Love is the deliberate act of valuing someone more than you value yourself. Love is the deliberate act of caring for, and listening to others. Love is wanting others to succeed, to be happy, healthy, successful and fulfilled. Love is a deliberate act of kindness, or compassion. Love is wanting to a make a difference in someone’s life, for their sake, not yours.

God made us to love and to be loved. God loves us. Sometimes, we in the church don’t reflect God’s love as well as we should, but God is love.

Read from that last paragraph again, “God loves us”. Now, read that very first sentence “Love is the deliberate act of valuing someone more than you value yourself”. God continuously and deliberately values us more than himself.  God places us before him. The cross is the ultimate expression of that. God the son, Emmanuel meaning God with us, chose to die on a cross, to sacrifice himself, for each one of us. There can be no greater act of love than that.

Love between mother and son

Stop for a minute. Let that sink in. Not just the cross; not just the act; think about the reason behind it. God loves me and God loves you. He did not do this for Christians. There were no Christians yet. He did this for sinners. He did this for the World.

“For God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but will have eternal life.” 

God calls us to worship him. What is worship? Is it not the deliberate act of valuing God more than yourself? Worship’s synonyms, listed in the Merriam Webster dictionary are : cherish, love, adore.

When God calls us to worship him, he is simply calling us to love him the way he loves us. Ours is a faith built on love. Love is the single most used word in the Bible and the instruction given more than all others.

How do we Love God?

We love God by loving one and other. Each of us is called to love our neighbour, but who is our neighbour?

Is my family my neighbor? Is the person next door my neighbor? What about the folks on the next street over? Is everyone who lives in my neighborhood my neighbor? How do I draw that boundary? What about those who have moved, who lived in my neighborhood? Are they still my neighbors? Or did they somehow lose status simply because they couldn’t afford the rent and had to move? Where do I draw that line?”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:43

“You have heard that it was said”. Jesus did not say, “The Law of Moses says”. He said “You have heard that it was said”. Jesus then says “but I tell you, love your enemies”. Put it all together and Jesus is saying this: “No, you’ve got it all wrong. The Law of Moses does not say ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ It says says ‘Love your neighbour’ and I say even your enemy is your neighbour.”

So, if even your enemy is your neighbour, where then do you draw the line?

Well, if you choose not to draw the line, then a person living in a slum, half a World away, is your neighbor.

Of course, geography isn’t the only way to draw a line. What about time? When does someone become your neighbor? Were your great-great-grandparents your neighbours?  What about those people that will be born half a World away a hundred years from now? Are they your neighbors?

Simply put, if you refuse to draw the line, if you refuse to create an exclusive club of people you deem to be your neighbors, then the answer to all of these questions is: “Yes, they are my neighbors, all of them.” So, providing aid and comfort to those who struggle, regardless of race, gender, faith, place of origin, or current residence is loving your neighbor. Recognizing that we are stewards of this Earth, not owners, and that we must care for it for future generations, is loving your neighbours from the future. Honoring gravesites and remembering our past is loving your neighbours from the past.

Love your enemy! There can’t be a clearer admonition than that. Don’t draw lines. Everyone is your neighbour.

So, we love God by loving each other. And we love each other actively, by reaching out and making a difference:

  • Attending a memorial service is an act of love.
  • Donating to the Food Bank is an act of love.
  • A helping hand is an act of love.
  • A visit or a call or a warm greeting is an act of love.
  • Simply being there and listening is an act of love.
  • Sharing your knowledge, mentoring and teaching, is an act of love.
  • Standing back and celebrating the success of others is an act of love.
  • Protecting our environment is an act of love.
  • Rejecting and repudiating prejudice is an act of love.

 

What else does the Bible say about Love?

 

Matthew 5:43-48

Teaching about Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.

44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

John 15:12

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 

 

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 & 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

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