A talk about encountering the love of God and then being the encounter with God’s love that others so desperately need:
I recently came back from a men’s retreat. As soon as I got home I started judging in my heart other guys that I knew who had no interest in serving or loving God. I got angry… and then I realized something. These guys just don’t know how much Jesus loves them and some don’t even know that he loves them at all. We cannot and should not expect anyone to love Jesus or serve Jesus without first encountering his love. Right? After all, “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John)
But, in our self seeking and sinful hearts, we tend to avoid the love of God like the plague. Even as Christians we sidestep his love, avoid intimacy, and incessantly distract ourselves from God’s love. I think many of us are afraid of the perceived “strings attached” to his love (little knowing that there aren’t any – please disagree with me and comment if you can think of any), OR, that we will only disappoint God.
This is one of my greatest fears. That I will fail him. That I will be a sad disappointment to him. And that he will abandon me. I fear his rejection. But here’s the truth that calmed this fear:
Jesus suffered all of my rejection for me already.
Yes, I absolutely deserved rejection by this Holy God because of all the shameful things I’ve thought, done and said but I can instead rest assured of God’s glad welcome and open arms for me!
So, what are we so afraid of? 1 John 4 tells us that God’s perfect love drives out all fear. Don’t you find it odd that the very think we avoid because of fear is the very thing that will drive out all fear?
Do we trust him? Do we believe that God loves us so much that he would rather die than to be without us? Why don’t we really believe he has our best interests at heart?
It seems to me that most people hold out from giving ourselves or surrendering to God’s love and instead pursue the fleeting pleasures that sin can offer us, little knowing that it is our sin that prevents us from experiencing the lasting pleasure of knowing God and his love.
God’s challenge for us is this: “I dare you to trust in my love for you. Just the way you are.”
Say it with me. “God, I trust you. Jesus, I receive your love.”
We need to be pursuing encounters with the love of God. While it is awesome to get alone in prayer and experience the love of Jesus, or to seek out an encounter with Jesus and his love in a time of worship, we often neglect the best way and the way Jesus reveals to us to experience and to remain in the love of Jesus. It is simply this: To be the experience and encounter of God’s love to others. This is the very thing Jesus tells us is the primary way to experience his love.
“Abide in my love”, Jesus says. How? “By keeping my commands”, Jesus says. What are your commands? “To love others”, Jesus says. (John 15)
I was reminded of the story of Jean Valjean and his encounter with the priest in Les Miserables (Read a really insightful blog about this story here):
“The story starts in 1815 in Digne. The peasant Jean Valjean has just been released from imprisonment in the Bagne of Toulon after nineteen years (five for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family, and fourteen more for numerous escape attempts). Upon being released, he is required to carry a yellow passport that marks him as a prisoner, despite having already paid his debt to society by serving his time in prison. Rejected by innkeepers, who do not want to take in a convict, Valjean sleeps on the street. This makes him even angrier and more bitter.
However, the benevolent Bishop Myriel, the bishop of Digne, takes him in and gives him shelter. In the middle of the night, Valjean steals Bishop Myriel’s silverware and runs away. He is caught and brought back by the police, but Bishop Myriel rescues him by claiming that the silverware was a gift and at that point gives him his two silver candlesticks as well, chastising him to the police for leaving in such a rush that he forgot these most valuable pieces. After the police leave, Bishop Myriel then “reminds” him of the promise, which Valjean has no memory of making, to use the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself.” (From Wikipedia)
This “encounter” with the grace and love of God changed Jean Valjean’s life. We too can be encounters with the love of God that others need for it is only the love of Jesus that can transform our lives and make us into the loving people God created us to be.
So, what do you think? Does this ring true? How will this affect your approach to experiencing the love of Jesus?
- He Is Not An Option To Me (ubebetternotbitter.wordpress.com)
- God’s Love Stretches Our Love (todaysfreshmanna.wordpress.com)
- Love Conquers All….. (foodforthespiritualsoul.wordpress.com)
- From My Friend Nicole (saltthroughlight.wordpress.com)
- God’s Love Is Unconditional (tiltedcandle.wordpress.com)
- Safe in God’s Love (genesisone.wordpress.com)