During this second week of advent we’re choosing to focus on the theme of love. Yesterday we took a brief look at what is most likely the most well known Bible verse in all the world, John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The simple highlight that I shared in that post about this verse is that God’s love for mankind is all about us winning in the end. It is God who loves. It is God who gives. It is God who offers new life now, and in the age to come. We simply believe and receive…we win!
Because we are so loved, what are we to do? How do we respond to a God who loves us like this?
First, we need to understand that God’s love expressed in this way is nothing new for Him. In fact, 1 John 4:8b reminds us that “God is love.” You can search the Scriptures and find story after story of a God who pours out love on His people.
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (NET)
These verses give us just one brief glimpse of a God who loves. And the last part of this passage helps us to begin answering our question about how we respond to a God who so loves us. Our response is to pay attention to how God loves and do the same thing. The Apostle Paul puts it like this:
“Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (NET)
Jesus is our perfect example on how to imitate God in the way that we love others. Pay attention to his life and teachings as described in the gospel writings and you will have a pretty clear idea of how you can respond to God by living a life of love.
Jesus taught his disciples that loving each other is their proof to the world that they are followers of Jesus. That speaks volumes of the power of love.
“Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 (NET)
Jesus took time to not only teach, but eventually modeled what he says is the greatest love that anyone can offer:
“No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 (NET)
One of Jesus’ faithful followers, John, wrote a letter and explained how love is more than just the things that we say, action is required.
“…let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.” – 1 John 3:18 (NET)
Even from just these few examples we can begin to notice that loving God’s way is a powerful way to live. It’s meant to not only show that people matter, but it has the potential to turn the world upside down.
P.S. – Don’t forget to consider practicing a daily examen focused on the theme of love. For more details, check out my post from Sunday.