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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Part 3: Living Out Love

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11

As Jesus was on the cross, people continued to mock Him saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God." (Matthew 27:42-43) But Jesus, after they crucified Him, prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) Are we this quick to forgive those who have wronged us?

Technically, we were among those who cried out "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" We might never have said those exact words, but how many times do we deny Christ by our actions, thoughts, and motives each day? But God did the unthinkable for us: Romans 5:6-8 says, "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

So how can we as sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God continue to live as though we have not? When someone ridicules us or treats us unfairly, what do we do? We do unto them as they did unto us. People, I am pretty sure that what Jesus went through was not at all fair. That should have been you and me on that cross! Yet we can whine and moan and complain because someone else was treated with more respect or given more than we were?!

How different does this say we are from the world? Didn't Jesus say that people will know that we are His disciples by how we love one another? Are we not to love with the same love which Jesus has lavished upon us (John 13:34-35)?  G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “It is crucified man that can preach the cross.  Said Thomas ‘except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails…I will not believe.’…what Thomas said of Christ, the world is saying about the church.  And the world is also saying to every preacher:  Unless I see in your hands the print of the nails, I will not believe.  It is true.  It is the man…who has died with Christ…that can preach the cross of Christ.” People are watching us. What are we saying through our lives- through how we love? Are we being true witnesses of the Gospel or are we giving a wrong impression?

Peter gives an excellent explanation of how and why our lives ought to follow the example of Christ in 1 Peter 2:18-25. "Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." 

Brothers and sisters, I am not saying that it is easy to love others the way Christ loved us. And I by no means have even come close to understanding and applying this to my own life, BUT this is what we should strive for. We have been given too much to neglect it, and I believe that if we focus on the greatness of Christ's love for us that He will graciously empower us to love like Him.

Christ-like love is unfading. That kind of love NEVER fails, because it is not about how good we are today or how bad we are tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I want to love like that.

Lord, help us to understand the magnitude of Your love for us so that we may love others in the same way in order to give them the hope of the Greatest Love Story Of All Time.

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