WHAT DOES LOVE REALLY LOOK LIKE?
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them,how can the love of God be in that person?18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
It has really been a rough week for the world. All throughout my life, I never thought that I would see anything like I have witnessed over the last few months. A Pandemic and multiple deaths to complete civil unrest in the world. Growing up I truly believed that I was blessed with good morals and a strong family built on Christian ethics. I remember my dad teaching me how we are to treat people and how we are to continue to show God's love in the world. There has never been a person that I more admired than my dad, because when I watched him live out his faith, I was able to see that love was color-blind.
Now before you start thinking about anything else, I need you to understand my dad. My dad was the oldest of 5 brothers and sisters, walked to school every day, had to go down to the creek to draw water every morning and evening for their family and played football, kept good grades and had a part time job. After graduating from high school my dad worked at a yarn mill until I was about 3 years old and then he surrendered to his call to the military. For over 30 years he served his country, retired as a Colonel in the US Army and took a second calling to serve by teaching in JROTC for over 10 years at both Ware County and Jenkins County High Schools where he won over 300 trophies including 3 national championships.
You may be wondering why in the world am I telling you this story about my dad. Because he is what I think about when I am asked to define in this time a pure representation of the love of God. He gave everything that he had for anyone. He would pick up strangers regardless of the time of night or if he was by himself. He would carry around loaves of bread and peanut butter in case some of his students were unable to have a meal from home. My dad came from an honest family that had nothing and gave everything for anyone that was in need. He never saw people for more than what they were... people that were created by God and if they were alive, then God had a purpose for their lives. As an JROTC instructor, he became a mentor and father figure to all of his cadets because all he wanted to do was help them to succeed in life. The older he got, the more he fell in love with God and the more he saw the love of God in every person that the met.
So when we look at our scripture for today, I hope we read it with the same attitude of servanthood. I hope and pray that we realize that God created us all in HIS image and that we have a responsibility to LOVE GOD... and LOVE PEOPLE. Not to live in a way that separates us because of where we live or who we are, but to truly see the value of GOD's creation and realize that we all deserve death because of our sins, but through the grace of God we receive life. Look at the Scriptures again: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. We didn't deserve the sacrifice, but see it was the decision CHRIST made that gives us this picture of AGAPE LOVE- love that can only be defined though the example of the sacrificial love of CHRIST. We lay down our lives and forget who we are in hopes of picking up our crosses and following in the example of Christ. I saw that example with my dad and to this day I try to live my life in the same manner. I live fully on following the teaching of God in LOVING GOD... and LOVING PEOPLE. That is not a choice I have to make because it has been instilled in me through the sacrifice of Christ for me. Remember our TESTIMONY is the fulfillment of this command by Christ. We truly show how our lives matter through living it out daily in such a way that others experience the GRACE that was so freely given to a fallen world.
It really is hard to see it any other way. I know that we are all hurting and struggling to make sense of a fallen world during this time, but it should challenge us to see that we have so much more work to do to open others' eyes to see love manifested through the life of Christ. If we are the only example of God's love, may we be able to express it as freely as we received it. May we take the time to recognize that there are many brothers and sisters that are fighting and dying every day to preserve our freedoms we take so much for granted. May we step across the lines that we have created and love people where they are instead of expecting them to come to us. May we carry out the Great Commission and GO and not think that we can just be ok if we close our eyes and turn our backs. EVIL EXISTS... and we have been called to fight evil with the LOVE of GOD.
Love looks like the ONE who came and even in the midst of dying, looked down and proclaimed, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." Love looks like the ONE who is willing to surrender his place in heaven just so we could have restitution for our sins. Love looks like ONE who is willing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty and visit those in jail. Love looks like a man who lived his entire life not to gain notoriety, but to do anything possible to give his family and ever person he met a chance at a better life. Love is laying down our lives and casting out our nets in hopes of not just feeding a person for a day but teaching them how to fish for a lifetime. Love looks like the stranger who is willing to take care of the hurting, the lost, the wounded, and the mistreated because of the love that lives inside of them. "This is LOVE: NOT that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1 John 4:10. See, love was never a decision we had to make first, but was the gift we received freely through the sacrifice of ONE man for the entire world. Now, is the time that we go and show others what LOVE really looks like.