Part 2: Love…God’s Way
Written By: Clarissa Mangaran
“In Christ you have been brought to fullness.” (Colossians 2:10)
We’re in danger of believing that Christ alone isn’t enough. People are searching for something to give their lives meaning and purpose. We think we’ll find it in marriage or children, or a successful career, or a certain dress size, or lots of friends. However, those are all idols with an empty promise. By looking to the things of this world – the created instead of the Creator – we’re left with a longing that isn’t satisfied.
Personal fulfillment can only be found when we’re united with Jesus through our faith. Jesus died a horrific death to cover our sins, to pay the debt of death – a result of our sins. Let that sink in. God’s love is all-encompassing, sacrificial, unconditional, forgiving, full of grace and mercy, unrelenting, and eternal. That’s the kind of love He gives, and that’s the kind of love we’re to pour out on others. It’s impossible. But with the gift of the Holy Spirit, He makes it possible for us to love others in a godly way. We can’t do it in our own strength. We’re too selfish. We need the Holy Spirit.
I ended Part I with Proverbs 9:10. (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”) It is paramount that we recognize and subsequently come under God’s authority. The first chapter of Colossians talks about the supremacy of Christ. The Word is very clear about who Jesus is. We can’t make Him into an image we want. Whether we believe it or not, what the Bible says is true. We’ll all face God in end, and we’ll be held accountable for ourselves, not anyone else. You may not agree with what you read in Scripture and you may not like what He commands you to do, but it doesn’t make His Word any less true.
“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given to us in the One He loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Ugh! I could keep going! The language is so beautiful. You must read all of Ephesians 1:3-14! But the point I want to make is that nothing happens outside of God’s sovereignty. We don’t even accept Christ as our Lord and Savior without Him choosing us first! We have free will to choose Him or reject Him, but in His sovereignty He knew we would accept Him, and so, He chose us.
We can live for Christ by:
- Committing your life and submitting your will to Him. (Romans 12:1-2)
- Seeking to learn from Him, His life and His teachings.
- Recognizing the Holy Spirit’s power in you. (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:22)
We must be rooted in the Jesus of the Bible! Like plants drawing nourishment from the soil, we draw life-giving water from Jesus. We can then pour out godly love onto others from the overflow of living water.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
We’re being transformed with unveiled faces because we’re beholding God’s glory. Moses’ face shined with light after being in God’s presence, and he put a veil over his face to hide the fact that it would eventually fade away. The result of the Resurrection was the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for every believer. We don’t need to put a veil over our faces because the light shining through us does not fade; as believers, we have the constant presence of God! To behold God’s glory we need only to go to His Word according to 2 Peter 1:16-21. Hebrews 4:12-13 says that His Word is alive and active! So as we read His Word, and offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2), and He transforms us. This happens in everyday life!
A Life Transformed….A New Self
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only about a relationship with our Lord and Savior; it’s also about transformation, for us as individuals as well as the Church body. Colossians tells us that in Jesus all things were created through Him and for Him, and that all things hold together in Him. Idolatry is described as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. God’s wrath is coming because of these things. Our sin made us enemies of God, but through Jesus we are reconciled to the Father. Before you go and think that doesn’t apply to you, remember: every single one of us sins (Romans 3:9-20). When we accept Christ we die to that old sinful self, and we’re saved from God’s wrath, which we all deserve because of our sin. God’s mercy and grace is so great that in Christ, we’re forgiven and made clean! Run…flee from sin! To avoid going back to that old life of idolatry, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. It’s an on going process until we become glorified in Heaven.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praise-worthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 [emphasis added])
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)
As image-bearers of God, we should be presenting ourselves to the fallen world in a way that accurately portrays godly character. Unfortunately, when we mistreat others we bear a false image of God. When God’s creation does what He designed it to do, it brings Him glory. A rock being a rock brings God glory because that’s what He designed it to do. When we simply love God and love one another we bring Him glory because that’s what He designed us to do (Matthew 22:36-40).
Last month, I was going through a unit on the Underground Railroad with my children, and in it we learned about the Abolitionists who put themselves in danger to care for and help runaway slaves fleeing for freedom during the 1800’s. According to Matthew 25:40, “…as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” In that time, those runaway slaves were certainly the “least of these.” And when those Abolitionists showed them love, they were also showing love to Jesus.
In our daily interactions with people (especially our family), it’s important to keep in mind that we are image-bearers of God. It’s easy to get irritated with my children when they are misbehaving, but I can love them in a godly way when I remind myself that they are His children first and He is in them, and that I want to show them what God’s love looks like through how I treat them. The Abolitionists’ love had a high cost. They could have been imprisoned or even killed. Will we love those around us so sacrificially and compassionately when we’re not even facing any danger?
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous: love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8,12-13)
The lie we’ve been sold on “love” is that it is based on emotions, and that it’s highly conditional. It exists when you feel it and it’s over when you don’t. As soon as the other person isn’t doing what you want or making you happy, your “love” is done. No wonder there are so many broken relationships in this world! Who would want that kind of counterfeit “love”?! So many people live out their entire lives deprived of their deepest need for God’s love – love that is unconditional, eternal, sacrificial, forgiving, gentle, all-consuming, and sovereign. It’s not that His love isn’t available. They just reject it, and settle for idols that will never satisfy them. It’s a devastating trade.
So many relationships, especially marriages deteriorate under the weight of counterfeit “love.” Add in the struggles of a military marriage and you have a recipe for disaster, and everyone involved are the casualties. Real love for others comes from an outpouring of knowing we are truly free in Christ when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Our ability to love comes from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It’s an action and attitude, a decision to act in the best interests of others.
Don’t be like chaff in the wheat. There are people out there who look and act like they’re followers of Christ, but they’re hollow. They have no fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). When the winds of hard circumstances come they blow away. We must be rooted in the Jesus of the Bible, built up in Him, and strengthened by our faith in Him.
We have a new identity. We are one of God’s chosen people, holy, and dearly loved. We must choose to be controlled by the Holy Spirit daily and clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. Only when we receive God’s love can we do all these things; it’s what binds all those things together. Colossians tells us to let peace and thankfulness rule your heart. Let the Word dwell within you through worshipping God with your whole self. Not only in your daily actions but in the way you love those around you.
Written By: Clarissa Mangaran