Title: Love And The Christian_2.
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This is the second part of the two-part series of this teaching titled, Love And The Christian. Whereas the first part looked at love generally with particular emphasis on the perspective of the world to such acts, this part of the teaching focuses on the Christian perspective of love.
The foundation of all the teachings on love from the Christian perspective must be the manner in which the Almighty God Himself expressed love. God’s demonstration of love with specific relevance to man can be seen from the moment He created man. Not only did He create man in His own image, he showed care and likeness for man;
1. By placing man in a position of authority over every other creation and even the angels – Gen. 1:29-30.
2. By providing a comfortable living for man in the garden of Eden – Gen. 1:28.
3. By giving man the special grace to name all the creatures that He (God) created – Gen. 2:19-20.
4. By coming down from His exalted position in heaven to socialise with man in the garden in the evening – Gen. 3:8.
5. By providing clothing for man to cover his nakedness, even after man had disrespected and betrayed Him – Gen. 3:21.
His love for man was further demonstrated when, even after sending man out of garden of Eden to prevent man from eating of the tree of life, he still provided several ordinances to Moses as listed in the biblical book of Exodus and Leviticus to bring man back to Himself as He seemed to be very uncomfortable with the distance that was ever growing between Himself and man. He just was not going to allow whatever man may have done to hurt Him to stop Him from expressing love continually for man.
When all His attempts failed to restore His relationship with man, He did not hesitate to perform the ultimate act, just to reconcile Himself with man by sacrificing only son – Jn. 3:16. That scripture states that because of His love for man, He gave His only begotten son as a sacrifice, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. Everlasting life will mean that such will be in a position to be with Him in eternity. It was to be the greatest act to indicate His desire for reconciliation with the ones He truly loves. He would spare nothing to achieve that, not even His only son. All these the Almighty God did to demonstrate His love for man.
That exactly is the manner in which He expects man in general and Christians in particular to demonstrate love, not only for Him but for one another, whether Philial, Eros or Agape.
In one of His several attempts to bring man back to Himself, He had given Moses the guiding laws which was to be later known as the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17) which Jesus Christ was to later summarise into two major points with love as the foundation of both, and as follows.
1. All should love God with all their heart, soul, might and strength – Mk. 12:30.
2. All should love their neighbour as themselves – Mk. 12:31.
It simply reveals that everything about the law and by implication Christianity is about love and nothing else. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans says the one who expresses love has fulfilled all the laws because foundation of the laws is love – Rom. 13:8-10. It is therefore important that the one who wants to consider him/herself as a Christian must fulfil all the conditions of love. Yes! Conditions of love because love thus have some conditions to be fulfilled before it can be called love.
As can be seen with the Almighty God, true love is not just verbal but is expressed and involves the act of giving. You do not like or care for someone only by words of mouth. Something has to be given to demonstrate love. To give something means you lose something when love involved. There should be no regrets for giving if it has to do with love just as there can be no love without giving. Starting from providing accommodation, feeding and eventually clothing to Adam and Eve, God was giving all through. He even honoured Adam with the opportunity to be part of the creation process by allowing him to name all the animals that were created just as he positioned both of them higher just a little bit lower than Himself but definitely higher than the angels – Psa. 8:4-8. No wonder it is always about God loving man and never about God loving the angels. He just kept on showing His likeness and care for man by giving.
His love for man reflected also in His strong desire to bring man close to Himself. He wanted to always share His spiritual space with man just as He always thought positive things about man. Even in the sinful state of man, He never stopped showing love. His ultimate act of love was the giving of His only begotten son as a sacrificial lamb all in His attempt that man would not perish but have everlasting. But just as mentioned in the first part of this teaching, man has found it very difficult to reciprocate that love demonstrated by God and that has been the pain that the Almighty God has had to bear all through the ages. He did all that He did and He has been constantly asking what man has done for Him. Man at best loves Him alongside other gods and unfortunately He does not desire neither does he deserve that quality of love – Exo. 20:2. What He desires and deserves is total and exclusive love for Him which man has found difficult to give.
Jesus Christ demonstrated love for the disciples by caring for them for three and half years. His demonstrated love for them was so much that some of them never lacked as they never thought of going back to their professions all through the time he was with them. He sacrificed all to ensure their comfort, but in three and half days after his death, Simon Peter and some other disciples demonstrated their type of love for him when they left the work he had handed over to them and started loving themselves – Jn. 22:3. It took the appearance of Jesus Christ for him to know that he had stopped showing love for that same person that he swore to love for ever, even in death. Jesus Christ asked Peter only one question three times which was whether he (Peter) loved him (Jesus). The response of Peter that he loved him was met with the comment of Jesus Christ which was, “feed my sheep” – Jn. 21:15-17. Peter needed to be reminded that one of the ways to demonstrate love for Jesus was to give his time and resources for the continuation of the work of Jesus, something that Peter at that time was willing to give to himself and possibly his family members alone. To love God is to give to advance his cause on earth until he returns. You cannot love him only when you see or receive from him as love is not demonstrated when you receive but when you give. To profess love when receiving is to live in hypocrisy as love is demonstrated in giving genuinely. Jesus Christ told his disciples to demonstrate their love for him by keeping his Commandments – Jn. 14:15. The one that cannot give for the cause of the Almighty God and Jesus Christ cannot claim to love them both. The interest of both of them have to be sought and protected at all times. God wants to be worshipped while Jesus Christ desires that the message of salvation be taken to the nooks and crannies of the world – Mk. 16:15. Both desires must be the main act of Christians who claim to love both of them. Jesus Christ emphasised that anyone who wishes to follow him and his father must love both of them more than he loves himself or his father, mother, wife or children – Lk. 14:26; Matt. 19:28; 10:29.
It should be noted that the use of the word “hate”by Luke in the above reference does not mean, to wish them evil, but to have him placed higher than any family members, neighbours, and family members, on a scale of preference, with regards to likeness and care. In all situations, Jesus expects the interest of his father and himself should always come first as that is the way to demonstrate out love for both of them.
Meanwhile to love our neighbour, which is the second part of the summary of the law that Jesus gave is premised on loving ourselves. It simply rates the level of love that each one must express for a fellow being on the ability of each person. The quality of love to be expressed cannot be lower than what is in the capability of the person, that is, what he/she can shower on him/her self. Whether Agape or Philial, Jesus Christ expects that we love our neighbour to the extent to which we love.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians expatiated on this level of love when he informed them that whatever Christian act that is not founded or includes love will not be rewarded. There has to be an indication of likeness and care in every Christian act for it to be deserving of a divine reward. According to him, the Christian who wishes to demonstrate love for his/her neighbour must be patient with such at all times, must not envy but be kind to such a neighbour, will not display pride or speak boastfully to his/her neighbour. Such will not be rude to the neighbour just as he/she will not be expected to be self-seeking and not easily angered. Such a Christian will not be expected to keep record of wrong doings and will not delight in evil but rejoice with truth. He rounds up his recommended standard of love that the Christian should give with the following; such must always protect, trust, hope and persevere he/she claims to love. He is of no doubt that everything else will fail but love, for God and neighbour never fails – 1Cor. 13:4-8. Indeed, LOVE NEVER FAILS. No matter what picture of negativity that the expressed act of love may present, it should be known to the Christian that with love, there is no failure.
The disciple John states clearly that the expressed love for neighbour is as important as the expressed love for God. He stressed that no one can claim to love God when he dislikes or worse still hates his neighbour (1Jn. 4:20-21), infact, as far as he is concerned, the one that does not love remains in death – 1Jn. 3:14-15.
Christians MUST learn to love, not just the Almighty God and his son Jesus Christ, but also love all who they come across (those are the neighbours) and this love cannot be verbal. It must be expressed in likeness and care – 1Jn. 3:18.
In summary, Christian Love is love as defined by the expressed actions of the Almighty God for man right from creation until the present age. Even His rebuke is a product of love as it is aimed at making us live a life that will continue to endear us to Him – Heb. 12:6.
Christian Love is love as defined by the sacrifice that Christ made for us where he left all his heavenly glory to die a shameful death so we can be saved from eternal damnation – Isa. 53:2-5.
Christians will therefore be expected to demonstrate their act of love by not only reciprocating this acts of love by the Almighty God and His son by
1. Worshipping the Almighty God with all they have and making His request the priority at all times.
2. Observing all the commandments that Christ gave concerning Christian standards and more importantly heralding the message of Christ as much as they are able.
3. Expressing love for their neighbours in the manner that the Almighty God and His son both loved and using the standards listed by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. May the Almighty God grant us all the ability to love in Jesus name. Amen.
This concludes this two part series of teaching on Love And The Christian. Please send your reactions to firstname.lastname@example.org or our Whatsapp number – +234 817 834 2585.
You can also download the entire teaching and other materials from the following site: www.crossandcrownchristianministry.org.