The Challenge of Love

To treat others how we want to be treated, to love one another – they are ideas that look easy on paper. If we take a hard look at ourselves, though, we may find we aren’t so good at these simple concepts. God sets out expectations of how we are supposed to live and treat each other. He sets an example of love, and our challenge is to follow that example, to demonstrate the love of God in our lives.

In our character, God is the pivot point. When we know how to interact and how to react to God, we learn to better interact with those around us. We learn from an early age that God made us and God loves us. We study His power, His mercy, and the many ways He loves us. We demonstrate our love for Him, in turn, when we love others. Without loving others, we do not love God.

Foundations of Love

According to Genesis 1, we are God’s Creation, and He made us in His spiritual image. We understand that authority is a part of Creation. We are His. However, man likes to live by his own authority. In Daniel, for example, both kings Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar need to be reminded of their places. In contrast, Psalm 19 describes the glory of God’s word as portrayed by nature. The psalm speaks of a power before which we must humble ourselves. It is the testimony of I AM, as God calls Himself in Exodus 3:14. We are created for the purpose of good works under this authority according to Ephesians 2:10.

John 3:16 describes the love God has for us in the sacrifice He provided and made on our behalves. Paul elaborates on this point in Romans 5:6, describing how undeserving we are of such a sacrifice. He describes our relationship with God as adversarial, but the cleansing power of Christ’s blood bridges the gulf separating us from our Father. He loves us despite the fact that we are unlovable. This love is a model for the love we are to have for one another according to I John 4:19. It is unmeasurable by our standards, but it is also a love that is unconditional. THis is the foundation upon which our love is built.

God Doesn’t Want Us to Hit

Ephesians 5:1 encourages us to be imitators of God in all things, and I John 4:7 equates loving others with loving God. God is characterized by love, and demonstrating unloving qualities separates us from our God. Without love, according to John, it is impossible for us to even know Him. Verse 20 goes as far as to say that we are liars if we claim to love God while harboring animosity and resentment in our hearts. Just as we don’t want our children to hit their friends and classmates, God does not want us striking out at each other. Doing so is contrary to His nature.

God’s will is accomplished through love. Galatians 5:14 calls love the summation of God’s law. Loving one another takes care of the details. Once love is in place, all other aspects of obedience become easier to follow. Many of us are familiar with I Corinthians 13, describing the qualities of love. We often recite these verses at weddings, but Paul is describing more than the love between husband and wife with these words. He is expounding upon the type of love all Christians should have for their fellow man, and Paul even has the audacity to say that anything we achieve ultimately amounts to nothing if we do not have love.

Where then is our love for those around us? God created us. He loves us – completely and unconditionally. In turn, He wants us to demonstrate His love in our lives.

by Kevin Heaton