Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Love Like Jesus

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Jesus is love. I believe most Christians can agree on that. He represents love in the most real sense. Not only did he protray the best of humanity's capability of love on earth, but he also depicts God the Father's unlimited, merciful love. Jesus loves believers as much as non-believers. He loves saints as much as sinners. He has the capacity to over power any temptation or sin with love.

As Christians, we are to walk in Jesus' footsteps, to strive to be more like the perfect example God sent to us.

"For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps" 1 Peter 2:21.

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So why do we refuse to love others as Jesus does?

It seems like such an easy thing, to love. Most of the time we have no problem loving our family, our kids, perhaps loving a friend that we like to spend time with. But what about loving those we don't get along with. What about loving that co-worker who gives us a hard time, or the acquaintance who always tries to be better than you, or the one who doesn't share you opinion on any matter. Let's take it one step more. What about loving those people who steal, who have abortions or who live a way different from yours. All of a sudden it isn't so easy to love is it?

But Jesus did.

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Jesus loved sinners because they were still God's creation. He loved prostitutes, he dined with thieves and he even anointed a tax collector as a disciple.

"But God showed his great love to us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners" Romans 5:8.

Inviting a thief to dinner does not mean I will begin to steal. Hugging a prostitute does not mean I will begin to work the streets. Doing these things does not even mean I condone the behavior--which I don't. However, it does mean I put my judgment in God's hands and continue to love the person behind the sin as Jesus did.

"Do not judge other, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in  your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help yo get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." Matthew 7:1-5
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In my devotional series "Beautiful Battle," I am exploring the idea of spiritual battle. Mary DeMuth states my opinion splendidly in her novel which my series is based on...

"And we give sin more power when we name it, focus on it, and forget about Jesus' power to overcome it" (DeMuth p53, "Beautiful Battle.")

Jesus is the one who resisted all temptation from Satan. Jesus is the one who sacrificed himself, the perfect lamb to cover the sins of all humanity. Jesus is the one who went to the grave and rose again to strip all authority away from Satan and doom him to the fiery lakes. Jesus has the power to overcome sin. By focusing on the Savior the details Satan holds so dear falls away. The cycle of judging others is one of Satan's many tricks to come between us and the outstanding power and love of Jesus.

"For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, "God has put all things under his authority"...Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God's authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere." 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

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It is not always easy to love. It is difficult to look beyond the hurt someone has bestowed on you. It is complicated to look beyond someone's life choices to relate to the soul. It is challenging to relate to someone  who is completely different than you. However, that is our call. We are summoned to forgive sins, to counsel and reassure, to teach and comfort. Above all we are meant to love, as strongly and openly as Jesus did.

"I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of your more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him." 2 Corinthians 2:5-8.

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This is not an easy charge. We are not perfect. As humans, we falter, we sin, we fall short of the glory of God. The beauty is, Jesus is right there picking us up, brushing us off, forgiving our sins and sometimes literally carrying us forward. Love is a powerful thing. It is so strong that it can lift someone up and tear someone down at the same time. To love one that the world tells you to hate is hard. Jesus shows us the way, he whispers inspiration and strength into our hearts. All we have to do if focus on him and let Satan and  the outside world fade away. All we have to do is love like Jesus. It is as simple and as difficult as that.

"A new command I give you! Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34.

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