Loving out of His Love

God is love[i]. Everything that He is and does emanate from this single truth- “He is love.” He has no favorites[ii], and He loves each one of us as if we were the only ones on this planet.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? So often, we measure the level of our belovedness based on factors like material blessings, financial prosperity, the absence of trials, and so on. But the truth is we were loved even before we were born, for when Christ died, He did it for the “whole world,”[iii] including those who were yet to come.

The Good Shepherd

The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep[iv]. He leaves the 99 sheep behind to look for one single lost sheep[v]. He leads them beside still waters and never leaves them even in the darkest valley[vi]. He is with them, loving them at all times.

Jesus is the good shepherd who loves every sheep in His herd, that is His church. It is not because of what the sheep does or is; it is because they are His sheep. We become His the moment we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, and every second after that, we are His responsibility, under His care.

Performance-based Love

Some may argue that the shepherd keeps the sheep for what he gets from them (literally speaking- wool, milk, and meat), but even if you look at an ordinary shepherd’s life, they put a lot more on the line than is visible. Guarding them against predators is one of the several critical aspects of shepherding. There is much more to lose- their own lives at times- than what is to be gained. And that’s what Jesus did- laid down His life for His sheep, His church.

The world’s love may be performance-oriented; it may ebb and flow in line with what we do for others or what others do to us. But the love of Jesus, the God-kind of love, is constant at all times cause it originates from the lover and not the loved.

I am loved because God is love.

You are loved because He is love.

Nothing in the whole universe can change this truth.

God’s love for us compelled Him to send His only begotten Son to die for us.

Jesus didn’t die so that we would start loving Him; He died cause He loved us.

His death wasn’t an appeal to be loved. On the contrary, it was the greatest demonstration of love that the world has ever seen or will see.

To die for one’s beloved can be justified, but to die for one’s enemies (which we were for all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God) is beyond ordinary human understanding.

We can not see the magnitude of what was accomplished on the cross unless we see it in the light of His love.

You Are Loved

Knowing how much we are loved is key to loving others the way we are loved. You can’t give something which you don’t have, and love is one of them. Abusive childhood, broken family, financial distress, departed loved ones- there can be a thousand reasons why one might not be able to see the goodness of God amidst their trials. And yet, God is good all the time, and His love endures forever[vii]. There is this song by ‘We the Kingdom,’ which inspires me every time I hear it. Every line is a fresh revelation of how much we are loved by Him.

 I set every star into place

So that you would remember my name

I made it all for you.

But you are my masterpiece

You are the reason I sing

This is my song for you!

Every star in the big black sky proclaims His Glory [viii]. The vast expanse of the universe declares His greatness, the masterful Creator of such grandeur, and yet He calls us humans His masterpiece[ix]! Nothing gives Him more delight than us, so much so that He sings over us with joy[x]!

Who can not feel prized and loved after reading these verses?! The Bible is full of His promises and even more so of His love letters to us. No matter what season we go through, His love for us is eternal and constant.

Walking on Water, Dancing on Waves

Like I shared in my previous blog, we will have our flesh to deal with as long as we are on the earth. Circumstances may not always be favorable, and there will be times when you just can not bring yourself to walk in love with others.  And yet the song goes-

Don’t be afraid I am your strength

We’ll be walking on the water

Dancing on the waves.

I can not love anyone out of my own will; at least, I can’t do so selflessly. Human love is often tainted with selfish ambition, some more subtle than others. But the love we have from Him, the God-kind of love, a.k.a. “Agape,” goes beyond human understanding and selfish motives.

Agape love empowers us to walk on water and dance of waves- which means to do the impossible.

Many in the world will never know love unless we love them. Some, like myself, might have been brought up in a performance-oriented family, where every grade, every rank equalized more love and appreciation. Others may feel unworthy of any form of love for reasons varying from low self-esteem to long-term abuse. And unless we choose to walk in love, they will stay in their prison of lies and deception.

Set the Captives Free

Jesus came to give us life in all its abundance; He came to set the captives free. When we look at ourselves, we might see a thousand blemishes, some more visible, others hidden in secret corners of our hearts. And yet, the thing to remember is that we are loved as we are. His love does compel us to be better versions of ourselves, but He never started loving us because we were good in the first place.

We love because He first loved us.

(1 John 4:19)

Knowing His love for you is key to setting yourself and others free of the bondage of performance-based love.  

You are loved, and you can love others because you are loved!

[i] 1 John 4:16

[ii] Acts 10:34

[iii] John 3:16

[iv] John 10:11

[v] Matthew 18:12, Luke15:4

[vi] Psalm 23

[vii] Psalm 107:1

[viii] Psalm 19:1

[ix] Psalm 139:14

[x] Zephaniah 3:17

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