Next, we are given a spirit of love. Love is both God’s part and our part. God’s love comes to us, that’s God part.
While we were sinners, God loved us. For God so loved the world, he gave his only son. This is God’s part. And what is our response? Our response is also love.
For Christ’s love compels us to live a life of love. That is what John JDSN preached last week. God’s love is the only lasting motivation to live the Christian life. This is the mark of a healthy and vibrant faith that gives out of overflow.
The problem is that I hear many people say that I will love only when I feel compelled. They argue, hey, I am being authentic, I am checking my motives and I’m not just going through the motions.
What if I said, I am only going to teach bible study when I feel compelled. Some weeks, I just feel lousy. I had a bad day at work and I came home and the kids were extra cranky and I was cranky. During those kinds of weeks, I don’t feel particularly endowed by God’s spirit so I’ll just skip bible study. Is that okay? What if parents approached child rearing this way? I’m only going to give Elijah a bottle and change his diaper when I feel like it. Would everyone around me say, good job, dad. Way to be a sincere father.
Is sincerity measured by acting only when you are genuinely compelled to do something?
Think about that.
To answer this, I recall Mother Teresa sharing in her journal how she did not feel God’s presence for nearly a decade. Did that mean she shut down her operations and stopped caring for people? No, she obeyed even when she was not compelled by God in an emotional sense.
Ideally, every day we would we compelled to love and serve because we are so overwhelmed by what Christ did for us on the cross, but I want to add that we are also commanded to love.
Religious people are fixated on their performance and ability in following certain laws to boost their ego and Jesus hated this kind of hollow religion. Instead, Jesus said a new command I give to you, love one another. We can’t forget that love is first and foremost a commandment.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, he gave a two-part answer, which is interesting. You would think he would give a single answer to this single question — what is the greatest commandment — but he gives a two-part answer. The first part is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. These 2 commandments are inseparable. You cannot say you love God without loving your neighbor. And you cannot love your neighbor without being continually fueled and refueled by the love of God.
Receiving God’s love doesn’t have to be a feeling or an emotion. The entire Bible and the cross tell us that God loves us. And as we read the Bible, all we need to do is to receive in faith that God’s love is personal. Not simply that God loves in the whole world kind of way, but that God loves ME. We need to take God at his word and stop waiting for some emotional breakthrough before committing to love in return.
Okay, some of us “feel” we are not doing that well with God. Some of us “feel” that God is distant. Instead of waiting around for that supernatural experience that will jump start us spiritually and renew our “feelings” of love towards God, the ball is in our court. We should hunger for God’s presence today – NOW – and take steps to love and obey Him. Because the Bible says to. It commands us to.