Love Is A Choice

(1 John 4:10) “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Love is a choice.  God chose to love us even though we did not love Him. His choice was not based on whether we were acceptable. In fact, we were unacceptable to God when He chose to love us. Humanity set itself against God as His enemy.  The world stood against Him and killed those He patiently and graciously sent. The blood of the prophets was on the hands of humanity. Finally, His innocent Son was brutally crucified.

But even in the brutality of the cross, God chose to love us. While humanity viewed it as an execution, God provided a sacrifice. It was a sacrifice that satisfied every claim He had against humanity. It was payment for every vicious act committed against Him. The object of our hate became the vehicle for our redemption. Yes, love is a choice.

Who will you choose to love today? A spouse that committed a great sin…a neighbor who stole…a friend who ruined your reputation…a stranger who destroyed your life or the life of someone you love…someone who spoke hurtful words… It’s hard to love those who don’t deserve it. It might be the hardest thing we could ever do. Love is a choice that leads to walking in grace. We can never live under grace unless we choose to love.

Don’t Bottle Up Grace, Peace and Love!

bottle photo  (Ephesians 6:23)  “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

At the beginning of this letter to the Ephesians, God’s provides us with His official proclamation in this Dispensation of Grace: “grace and peace.” (Eph 1:2)  We see this throughout Paul’s epistles. Here we arrive at the end of this epistle full of advanced information for our edification and encouragement. We see God has even more than “grace and peace” for us. He also gives us “love with faith.”  Grace, peace, faith and love are the key provisions we have from God at so many different levels it would take libraries of books to describe it all.

Ephesians provides the Church with the ideals in doctrine and application. Every local church is supposed to be a mini-picture of what is designed for the entire Body. We are supposed to be the visible demonstration in our communities that there can be true peace and true love. We are supposed to live at a higher level than the economic, political, entertainment and media driven society in which we are immersed. It’s important we recognize what God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ directs towards us today. But if we look around at all the problems and hypocrisy in Christianity, it’s hard not to wonder how God could possibly expect this out of human beings. On one hand God tells us he directs peace and love towards us but on the other hand we see just the opposite. Is God wasting His time or expecting something that isn’t possible?

In Christ, we are free from judgment and condemnation (Rom 8:1). We are free from the bondage of our old identity. Therefore, we are free to exhibit the attributes of God Himself because He is our identity and gave us every provision we need for Him to personally live through us. We are designed to live on a higher level than our flesh and the old sin nature. He is the One who makes us qualified and capable to live in a mature faith. The Lord doesn’t direct grace, peace and love towards us for it to be bottled up within the boundaries of our own soul and spirit. He provides us with His identity and indwelling, and thus a capacity, so we can reflect these attributes towards each other. This is the real key to overcoming every problem in a local church – living out who we were made to be in Christ. We can live better, higher and more powerfully than what most believe is “normal” in our local churches.

Renewed Thought – What kind of impact could we have for the gospel if our local churches were made up of believers reflecting the attributes of God towards each other and those without? 

His Lover Never Fails

(Ephesians 5:32)  “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

“Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” Sounds like a love song, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it isn’t always how things go in relationships. Most of us struggle with the idea of unconditional love. We are accustomed to setting terms and limits on our love. There is an imaginary line we draw and if someone crosses it, we decide not to love them anymore. But in the depths of our own soul, we crave forgiveness and relationships for ourselves that provide the security of acceptance in spite of our shortcomings.

Marriage is designed to provide unconditional bonding. It’s the uniting of two souls to become inseparably and unconditionally permanent. It’s hard to understand because we don’t see it. The only way to realize the permanence of marriage in a way that will overcome all the challenges of the world, the flesh and the devil is to realize what marriage is through the eyes of faith. Yes, this is mysterious.

Actually, the words in the song are the chorus from the worship song “One Thing Remains.” It’s a love song… but not between two people (although it should be).  I’ve come out of church on several Sundays after singing this song and it just stayed in my mind for days afterward.  While we may wonder at the mysterious oneness of marriage, a greater mystery is the oneness we have with Christ. The relationship between man and wife provide the picture and we see the spiritual reality in the relationship we have with the Lord as the Church. It really is an unconditional, permanent bonding in Him that cannot be undone. In this sense, we can reverse the image and see that marriage should also be unconditional and permanent. – a reflection of what we have in Him. When we realize what we have in Christ through the eyes of faith, we are equipped to deal with the world, the flesh and the devil in a way that goes beyond anything we could have imagined.

Renewed Thought – The hardest thing we may ever be called to do is give someone else the same love the Lord gave us. Does our love ever fail? Does our love ever give up? Does it ever run out? His doesn’t.