all.

Love today means “condone my sin, look out for my own best interest, make me feel good, give me an emotional high, tell me what I want to hear, never hold me accountable for my decisions, don’t ask me to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable or requires my effort. If you say or do anything that offends me, then you don’t love me.”

What is the common thread here? “ME.” It’s always about “me.” This isn’t love…This is self-centeredness which is ultimately the sin of pride. When we come to Christ, it’s no longer about us…It’s about HIM.

So, how can we know what love is? We need to look to God–the Creator of love, the epitome of love (1 John 4:8). What does He model for us? Let’s take a look at Him and see…

What do we see in Christ’s life on earth? Exactly the opposite of what we see in the definition of love today. Mercy, grace, forgiveness, holiness, selflessness…We see that everything Jesus Christ did was for others, not Himself. He healed them, He comforted them, He cried for them, He cried with them, He prayed for them. Our divine Savior gave up His comforts and took on the limitations of human flesh, took stripes upon His back and carried His own cross to a humiliating death orchestrated by those very ones He created, preserved, blessed, and came to save.

He did all those things, but you know what else He did? He did something that we see little of in our culture today. He told them them the truth. He didn’t tickle their ears and placate them. He loved so deeply that He was willing to tell people the truth even if they reviled and rejected Him.

When we let God’s love shine through us we will be more concerned about others than we are ourselves. We will do all the things that Jesus did and we will put others ahead of ourselves and that even means telling them the truth, sharing all of God’s Word…even if they reject us, even it is painful for them and painful for us. We should have the loving spirit of Jesus–not condemning, yet absolutely uncompromising.

Jesus Christ doesn’t compromise the truth because He loves, because He IS love.

And according to John 13:34, we should love that way, too.

So, let’s go shine His love. Let’s hate the evil that is behind people’s actions and words and let’s love them enough to give them grace and mercy and let’s love them enough to tell them the truth: that sin is real, Satan is real, but so is our amazing Father, God, and our Savior, Jesus Christ who bought us back from death and put us on the road to life–now and for eternity. Let’s tell them that they can accept the priceless gift that He is offering, if they want it. It is free, but it will cost them everything, yet it is worth even more.

” And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;  rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; ]beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Love never faileth:…” 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 ASV

God’s Word Is Enough

Matthew 11:2-3 (KJV) “Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”

John the Baptist was Jesus’ earthly cousin set apart even before he was conceived to be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (John 1:23 KJV) preparing people for the ministry of the promised Messiah. John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15 KJV). John’s entire life was devoted to God in a ministry like none other. John baptized Jesus and witnessed the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ and he witnessed God the Father’s own proclamation that Jesus was His son. John knew Isaiah’s prophecies. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah who was to come and save His people and he testified publicly to that fact (John 3:22-36 KJV). John lived a life of faith.

So, what happened to John’s faith when he was imprisoned by Herod? He sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was indeed the Messiah. How could he not know? How could he be questioning this? Was he wondering if his life’s work, his ministry, was in vain? Jesus was not the type of Messiah, the King of kings that they expected. Even John as intimately as he knew God and knew Isaiah’s writings, perhaps he had other expectations. Perhaps he was greatly discouraged sitting in that prison. Who wouldn’t be….but still…

John had experiences. Not just one, but many divine experiences. Enough that one would think that he could never doubt the truth, never doubt God and never doubt who Jesus really is. But “experiences” aren’t enough. Jesus himself showed us that in His response to John’s question. He didn’t chide him, but neither did he give John another experience. He didn’t give him an emotional, “feel-good” moment.

Matthew 11:4-6 (KJV)  Jesus answered and said unto them, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

In the midst of John’s languid faith and emotional discouragement, Jesus gave John the Word. He referred John back to Isaiah’s writings (Isaiah 52, 53). Jesus didn’t swoop in with a spiritual experience–He comforted John with God’s Word. Jesus, God’s Word in the flesh, reminded John of what God had said and reminded him that He was God’s Word accomplishing all that God had promised.

As a matter of fact, after John’s disciples left, Jesus went on to speak great things about John–that there was none greater born of woman than he! Now that would have been great experience for John..how uplifting and encouraging. But Christ didn’t give John that. He gave him the Word.

We can seek an experience. (Many churches even offer them now instead of worship services.) We can cry out for an experience. We can beg God to speak to us and give us a word for the moment, the month, the year. Yet…He ALREADY has.

Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;”

Jesus–The Word in the flesh, who dwelt among us (John 1:14 KJV)–spoke many things to us and we have them written down, easily accessible to learn, study, memorize, hide in our heart.

We are blessed to have literal translations of what He wants us to know. Why is it not enough? Why seek a modern or trendy postmodern experience? If God’s Word was good enough for John the Baptist, shouldn’t it be good enough for us?

Jesus Christ is Enough.

God’s Word is Enough.