To Love Indiscriminately

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.’” -Luke 14:12-14a (NIV)

Who do we allow into our circle of friends? If we take a careful look around us, we may find that they share two Google+Photothings in common. The first of these is that they are similar to us. Human tendency is to congregate with others who are alike in appearance, status, tastes, and outlook. Invariably, people find a sense of affirmation and security in their identity by conforming themselves to a certain group. The second common factor is that they are of benefit to us. Somehow being in relationship with them maintains our own status, and we act out of kindness assured that its recipient will be able to return the favor. But what about those who make us feel uncomfortable; who do not fit in nor have anything to offer us? Does our love extend to those people as well?

Human love is actually not love at all. Rather it is a self-gratifying emotion that is dependent on the usefulness of others in boosting our ego and providing us with benefits. If these were taken away, and they could vanish easily, our love would dissipate along with it. True compassion is not birthed out of ulterior motives, but out of the selfless love of Christ. He had nothing to gain Himself by reaching down to draw us out of sin for as the Lord of Creation He lacked nothing. Yet because He did not want to see us perish under the weight of our wickedness, He came into this world as a vulnerable human being, endured the sufferings of this world, and experienced the agony of the cross for our sake. His gift of salvation is open to all, regardless of who we are, and will never be withdrawn or withheld. When we personally accept His death and resurrection and allow His Spirit to enter into our hearts, we will be transformed by His unconditional love if we surrender our pride to His refining work. As our selective, conditional love is replaced by His indiscriminate, unconditional love, through the work of His Spirit, we will truly understand what it means to be a child of Christ who identifies with his Father in Heaven.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Remaining Steadfast in Love

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” -Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)

They are perhaps the most important qualities anyone could have. In all human relationships, love and faithfulness binds people together. ThatGoogle+Photo unconditional, selfless love which places the needs of others over oneself, combined with that faithfulness which promises to remain steadfast no matter the circumstances, serve as bonding agents which foster a sense of belonging and community amongst people. Families and friendships are built upon these qualities and their abundance, or a lack thereof, often determines the overall health and nature of the relationship in question. Humanity was created to live in harmony with one another. Just as how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell with each other in unity, we too are also meant to live in relationship and community with God and with our fellow man.

But can we really say that we have the capability to love unconditionally? Can we really say that we would never falter in our faithfulness to one another? The truth is that we cannot. Since we are corrupted by sin, our love and our faithfulness has become warped and distorted. Suddenly our love is based on if they love us back, and our faithfulness on whether they have been faithful to us. Love and faithfulness therefore become self serving, seeking to only boost one’s ego and pride. Yet God calls us to a much higher standard. Despite our deliberate disobedience and our repeated rejections of Him, Christ still loves us and remains faithful to His promises. No matter what we may say or do, His arms will still remain open to all who come to Him in humble and sincere repentance. How many of us would be able to show such a powerful love? If we are truly honest with ourselves, we would shun those who shun us and embrace those who embrace us. But the love of Christ loves and continues to love even when that love is not appreciated or reciprocated. Human love is fleeting and is heavily dependent on whether our needs are being met. Divine love however is eternal because its Source is eternal and therefore it transcends human selfishness and pride. When we allow Christ to work His nature in us, His never failing love and faithfulness will be written on our hearts and overflow from our lives. Through His enabling in our thoughts, words, and actions, we will bear witness to the world that our God is a God who cares so much for humanity that He is willing to redeem us at all costs from the degradation of sin and wickedness.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

With Open Arms

“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’” -Hosea 3:1 (NIV)

God wanted to use Hosea and his wife as a living and graphic example of His love for humanity. Despite the blatant infidelity of his wife, Hosea Google+Photowas to love her with unwavering faithfulness and mercy. If we were in Hosea’s position however, how many of us would actually obey God’s call to love in such a radical manner? Often times we can barely love and forgive those who slight us even over the most trivial of matters, let alone the breaking of a holy sacrament given by God Himself. Betrayal hurts, especially if it comes from the people whom we love and thought we could trust. But our hurt can easily turn into hatred; to the point where it consumes our minds and becomes a poison that corrupts every area of our lives.

Yet if we truly look at the state of our hearts and see the depravity that exists, we will find ourselves as being a mirror image of Hosea’s wife. When we give ourselves up to our sinful desires, we break the heart of God and prove our unfaithfulness to Him. As His children, our decision to indulge in sin cannot be justified outside of the fact that deep in our hearts we actually enjoy doing so. God has every right to be angry with us when we sell ourselves to wickedness because He cannot tolerate sin on account of the fact that He is holy. But in His wonderful love He does not seek to destroy us because of our disobedience towards Him. On the contrary He seeks to save us from it. Through Christ He offers the hope of forgiveness and being reconciled to Him. His arms will always be wide open to receive all who are truly repentant before Him no matter how many times we stumble and fall. When we make ourselves as slaves before sin, we degrade ourselves. But when we enter into a relationship with Christ; where we are immersed in His love and seek to live under His faultless direction and enabling, He will give us life eternal. By living in obedience to Him and His perfect will, we will be able to be the conduits by which He will fulfill His restorative mission to the world as we allow His love and forgiveness to be made manifest in our lives.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.