Monday, August 16, 2010

People of Love

"But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him, though some of them were frightened at the same time. And all these came in at the Door, in on Aslan's right." ~ C.S. Lewis; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle

One of the undeniable truths of life is love has to be chosen. We cannot be made to love someone. Force does not inspire love in a other person. Love only appears when a person chooses, by their own free will, to love the other person.

I believe this is a key truth we need to know in order to understand the things we experience in life. Trials and temptations provide us with an opportunity to choose God over everything else. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life wrote:
"On the path to spiritual maturity, even temptation becomes a stepping-stone rather than a stumbling block when you realize that it is just as much as occasion to do the right thing as it is to do the wrong thing. Temptation simply provides the choice"(p. 201).
It is through continually choosing God that our love for Him grows and our relationship with Him is strengthened. If God never allowed temptation and hardship in our lives we would never have the opportunity to choose Him over the things of this world. God allows such things in our lives so we have the opportunity to pursue our greatest desire in life, a relationship with our Creator.

What God is looking for is not people of a certain moral ethic, but people who love Him more than anything in the world. One of the problems I had with Christianity when I was younger was how "good" people could go to hell. There are people in the world who give of their time and money to help people in need. They are good moral people and solid citizens, but they don’t have a relationship with God. It bothered me to think that such people could spend an eternity without God. That is when I began to realize the central commandment of Christianity is love. What makes us people fit for heaven is not obeying a bunch of rules on earth, but loving God and loving people. It is our choice to love which gets us ready to spend an eternity with God.

The Apostle Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 13:
If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever (vv. 1-3; NLT).
One of the truths Paul conveys here is that our lives, and even Christianity, find their value in our love. Our love first for God which flows into our love for others. Ultimately what should set Christians apart from the world is our love for God. Putting God first in our lives and loving Him above all things will make us different from the world around us.

When we love God we will act differently. Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commandments" (John 14:15; NLT). Our behavior and our obedience to Jesus is an indication of our love for Him. We cannot love the One who has given us so much and continue to choose a life of sin. Jesus also said; "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33; NASB). When we choose to love God our priorities change. We begin to realize there is a bigger picture and our life is longer than our time on earth. Loving God means we will seek His kingdom and we will put our lives to doing His will.

We are made ready for heaven and an eternity with God by choosing to love God over everything else. God wants people who have set Him as the King, Father, Lord, and Savior of their lives. God created us to choose Him over everything else. It is God's great desire that He has a relationship with us, but we have to choose to be a part of it.

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