It has been said that, “Life reduced to fellowship with Christ makes the complicated simple.” This is true. But what of the priority within that fellowship, that supreme motive and power for living? It is simply, the love of God. The whole plan, and realization of the work of redemption, “…from the creation of the world,” was brought to pass ultimately because of one thing…the love of God. “For God SO LOVED that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jn. 3:16) When we look at Sodom and Gomorrah, and see the destruction of these towns, we discover that there is no love there…no manifested, selfless love of God. The contrary is true. The whole of that society was consumed by self-love, and the satisfaction of self-centered, selfish desire. Jesus, in speaking of the last days, and the consequent judgement, “…and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12) It seems that as true, selfless love diminishes in a society, judgment is not far off. So, how important is love? And how do we know that we truly love?
It is an amazing scene where Jesus is eating a meal with his disciples on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, and this, after the resurrection. Jesus specifically turns and addresses Peter who had denied Him three times. There is no rebuke in his address, no chastisement. But there is a very poignant question asked that goes to the heart of life’s main consideration: “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?” (Jn. 21:15) The first thing to note here is that Jesus addresses Peter in a very singular manner. He calls Peter by his name. Secondly, Jesus speaks of “love” as being the primary and most important subject to be considered. Now, it must be noted that the verb for love here that Jesus uses is that used when speaking of the love of God, something Peter knew and felt, but which was foreign to his personal experience and practice. The Apostle Paul uses this same verb in speaking of love in 1 Corinthians 13. He declares, that in the absence of this experiential love of God, one’s words, whether they be of men or angels, are “….as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” He goes on to say that one can have the gifts of prophecy, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, …even having the faith to remove mountains, but not have this love, the declaring,”…I am NOTHING.” Even the act of offering all to feed the poor, and giving one’s body to be burned in the sacrifice for one’s faith and service, “…and not have love, “…it profits me NOTHING.” (v.1-3) What must we grasp in the consideration of this matter of love?
First, we must come to grips with the fact that Love is the greatest manifestation of the holy, and blessed character and nature of God. John says, “God IS love.” (1 Jn. 4:8) There is no moment when He is not love. Every vestige of human love on this earth is the result of a Higher Love, which has revealed itself in one way or another in and through creation, but primarily in the sacrifice of Christ, and the cost to the Father. So, it follows that Love is the first thing. Secondly, the whole of redemption was accomplished so that humanity should not only know ABOUT this love, but know the experience of it. The man who is most like Christ is the one who loves most by His love, by His Spirit. Peter had risen about as high as one could rise in human, natural love and affection for someone, for he did love Christ. He declared it. But he could not rise to the standard of Christ’s calling. He had to learn that that was only possible BY THE SPIRIT, for the fruit of the Spirit, the very evidence of His life in our own, is the imparting of that love.
Dear Father, give us to see the priority of Love, and cause it to ABOUND in our hearts in all wisdom and knowledge, that we may approve things that are excellent. And Lord, enable us to follow Thee out of love for Thee. May our highest aspiration, and motive, be to love Thee by the Spirit, and in turn, to love those around us in like manner. “Love through me, Love of God; There is no love in me; O Fire of love, light Thou the love, that burns perpetually.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.