Love is the most powerful force in existence. Love can do what nothing else can do, it can tame the heart. Love has the power to change you.
God created us in his image and in his likeness and so we can understand love. God is love, and we can know and understand him. When we read a love story where two people love each other more than themselves we can understand what that means. We can share their love. We are moved by their love. We are creatures of love.
I can remember when I was about twelve or thirteen years old and I was riding on a school bus. My friends and I were making fun of the bus driver, and saying all sorts of mean things. As I was getting off the bus I had to go by him and I felt guilty for the things I had said and done, and I sort of looked sideways at the driver, expecting him to be furious with me. The bus driver evidently was unaware of anything I had said, and smiled at me with a look of pure love and happiness. I was cut to the heart. To this day I have never done anything like that again. I felt so small. The thought of treating someone badly, who might love me like that again, was inconceivable. I didn't know that bus driver, never even knew his name, but his smile knocked me flat. Love has the power to do that. Love has the power to change your heart.
What does it mean to love someone? I mean really love them; to be willing to give up your life for them. Do you understand what I am saying? Do you know what I mean? To love with such fullness that pleasing the other is the only thing that matters. To see a smile on the other person fills your heart with joy. To be the cause of that smile causes your heart to skip a beat.
I know that you do know what that means. I know that you do know what I am talking about. Maybe you have never been loved that way, or maybe you have never loved another that way, but you do know what I am talking about. You do understand love. I also know that you want someone to love you that way. I know this because you are human--created in the image and likeness of God. You were designed to love and to be loved.
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. (NIV)
Please let me paraphrase this passage and see if I can't make it a little clearer.
"Jesus, what is the most important thing we can get out of the Bible?"
"The most important thing is to come to love God with every ounce of yourself, and to come to love the people you meet like you love yourself."
Now the love Jesus is talking about here is the total love we fantasize about, and read about in books, and we see in movies and such; the kind of love that occupies your mind so that you find yourself thinking of him whenever your mind in not actively doing something. You know, when nothing's happening, and you kind of gaze out the window, and marvel on how good God is. Do you ever do that? I do, and I do it all the time.
This is what Jesus is talking about. This is for real. Now maybe you haven't considered this. Maybe you thought that the Bible is about religion. Maybe you thought it was about building awe inspiring buildings and lighting candles and such. Maybe you thought it was about not drinking alcohol, or coffee, or dressing in nice clothes. Maybe you thought it was about how good a person you are, or how smart you are, or what a good job you have. Or maybe you thought it was about having a good spouse and lots of children.
The Bible is not really about any of these things. It is about getting to know God, so that you can love him, and you becoming like him. It's about love.
Now what I am about to say I have written about before, but it is very important, so I will say it again, and this is that God is not who you think he is, but he is who he is. You might be thinking that I just said something stupid, but I have not. It is very important. People are forever trying to mold the Bible into what they think, rather than seeking God, and allowing God to reveal himself to them.
The nature of my ministry is outside the normal church thing. God has shown me many wonderful things. He has clarified many inconsistencies in various church doctrines. The Lord has enabled me, and charged me, to speak to and write to church leaders in regards to some of these erroneous doctrines. Few listen, because they love church doctrine more than Jesus Christ. They would rather please men than God. They would rather have the security of numbers than stand alone with God.
My friends, narrow is the road that leads to heaven and few are those upon it. In a human marriage there is one person that takes precedence over all the others--your spouse. If you habitually displease your spouse in order to please your friends, then you've got your priorities wrong. In our union with God, God's pleasure is supreme. If you would rather stick with church doctrine, to be accepted by the congregation, rather than be in harmony with the truth, then you've got your priorities wrong.
If you love the Lord Jesus Christ then you will stand with him even if you are the only person on the planet that does so. If you love him you will change your understanding of scripture to agree with what the Bible actually says. To know what it actually says you must open your heart and read it. You must draw near to God and let him reveal himself to you.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (NIV)
...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (NIV)
We must search out for the real God. We must look for him, and get to know him. He is not one kind of person over here and another kind of person over there.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NIV)
When what we understand agrees with the whole Bible, then we understand; then we know something of God.
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (NIV)
Seeking out God and loving him go hand-in-hand. This seeking of God is a personal thing. You, yourself, must get to know God. You must care enough for the truth to go looking for it.
Forget about church doctrines. Desire to know the true God. Forget about getting everything right, and live to please the one you love. Forget ambition and be kind, be gentle, and patient. Be loving and helpful, trusting that God is in control.
If you belong to God then you have been given a new heart--born of love. It is now your heart's desire to love and be good. Now, I said "heart's" desire, and I mean exactly that. Your mind does not automatically change just because your heart has. Your mind is still filled with the same petty fears and habits. Your mind still listens to the bodies' cries for attention. Your mind doesn't know better, but you do, so you must make yourself resist the bodies' voice and seek to know God.
Let yourself be led by compassion and gentleness. Let yourself be led by goodness and love. Trust God to watch over you. Trust him when you fear. Trust in him. If someone is trying to take advantage of you, trust God, and be led by his Spirit.
If you really love God, then he will really love you, and see that only what you need comes upon you. Knowing this, you trust in it.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (NIV)
Those that love God, God loves, and raises to be like his first begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
The name that best describes God to us, his children, is Father. He is indeed a loving Father to those who are his.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (NIV)
So we should rest in our knowledge that our Father loves us, and disciplines us so that when finished, we should be like Him. We should be thankful for it, and because we know it is for our good we should quickly obey.
My friends, the point of this paper is to show that you do know how to love God and your fellow man, so I exhort you to do so. Doing so carries with it eternal benefits and results in a life that pleases God. If you claim to be a Christian, then you claim to love God, so living a life that pleases him is your hearts desire. You know how; God has made you able; do it.