Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Love of God - Fruit of the Spirit Part 1 cont.

Love is the first fruit promised to us when the Holy Spirit is in control of our lives. Love is a large topic, so I want to just focus on God's love, because that should be the love the Holy Spirit empowers us to give. I am reminded of one of my favorite hymns:

Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the sky of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the oceans dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

And yet I attempt to summarize this key quality of God in a blog post. Right. Please remember that in I John 4:8 (NIV)the apostle John teaches us that "God is love." Meaning God defines love and love is an integral part of God. Everything He does is out of love. To try to pat that all into three paragraphs and a poem would be impossible. I will narrow my focus to three key aspects of God's love.

First, God's love is unconditional. If you have a relationship with God it is fun to consider how He pursued you to establish that relationship. The journey for each person is different. For myself, I was raised by parents who are both strong in the Christian faith, but I still had to be put in a place where I would deliberately choose that faith to be my own. The key thing is that for all of us He pursued us in order to love us even when we were running the other way. Romans 5:7-8 (NIV) says, "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He started chasing us from the cross, even as we were pounding in the nails. Wow.

Second, God's love is resilient. When God's love is bestowed, there is nothing that can remove it. Romans 8:37 (NIV) says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." We tend to think of death as being so final and powerful, unavoidable, and yet we are promised that even death has not the power to separate us from God's love. Wow.

Third, God's love is understanding. In one of many verses with a similar theme, Joel 2:13 (NIV) says "Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love..." Written to God's chosen people in the Old Testament who have repeatedly turned their backs on God only to beg for deliverance when things get tough, this verse takes on new meaning. God says, "Yes, I know you have stopped obeying me, but I also know that you are frail, weak, and needy. I won't display anger here, instead I'll display grace, compassion, and love." Wow.

The only way I can love unconditionally, through any challenge, and with abundant understanding, it to totally rely on God to be the source of love in me. I must ask for this moment by moment, and trust that He will provide.


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