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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is God's Love Being Seen in Me?

Have you ever wondered why the most loving Person this world has ever known was crucified? We think that love produces love in others until we remember junior high. That's when we learned that the girls we loved with all of our hearts had no love for us. It was very confusing. Our love doesn't produce love in everybody else. Neither did Jesus' love.

Some believe that love is merely a set of chemical reactions. These combine together at the right time and you "fall" in love. That's a little too romantic for me.

The Bible tells us that love is a decision. No one can command you to have a chemical reaction. You don't merely "fall" in love. You step up to love. This commandment has been a problem from the beginning. People have been giving exceptions ever since they said they identified with Christ. They knew they had to love but also knew that they didn't have the capacity to love some people. Therefore, they redefined love. They have become like the Pharisees who redefined any law they didn't like so they didn't really have to follow it.

The missing element in love is the Spirit. God has given us His Spirit. The Spirit enables us to love others. In fact, He directs us to love them in the first place. The ones hard or even impossible by man's ability are loved because God loves them. Every one of them.

Yes, I know that it is difficult to understand that God loves the little baby as much as He does the guy that cut you off in traffic. The baby did you no harm. The one cutting you off in traffic stomped on your right to have a clear lane ahead. Shouldn't this be included as an unforgivable sin?

But God's own love rests in all who have identified with Him. (I stopped using believe in because I believe in Albert Einstein but do not identify with him. I believe he existed. It has to be much more than that.) I identify with Him like I do with my wife. We have become one. This means that I take care of her little dog even when I didn't want another dog. I love the dog because she loves the dog.

My relationship with God is much deeper than my love for my wife. He has come to reside within me in His Spirit. Thus, His love presides over who is loved. I really don't have a say in the matter. I love because He loved first. He loved me when I didn't know Him. He loves others that I have not loved yet. He loves those whom I can't love in my own strength. I love because He loves.

This is all untranslatable to the one without the Spirit. Our confession that Jesus is the Son of God comes from the Spirit. This confession is revealed in our love for others. I rest upon the presence of the Spirit within me to confess that Jesus is the Son of God who died for those He loves.

The question I must always ask myself is: "Is God's love being seen in me?" The distance I am from God is usually measured in the lack of love I have for others.

1 John 4:13-21 (ESV)
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.


Anthony Chia said...

Is God’s love being seen in me? It is referring to whether or NOT people can see or NOT, God’s love is seen in us (or me). It is NOT primarily asking if God’s love for us (or me) is seen in us (or me). It is whether God’s love for others is seen in us. And so, it presupposes God has love for others, apart from us (or me). Does God have love for others, apart from us (or me)? We are crazy to think that God only love us (or me), and NOT others!

John 3:16 said it all, that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, so that whoever believes in Him, may have eternal life. The world is definitely NOT just us (or me)? It is all men, in general. There is another verse In Scripture paralleling this understanding. 1 Tim 2:4 – (God our Savior) who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Or this: 1 John 2:2 - And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

So, please, we should stop thinking we (or I) am so special that God loves only us (or me). We are (or I am) special, but he is and she is, too. God’s love for me and for you is the same. God’s love for men is defined in the Hebrew love word, ‘ahab love, as love unto righteousness. The righteousness there, is His righteousness, and this love, is defined independently of who (men) we are referring to. And so, it is about us, men, coming into this love of God. Another way of putting it, if you are a man, and you are righteous, God cannot but love you. And if one remains stubbornly unrighteous, God ultimately cannot love him.

This is how God allowed Job to be spoken of (Job 1:1): In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

In other words, Job was the most righteous man in the land. If you meditate on this, with the knowledge and understanding of the story of Job as detailed in that Book, and believe, as it is defined for us, the love of God (‘ahab love), you will appreciate the love of God is so incongruent with the many ideas of love, from the world. The love of God has one aim and only one aim in mind, to maintain and foster greater righteousness in us (or grow the holiness in us).

All the ways and manners and even all the particular things that have been or will be allowed to happen in our lives, including (Job, an good example) loss of wealth, loved ones, and even health, God has NOT precluded Himself from employing (it does NOT necessarily mean God caused it), so long as it goes towards maintaining or growing in you, righteousness; the only condition is that He cannot be unholy or He cannot be evil in anyway.

To me, this is NOT digression from the topic, and I hope it will expand readers’ understanding of the love of God. One benefit is that we can get a better understanding of what is going on in our lives, when we are told we are having a God who loves us; and that God is NOT “playing favourite” in His love; it is to the degree you are righteous, you will experience the degree of His love, as the degree of your righteousness puts you into the degree of the fullness of God’s love. The fullness of God’s love is there all the time, it is we have to step into that fullness, and we cannot do that, if we are NOT righteous. Over and on top of that, the grace and mercy of God flow out to us to help us along, all subjugated to the demands of God’s own holiness.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

It opens our spiritual eyes to see how far we are from the fullness of God’s love, and even as we journey greater into that fullness, we should want others to experience that love of God, too, and we should want also, to give understanding to others, about how God loves men, so that we encourage men to move towards and into the fullness of God’s love, which is the will of God. You may say, “But why?” As that Job story shows, God does NOT take His eyes off the one who is righteous, despite whatever afflictions have been allowed to hit him, and when the person’s righteousness stand, the love of God will bless most abundantly (you can read, in the end, how Job was doubly blessed by God). The greater blessings, however, many somehow, often forget, are God, through the Holy Spirit sheds His peace and joy abroad in our hearts, meanwhile, and at the appointed time, brings us to be with Him, in Heaven, as a consummation of the Love Story, the Gospel.

“Bro Anthony, ok, I get what you saying here, but what does it got to do with whether or NOT God’s love is being seen in me or NOT?” Firstly, I hope we are clear it is NOT about you and I, and it is about you and I! It is NOT about you and I, in the sense it is NOT about our love for another man. It is about God’s love for another man. We join God in the Love Story, when and only when we have been justified, and that gets us, the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus. In simple terms, you and I entered into the Love Story on becoming a Christian (we been justified and adopted into the Story). The Story is about God loving men and men loving God back; it is NOT just God loving you (or me) and you (or me) loving Him back. Yes, there is the personal dimension, and yet, the big picture or corporate dimension is that God is after men, NOT just you and I. I repeat, it is NOT about your love or my love for another man. Ps Prentis, you are cute, and I like it - your saying that “We think that [our] love produces love in others until we remember junior high.” It is about His love, like the author of this song said it:

Oh, I love you with the love of the Lord,
Yes, I love you with the love of the Lord;
I can see in you the glory of my king,
Yes, I love you with the love of the Lord

Actually, how can one be truly righteous, if he loves another with his love? The very 1st commandment, he fails, for that commandment calls for us to love God back with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And when we are NOT truly righteous, we have NOT yet come into the fullness of God’s love. To be truly righteous, we have to love God with all our love.

When we do love someone with our love, we do NOT love God with our all! Some people actually would say the Scripture is self-contradicting or is oxymoron, arguing that the very 1st and 2nd commandments of God are oxymoron – God’s asking is in contradiction. I say the author of the above song got it right, it is when we love another, NOT with our own love, but the love of the Lord, that there is no contradiction in the two love commandments.

God knows the hearts of men (Acts 1:24) [thinking that there is contradiction], and Jesus shed some light on this: Jesus said that he was giving the people a new command, but what He gave was the same 2 love commands as in Deu 6:5 and Lev 19:18. But Jesus did say “new”; so what was new about the love commandments? The 1st commandment was the same (Deu 6:5 did NOT have “mind”, explicitly), but we read this in John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, so you must love one another.

Therein, is what was new about Jesus’ command: We are to love another, in the same way He loved the disciples. How did Jesus love the disciples? He loved them with the love of the Father God. Jesus’s love for the Father was a total sell-out, doing His will, even to die on the Cross, a cruel death; why? Because that is the Father God’s love for us, men. Jesus loved His disciples with the love of the Father God.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

So? So, it is NOT about we love another man or whomever man, with our love; it is we love another with the love of the Lord. Jesus is our model: He loved with the Father’s love; He did the will of the Father. We? We to love with the love of the Lord; we to do His will (Of course, the Lord and the Father has once again, are one, and one with the Holy Spirit; For a season, the Lord laid down His deity).

“Ok, bro Anthony, now I understand I am to love with the love of the Lord, just as Jesus loved, with the love of the Father God; but must I love, so that the Lord’s love can be seen in me?” Yes, you and I must. When we look at the Strong’s Lexicon on ‘ahab love (God’s kinda of love), we find our reciprocal love for God is also to be unto righteousness. Righteousness is bounded with love. And so, we see in Scripture, Jesus defined loving God this way (John 14:15 & 21): He who loves me obeys my commands, and He who obeys my commands is the one who loves me. The righteousness of God (what God wants done and the time it is to be done) is explicit to us in His commands; that is why Jesus tied love to obeying His commands. So, we ask: Is it His command we to love one another? Yes, the John 14:34 made it explicit (“A new command I give you: Love one another. AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, so you must love one another). When you and I don’t obey His commands, say, this “love one another” command, we are NOT being righteous (righteousness, simply, is being spot on with God, with what He wants), and that translates automatically to, we are NOT loving God fully, and we won’t be at the fullness of His love for us.

1 John 3:10 (KJV) spells it out clearly: In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

We can see, NOT loving one another, being singled out as NOT practising righteousness. Another angle to view this, is that righteousness of God necessarily includes God wanting us to love one another. In other words, loving one another is always in the righteousness of God, NOT just sometimes. Viewing in another way, we cannot go wrong when we practice loving one another; and it is consistent with this verse (Rom 13:10 KJV): “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

The righteousness of God cannot be working any ill; and love, being always in the righteousness of God, therefore, cannot be working any ill; and so, love is said to be fulfilling of the law. In this way, too, we have the understanding of some of the similar verses in Scripture, like the ones below:

Gal 5:14 - For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

James 2:8 - If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right {practising righteousness}.

On top of 1 John 3:10, the apostle John also similarly linked loving God, keeping His commandments, and loving one another together, in 1 John 5:2 (KJV) – “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.”

The flow is very simple: We are to love God with our all (the 1st commandment – love God commandment). We love God by obeying His prescription for us and doing His will, and His prescription and will are in His commandments, and foremost and always in His righteousness (or what He wants), is we to love one another, and so, when we truly love God and so, keep His commandments, we would have kept this love thy neighbour commandment (2nd commandment), and so, we are loving one another or His children.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

What does it mean when God’s love is NOT seen in us?
In matter of degree, these:
We are NOT practicing righteousness
We are NOT obeying His commands
We are NOT loving God, as we are NOT loving one another
We are NOT getting ourselves into the fullness of His love
We hinder our own sanctification
We have NOT identified with Him (borrowing Ps Prentis’ words)

The end for one who is righteous and so, is loving God, is being loved by God, and it is beautiful; and his journey on earth, meanwhile, will be with God’s cover over him, and so, he is at peace and with joy, in and of the Holy Spirit. Be that one, and God will have His children, all like His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions