Have you ever asked someone why they love you? Have you ever heard someone in a relationship say “He loves me for who I am”? Or even wondered why some people continue to love other people the way they do. The nice young lady, who loves the boyfriend that treats her badly. The wife, who continues to love her husband even after he forgets their anniversary. The dad, who loves his son even after he puts a ding in his Ford Mustang. The parent, who loves their daughter even after she gets pregnant before marriage. The couple, that loves a baby that is not their own. The Father, that loves the world so much He gave up his Son. The Savior, that loved us to death. Sometimes love is hard to explain and understand. What do people mean when they say they love someone or something? How does the world define love? What is God saying when He says He loves something?
I love a lot of things. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my extended family. I love my church and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I love football. I love coffee. I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. It is certainly true that there are many things in this world to love. Like everyone else, I consider most of the things I love to be important. I also consider my loves to be selfish loves. I love them because they please me. While I serve people through different vocations I am still unable to rid myself of my selfish tendencies. I love my wife and children, but fail them daily. I love my neighbor, but rarely serve them as I should. I daily fight my sinful flesh as my worldly loves risk becoming my God. Therein lays the difference between my love and God’s love. I am sinful and God is not.
Love is a big word in today’s Christian landscape. It’s also an often misused word by pastors and layman who throw it around with little regard for what they are truly confessing to the world. “God is love”. Love your neighbor as yourself. While these are both true statements they are often misused throughout Christianity to justify all sorts of sins and lies. Even pastors and district presidents in the LCMS use “Love” improperly instead of proclaiming Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. As a layman, I always try to consider God’s love in view of the cross. “God is love” because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Love your neighbor as yourself because of the great love Jesus Christ has shown you. “God is love” outside of Jesus Christ isn’t the love Christians should be proclaiming to the world. God doesn’t love you for who you are, you’re a sinner. God hates sin and we’re experts in that department. The wages of sin is death and we deserve that punishment. We’re like that kid that keeps getting in trouble and never seems to learn. We take his love and don’t give any back. We turn our works of loving our neighbor into something to show God. While our neighbor needs our love and works, God doesn’t. We’re destined for eternal death and hell because of our sin. Our love will not save us from damnation. Loving each other and hugging it out whenever anything goes wrong isn’t Christianity. While it may be great help during times of suffering and sorrow to love each other, it can’t give them that perfect love, support and hope that our Father has shown us in Jesus Christ.
Often while I am writing I feel like a complete jerk. I probably come off as a jerk too. Sometimes things get under my skin and I need to vent. I consider it a great privilege to write for Brothers of John the Steadfast. As a layman, I try to write for other laymen in hopes they will consider their lives in view of the things God has told us in this Word. We should always consider our lives in view of the law and the gospel. We should love our neighbors and show love and compassion for everyone but not at the risk of the Gospel. Christians need to speak the truth about what love is and what the Gospel is. Jesus Christ died for you and for me. He died for the sins of the entire world. Confess those truths to the world and then you are truly showing your neighbor love. God doesn’t love us for who we are, he loves us because of Jesus Christ.