|Photo from Living Grace Fellowship|
God loves all humanity so much that He made us the focus of His love. God loves me so much that I am the focus of His love.
What affect does, or should, that have on me?
I read a compelling post on this very topic by John Piper over at Desiring God. I want to look at 3 quotes from that post here:
"I think, if you said to the average American student that “being loved” is not an experience that terminates on you, they would look at you with perplexity and wonder: Where else would it terminate? I’m the one being loved. How could it not finally be about me? That’s why it feels so good — someone finally took notice of me. Cared for me. Valued me. And that sense is so strong and so natural and so obvious to most people that the thought that there might be a better way to be loved, a more satisfying way to be loved, a stronger way, is simply inconceivable."
"God loved us in eternity before we were created, and he planned to make us his children by adoption. And the aim of this love was “the praise of the glory of his grace.” He loved us this way that we might praise his grace. The ultimate aim of our adoption is the glorifying of adopting grace. A regenerate person loves to praise God’s grace in our adoption. A nominal Christian simply loves the natural benefits of adoption."
"The final decisive question is: Why does God, who loves us so much, and who makes much of us so extremely, remind us again and again that he does all this for his own glory? Why does God remind us over and over that he makes much of us in a way that is designed ultimately to make much of him?
The answer is this: Loving us this way is a greater love. God’s love for us, that makes much of us for his glory, is a greater love than if he ended by making us our greatest treasure, rather than himself. Making himself our end is a greater love than making us his end. The reason this is greater love is that self, no matter how glorified by God (Romans 8:30), will never satisfy a heart that is made for God. God loves you infinitely. He sent his Son to die that he might have you, and that you might have him (1 Peter 3:18). He will not let you settle for wonderful and happy thoughts of self. Not even a saved, glorified self. He will not let your glory, which he himself creates and delights in, replace his glory as your supreme treasure. That would not be love."
2 Corinthians 5:14 notes that: For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (NIV)
Roy Allen notes that this word compel "means to powerfully urge along a line of conduct. Force is not involved, but some impulse is so great that it evokes a strong intellectual and emotional inclination to respond appropriately. In this case, the impulse is the love of Christ, which is so immense that it demands a response as complete and radical as His love for us."
So, what does a complete and radical response to this great love look like?
Matthew 22:34-40 records when a lawyer asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment and was told that the first is for us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is for us to love our neighbor like ourselves.
Jason Rouchie makes the point that "From the heart “flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23), and without one’s will, desires, passions, affections, perceptions, and thoughts rightly aligned, the life of love is impossible"
How do I align my will, desires, passions, affections, perceptions, and thoughts?
The only way I know if through prayer, reading the Word, and gratitude. By taking time each day to bare my heart before the Lord, to be quiet, and lean in to Him. By reading His Word and thinking about it. When I watch a movie, scenes from it will play over in my mind. When I become entrenched in the Word, it changes the way I think. Living a life a gratitude causes me to look at things differently. Gratitude causes me to be on the look out for ways God is blessing me each day and to express my appreciation.
Loving people rides on the heels of loving God because God loves people.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 tell me that I am to have a ministry of reconciliation. To reconcile means to win over to friendliness, to bring into agreement or harmony, to restore.
I adore the way Peterson paraphrases some of the word in Philippians 4:4-5 by saying that we're to Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.
These are the kinds of activities my life should be about. As I'm thinking of this some very specific life situations come to my mind:
- My medical director at work who's always trying to pull me into his alliances against other doctors or my DON. I need to stop speaking poorly about him. I need to speak words to him of ways we can work together.
- I need to not get upset at my husband when he does little things that I find irritating. I need to pray for God's strength in me to over look offenses and work to be strongly united.
- I need to seek to work together with my DON at work and leave the many problems with her integrity, manipulations and lying to God.
- I need to ask the Holy Spirit to make me aware of when I'm getting an attitude toward people or looking down on them. To quicken a desire in me to want everyone's good.