An Article of Faith
By Evangelist Nidicka Frederick
The word love has become a word confined to unrealistic, romanticized ideals and not the unconditional state that God has exemplified through His creation of mankind, preservation of the world and gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How far has the world moved from truly knowing what love is? Let’s look at just a couple of examples…Love has been something reduced to contest as seen on many popular television shows in which the grand prize of a marriage ceremony is granted after several weeks of scripted affair. Love is reduced to materialism in a society which values the accumulation of wealth over the welfare of its citizens. We could even propose that love is volatile, aggressive and angry as witness in our younger generation’s enchantment with relationships that make for good headlines in magazines that are marked by domestic violence, multiple partners, lacks of commitment, and the anticipation of children born into immediate celebrity status but not into the legacy of a God-fearing family.
As a generation, we have done much to the sanctity of love. As far removed as we have become from knowing what love is; we have also fallen short of remembering what love is not. As we engage in our personal relationships, the word love is often spoken but is it as readily used? Love is, after all, an action verb too which will often require us to test our understanding of what God calls love to be in His Kingdom. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, that is to say as Christians, we have to follow the example and laws of the King. This means that we don’t have the luxury to manipulate the law to what we want it to mean, but we as trusting citizens of a sovereign King we live out the law as it was set forth. This thinking alone would immediately tell many of us we might need to re-think our approach to how we perceive (receive and return) love. Let’s take it to the Word of God-
1 John 5:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
We could stay on this one scripture indefinitely! Loving God means that we keep his commandments and to do so joyfully. I’ll continue to draw from my personal life but feel free to draw on your own; if I claim to be a Christian, yet I am living my life in opposition to God’s example, then I do not know love. Let me be specific here; to claim to love God while refusing to forgive, holding on to grudges, living in sinful relationships, engaging in illegal activities whether embellishing on income taxes or defrauding public welfare- if you are living corrupt regardless of how socially acceptable, then you do not love God. Saying something does not make a statement true; truth has to be lived, witnessed, and revealed.
Read Ephesians 5. We are children of God and that honor comes with an expectation of behavior from us that represent God. We are to be imitators of Christ. So this means what you feel, what you think, what you believe, what your flesh desires has to fall short of self and rise to the level of Christ! It’s not about you; you are the imitator, not the example! Christians are not supposed to contradict the character of Christ!
Let’s look at the Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NLT)
9 When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer[a]yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
Notice that Paul’s purpose to writing the church at Corinth was to address the behaviors in the body of Christ. He was responding to those who were supposed to have accepted Christ, yet continued to misrepresent Jesus Christ with their unacceptable and immoral behavior. How many people do we encounter in our family, in our workplace, in our children’s school and in our church pews who persistently misrepresent Christ by their declaration of Christianity? My examples are both personal and painful but plentiful nonetheless. We all know people like this, in fact, we are people like this at times which is why we all need Christ so desperately. God provided us with correction because He knows that we are sinners but to claim to love the Lord and then to behave rudely and non-repentant is of great offense of God.
Continuing in the spirit of correction, the Apostle Paul offered a message of hope to the church by sharing with them the power of love. Paul closes 1 Corinthians 12 with the statement, “…now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.” (1 Corinthians 12:31 NLT) Paul then opens 1 Corinthians 1:13 with an explanation of love the way God teaches it.
Love Is the Greatest 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
To experience love the way Paul ascribes it is to be true representatives of Christ. We must abandon our own, self-righteous versions of what we want to call love and start desiring to experience the love that Christ has first shown us. This is not coming from me, but from the word of God. There are relationships in my life which are still broken but it’s not about me; it’s about my determination to show love-even in rejection, to God’s glory I believe what Paul says so I will never apologize from seeking every day to live in Christ example. It is because of my love of Christ and the realization that Christ first love me that in my personal broken relationships, I will never give up, never lose faith and I will endure in every circumstance. I don’t give love because others “deserve” to be loved, I give love because I have been loved while yet I undeserved.
Many people are heartbroken because they are experiencing unrequited love. Whether going through divorce, separation, loss from death, family differences, broken relationships or the like…I pray for you to always hold on to love because God is love. There is no such thing as unrequited love in the body of Christ because God loves you beyond measure. In fact, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT)
Take a moment and pray and ask God to speak to your heart about love. Maybe you are in love with someone who married or in a relationship. Maybe you are in an estranged relationship with a family member or friend. Perhaps you are broken hearted over the death of a loved one or mourning separation from break-up or divorce… Regardless where you stand right now, you are not alone! I am challenging you to stand on the Word of God. Imitate Christ and agree right now to abandon your rendition of love that misrepresents our Lord and Savior. Repent of your sins to Christ in assurance of His unconditional love and mercy. And keep and open heart for anyone who may have offended you in the past but is seeking forgiveness and a way back into your life. If we could work each day to forgive, love, and hold on in faith- this world would become unrecognizable in a good way. Don’t let TV shows, material desires or celebrities define to your children and family what love looks like; instead let your actions as exemplified by Christ be their guide to genuine love.
Once we learn how to make God the love of our lives, loving others (including those who don’t know how to show love in return) becomes much easier. So I’ll leave you with this-
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
With love (and I mean it)
Evangelist Nidicka Frederick