PASTOR'S PEN: Just as He loved

“Love is love.” What? Is anything that I decide is love actually love? Let’s take a look at what Christ did for us out of love.

John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” Out of love God gave His Son. He gave what most any parent would never give. He gave what was a part of Him and what was most important, Jesus. And Jesus, who is God the Son, left a place where He was glorified and worshipped and honored. He left a place of perfection to come down to earth. We are told in Philippians 2:7-8 that “He made Himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”

Wow! That is love! Giving of yourself completely for someone that doesn’t deserve it and someone that is actually your enemy! (Romans 5:10) Jesus Christ left His home, family and comfortable life to suffer, be looked down on, spat upon, beaten and suffer before dying for those of us that hated Him. Love isn’t just doing things for those who are good to you, but doing good for those who won’t even thank you.

But it goes on, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loved us enough to save us and give us something better. We can go from the death penalty to life forever. Love gives way more than it gets in return. I mean, seriously, is God really getting much of a return on that? I don’t have anything I can give to truly pay Him back. Many times I even spit in His face again by the way I act, think and talk. Yet, He still gives me more than I deserve …out of love.

So God gave up more and gives more. That’s a lot to ask of love. But perhaps I do that — or perceive that I do. Is it still love? Take one last look. John 3:20-21, just a little further down, says this, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light ...” Christ came from heaven and gave up so much and gave us so much so that we might not stay in the dark deeds of wickedness, but that we could have them revealed and changed by God Himself. One who comes to Christ now recognizes sin and runs from it. This person is “a new creation … the old has gone, the new is here”. (2 Corinthians 5:17) True love doesn’t just say, “I love you as you are. Keep doing what is wrong.” True love says, “I love you where you’re at. Let’s move onto something better.”

As you stand in the midst of Christmas and remember what God did for you out of love, how are you loving others? Do you willingly give up more than expected? Do you give more than you’ll get back? And do you walk with others from darkness into light? Love, not simply with grand statements; but with God-honoring, overwhelming action. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)