Loved Ones Love Well

Throughout the month of Advent, posts here have drawn from pieces submitted to the Glen Elm Church of Christ Advent Blog.  They have covered the four traditional themes of the season: Hope, Peace, Joy, and now Love.

In speaking of love, Scripture’s call to Christ’s followers is clear:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

The One who is love (1 John 4:16) tells the ones who are His, to mimic His ways. Revealed in Scripture as “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in unfailing love”, this call to imitation is no light invitation.

How on earth could any of us live it out?

It is not that love is completely foreign to us. The vast majority of parents love their children without any nudging. Friends care for each other. Spouses cherish one another. The entire human race is said to bear the image of God, so it is hardly shocking that some “love genes” got passed from Father to children.

What is shocking though is how quickly love mutates into something less than divine.  And it is ME that taints the mixture. I don’t even mean that I add something that ruins the recipe. I mean that I am the something that taints the recipe.

And you do the same.

Well-intentioned and seeking the good, we march into St. Paul’s call. We will be “imitators of God”; we will “live a life of love”. With all the power in us, we will pursue this most holy call.

And we fail miserably, injuring others and ourselves in the process.  Our noblest efforts are undercut by insecurities that we mask and independence that we magnify.  Our hearts may long to love well, but our hearts are fragmented at best.  And when did something fractured ever show sufficient strength to live up to its billing?

No, if we are to be imitators of the love-God, it will require more than the powered housed within us.

A re-reading of the fine print in Ephesians 5:1-2 may make all the difference:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

There is one prerequisite to following God’s love-call with any measure of faithfulness; it is non-negotiable. No other credits will transfer in.  It is not that God is a stickler for details; it is simply that we cannot run before we walk.

Ahead of being loving, you must be loved.

Prior to imitating God’s loving ways, you must have felt God’s loving ways.

The topic of embracing, by faith, the love of God, even as it embraces us, could be the subject of a thousand posts.  (Perhaps this will serve as the first.)  But the conversation started here today is simply an affirmation that Paul knew of what he spoke: You cannot give what you do not have.

And if you do not have, it is not because the Being known as Love is holding back.

If even a sliver of suspicion has awakened within you, that a touch of God’s love might change life as you know it, seek Him in as exposed and trusting posture as you can strike and speak with those around you who appear to be living as “dearly loved children”.

I mean, who could dish out higher quality love than those called God’s “dearly loved children”?!

YOUR TURN: What barriers have you experienced in “moving into” the love of God? What advice would you offer someone who was seeking to feel more like a “dearly loved child”?  Your input makes this post better!

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