It is not possible to over emphasize the centrality of love in the Kingdom of God. The only thing that rivals the centrality of love is the centrality of truth. In our evangelical tradition truth has been emphasized more often than love with the sad result that we tend to become highly qualified Pharisees. We speak truth to the world but often without a commensurate degree of love. Here is an interesting irony – when we speak the truth about God the greatest truth we can express about Him is His love. No other world religion can truthfully speak of its God the way we can. No other God[s] is a god of love as ours is. Love is who He is and the greatest truth we can express about His nature is that HE IS LOVE. Listen to his sermon here
God created a hidden miracle at your conversion. He supernaturally created instant family. When you accepted Jesus you instantly belonged to Him but you also instantly belonged to all the rest of His children. At the moment of your conversion to Jesus your identity was supernaturally changed. You now belong to love and you have the capacity to love with the perfect love of God – who is love.
- LOVE IS YOUR NEW IDENTITY!
1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love”. To know God is to love.
1 John 4:16 “Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him”. We partake in the divine nature of God when we love, because He is love. We experience Him when we love because He is love. You are never more intimate with God than when you are loving someone with His love. We have this idea that our greatest intimacy with God is during worship, when we sing our love to Him. The fact is; God’s word tells us that we are more intimate with God when we are sharing His heart for another one of His children – by loving them. In these moments we have the miraculous joy of experiencing the depths of God’s heart.
- LOVE IS THE PROOF TO US OF OUR NEW IDENTITY! Not only is love for one another our new identity, it is the proof to us of our new identity.
1 John 3:14 “We KNOW that we have passed from death to life BECAUSE we LOVE our brothers”. All the evidence we need to assure ourselves of the authenticity of our conversion to Jesus is the love we give to our brothers and sisters. If you have not found yourself more loving to your new Christian family after your conversion you should question your conversion.
John 13:35 “You are mine IF you have love for one another”. My wife sometimes asks me how I am doing with my relationship to God. I usually end up telling her how my quiet times are going and what He has spoken to me lately. The fact is; I am missing the whole point. My answer should be; “You can answer that better than I can. Muffin, you tell me, how am I doing loving you?” My sentimental feelings toward God mean less than nothing if I am not loving those around me. The proof is in the pudding.
- OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER IS THE PROOF TO THE WORLD OF OUR NEW IDENTITY!
John 13:35 “By this ALL MEN will know that you are MY disciples, if you LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” There is not much to say here, it is perfectly clear and unambiguous. Unavoidable.
- OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER IS THE PROOF TO THE WORLD OF JESUS’ IDENTITY Now this is truly radical!
John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Jesus is saying that His credibility rests upon our unity. Unity is really little more than the state of our relationships when we are loving well. Unity is just love well realized.
This is such a radical statement! Jesus has so many things to suggest that He is divine: miracles, prophecies, wisdom, His sacrifice and love. Yet, He pins His credibility with the world on our love for one another. I believe this is because when the world sees His love between humans it is the best expression of His truest nature. And we have the ridiculous privilege of being His illustration of His nature. It works like this:
This how we usually envision our “testimony” of Jesus to the world:
Imagine a picture of a field of red stars. We see ourselves through the lens of our individualism as one of many points of God’s light, each one a proof of His love for each individual. A sea of beautiful stars – a very beautiful and compelling picture but perhaps not really accurate.
Here is a truer picture to imagine – a field of red stars connected by lines of red light. What the Bible is telling us is that God is displayed to the world by the lines of love [the light] between us.
1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This verse is telling us three vital truths:
- No one has ever seen God – God cannot be adequately described, He must be demonstrated. Words alone are inadequate to reveal God. That is why love is so important. Love is the demonstration and words are the explanation of the demonstration.
- If we love one another God lives in us. God lives in us [plural] as a community/family and not just as individuals. This is a conditional statement of truth. It could be put in the negative and be equally true: If we do not love one another God does not live in us. Arguably the point being made is not that God will not live in an individual when he is not loving. The point is that God will not dwell in our community when we are not loving. Can you imagine a church without love? What would it look like? Imagine a bunch of religious individuals consumed by their own personal experience of god with no regard for anyone else. Frightening!
- The “complete” expression of God’s love is not made visible until we love one another. The world needs to see the complete expression of God’s love in order to know what He is like. God is seen in the lines of our relationships – in the love between us, in community. We “complete” His love!