To Love as He Loves

February 15, 2018

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GOC_to_love_as_he_lovesWritten by Victoria Ng

The word “Christian” means “little Christ.” We, who follow Jesus, desire to be more like Him, to reflect Him and give Him all the glory. John 14:15 says, “those who love God will keep His commandments” and in the gospels, Jesus gave us a new commandment, “to love one another as He loves us” (John 13:34). Being called to belong to Christ is no small calling. We strive to be like a God who is perfect in every way. Though we fail to be holy, we desire to joyfully pursue holiness, trusting that the Lord will continue to perfect us until that last day. But do we forget the height of the standard God has called us to?

With Valentine’s Day just passing us by, we see what the world thinks about love, but for the Christian the definition of love is vastly different than the shallow, self-serving love we see in popular culture. So, what does it mean to love one another as Jesus loves us? To love as God Himself loves? I know that often I make excuses and tell myself, “I am loving this person. What I’m doing is good enough.” But in those moments I fail to recognize God’s standard, which is infinitely higher than my own. It is infinitely higher than even the most faithful believer’s love for their brethren. So I would like to exhort each one of us, myself included, to truly and more faithfully strive to love one another as Jesus Himself sacrificially does, and gave us the perfect example of love while He lived on earth.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says that we are transformed into the image of Christ as we behold His glory.

We cannot imitate Christ’s love without seeing how He loves us. When Jesus became a man on this earth, He demonstrated His great love for us in a tangible way. We can learn from our Savior’s example through His life shown in the gospels. As we seek to imitate Jesus, we want to be like Him in our actions. But most of all, we want to reflect Him in the desires, thoughts, and affections in our hearts, striving to love to the utmost, as He loves us.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says love is not self-seeking, and Philippians 2:3-8 calls us to be as selfless as Christ was in His sacrifice on the cross. When we look at the gospel, we are confronted with the reality that Jesus offers all of Himself to us. He held nothing back — He gave His life, and does not expect anything in return. Among all the things Jesus gives us, not a single one do we deserve. May we seek to be radically selfless, to give as our Savior gives, remembering that everything belongs to Him. God can use us to provide for His church as we look to the needs and interests of others. Of course, we probably should not give everything away, but what stops us should not be selfishness but stewardship. However, we must examine our hearts closely, as we can also use stewardship as an excuse to cover our selfishness. May we truly sacrificially give our possessions, time, and energy to help our brothers and sisters.

But our sacrifice must not merely be an imitation of action. It must stem from a Christ-like heart of love. Jesus died in our place, out of love for us and for God the Father. Jesus died because He decided it was worth it — not because of anything worthy in ourselves, but because of God’s incalculable love for us. Each believer is supremely valuable because we have been ransomed with the blood of the Lamb. Jesus, Lord of the universe, suffered under the wrath of His Father in utter humility. Do we value the children of God like their Father does, truly believing each is important? I know that so often I find myself thinking that my opinions and my needs are more important than those of others, purely on the basis that they are mine. But in that case, I pridefully and selfishly consider myself superior.

So we should humbly and genuinely love others, and love them wholly. Jesus does not only care that we are reconciled to God, though this is our most dire need. His love is comprehensive, all-encompassing. When Jesus was on earth, He healed countless people’s physical diseases. Right now, He provides for us at every moment so that we don’t need to worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear — nothing is insignificant. Jesus cares for us emotionally, comforting us in our afflictions, and He comforted His disciples in their distress when He was soon going to be killed (John 14). Jesus hears our prayers, listening to every thought and need. He knows us fully, and cares about everything about us. Our Lord desires the very best for us — our sanctification, and sends His Spirit to every believer to help us fight sin.

Jesus humbled Himself to the utmost. Being the leader of the disciples, He did not see it as below Himself to wash their feet (John 13:1-20), and being our Lord and God, He serves us every moment and provides for our every need. Despite being the Holy God of the universe, Jesus did not fall into the temptation of the boastful pride of life (John 2:16). Yet we, who have never been perfect for a moment, find it so difficult to value those who have been created in the image of God and bought with Christ’s blood.

God desires that we truly strive for obedience in this area of our lives as much as every other one. When we love one another, those who are not Christians can see that we belong to Him (John 13:35). As we reflect the love of Christ, unbelievers see the love of an invisible God in a tangible way (1 John 4:12). When we love like Christ, God receives all the glory.

So how can we practically pursue Christ-likeness in our love for one another?

Jesus’ commandment applies to every Christian — that every one of us love like Him and love every single believer, no matter how difficult. As we behold Christ, we see how far we fall from loving as Christ loves us. We are so self-absorbed, partial, and prideful. But do not be discouraged, for there is always grace. Jesus already paid for every sin, and God promises to forgive us. And we can look to the future with hope that He will perfect us, including the love in our hearts, on that final day (Philippians 1:6).

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