Love Matters

by Annie Brown

True Love Defined

Love, in its truest form, extends beyond a mere feeling or emotion. Agape love that is uncovered and experienced through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is unflawed and unending. It does not compete with even the most meaningful connection or the longest marriage in recorded history. The love of Christ is not earned, and it is not merited based on the efforts of a saint.

The love of Christ is best observed in the completed work of the cross. Our beloved Savior fulfilled a long-awaited prophecy in his radical obedience to God the Father. The crucifixion of the Lord is the most breathtaking act of love that mankind will ever behold.

For the individual questioning their worth and value, I urge you, dear friend, to look no further than the devastating beauty of Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus of Nazareth did not die for only those who would come to saving faith in him. Nor did he lay down his life for the morally strong and obedient. The Lord surrendered on the cross for those who will never trust him and for those who blaspheme his name. A sinful humanity was laid upon his shoulders, and every past, present, and future sin was felt in its crippling magnitude. You are loved to the point of death, and there will never be a more perfect gift to receive. John 3:16 reminds us that the free gift of salvation is available to all who will simply believe and come to Jesus.

True Love is a Choice

Our obedience to God the Father is a choice. It should overflow from our deep love for him. If one is struggling to relinquish the lesser things of their previous life, perhaps there is a limiting belief about God’s love. The enemy taunts us with the notion that satisfaction and love are best experienced in worldliness and selfish ways. Satan makes us question whether or not our needs will be met in a relationship with the Father. Though the created things may feel good for a moment, there is an overflow and abundance of all that is truly good when in an intimate relationship with the Creator himself.

We have a choice to make when it comes to love. In response to the nation of Israel’s disobedience, Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says “I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for here is the life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” In our free will, we have the choice to follow Christ. It is a decision of faith, love, and obedience when we commit to serve him for eternity. The beauty of choosing life in Christ is that we will be covered in his love. Life and love in Jesus beautifully coexist.

This idea of choosing to love and be loved is evident in our other relationships. Within marriage, it is a daily choice to serve your spouse in love. In our flawed nature, there are times when this can feel almost impossible. Christ in us is the reason we can love the unlovable and forgive even the costliest of sins.

Furthermore, I believe that we can visualize God’s love in nurturing babies. In the early hours of morning when newborn cries flood our home, we experience an overwhelming sense of adoration. In their helpless infancy, we supply all their needs out of unconditional love. There is nothing that our children can do to make us love them more or less. This is the heart of God the Father, only his love will never fail or run out. Even in parenthood, most of us have the subtle desire to one day receive something in return. Perhaps it is a verbal expression of thanks or an honorable mention at a grown child’s wedding. The Lord loves us regardless of what we do or do not do. He has completely covered us in eternal love. Our chosen response should be cheerful obedience and authentic worship.

True Love is Powerful

First John chapter four explains that perfect love casts out fear. The familiar passage goes on to say that the one who fears has not been perfected in love. Fear is a stronghold that runs deep and has complex roadways in our lives. Oftentimes, we fail to acknowledge fear for what it is. Fear is attached to our human frailty. It is talked about in Scripture time after time, and it is obvious that God did not intend for us to live in such a way. It will take residency within us because our belief system does not extend beyond us. If we, as Christ-followers are walking in worry, there is something about God’s love that we are not believing to be true.

Not only is fear overcome by the love of God, but every other stronghold is as well. Shame from our past is a tactic that Satan uses to weigh us down. Being ashamed steals our joy and the opportunity to experience true freedom in Christ. As we grasp the love of God and step into the invitation of grace, we are met with a mighty embrace. We all have a common longing for a father’s affirmation and acceptance. For some, our earthly fathers provided this wonderfully. Others had very absent fathers growing up and still face the challenges of that today. Our perfect heavenly Father welcomes us and covers our shame in his loving kindness.

Discipline and correction also flow from God’s true love. Good fathers correct poor behavior because they love their children and have their best interests at heart. The Lord is faithful to cover our shame by sanctifying us. As we are refined to look more like Christ, we can forget the things of our past and move ahead in renewed hope for the future. God’s judgment and conviction are his protection.

Generational curses are broken by the power of God’s love. New generations of Christ-followers are birthed by the splendor of God’s love. Revivals and movements of faith happen by the magnitude of God’s love. Jesus is love. If not for his love, we would be lost sheep. It is the love of God that leads us to repentance. His love welcomes us home and propels us to bring others as well.

True love is found in the person of Christ. It is the foundation on which strong marriages and friendships are built. It penetrates to the core of our existence and changes everything about who we thought we were. The love of God is unending and unearned in its fullest extent. His love is breathtaking and glorious, and it is for both you and me.

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