How We’re Called to Love as God Loves

 

What are you willing to die for? Who are you willing to die for?

Neither one of these questions always produces a simple answer.  There are so many variables involved, that it actually pains me to think of the answer. Questions come to mind such as: how would I die? Do I have to die? What type of person would I die for? What type of person does it make me if I don’t have a list, that is pages long, of people? Does this mean that I don’t really love others?

I was recently watching a testimony of a woman who had grown up in Romania. Living under a socialist government came with many challenges, but the greatest challenge of her life came when after she accepted Christ as her Savior.

She had been handpicked to become an attorney since she had been deemed a loyal citizen of Romania. But when she began to defend Christians in the courtroom and actually win, she instantly became an enemy of the state. Look, I’ve seen enough political thrillers to know that gaining that title is no joke.

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She recalls a certain day when she was walking home from being “interviewed” about why she had turned against her country. Hurt, broken, and bloodied, she realized that in that low moment all she had was Christ. In that dark time, her sacrifice opened her eyes to receive Christ into her heart in a significant and all-encompassing way.

Afterward, her heart broke for those who were persecuting her. God filled her heart in a way that allowed her to truly love her enemies.

Lord, that’s Impossible!

Tears began to well up in my eyes at the very thought of being in her shoes. Could I have looked the man in the eyes who had just slammed my head on the table and say to him that I loved him because God does? Could I?

My initial response to God is: Lord that’s impossible! I wonder if God realizes the emotions that are released when one is abused and persecuted? Fear. Anger. Anxiety. Sadness. Rage.

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Those powerful negative emotions dominate my brain activity causing my actions to be dictated by them. That’s why it’s only through the power of God that those emotions can be subdued and put to rest.

Only the power of God can produce love in a situation that logically should produce animosity.

Only the power of God can produce love in a situation that logically should produce animosity.
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Love Changes Things

I have weaknesses and I know what most of them are. God knows what all of my weaknesses are! One of them is that my love is conditional. I may find it easy to love good people, but I sure enough don’t find it easy to love bad people. If you try and tear me down with your words, we’re going to have some problems. If you defame my name, we’re going to have problems. Or if you hurt those I love, we’re going to have some problems.

Jesus hung on a cross and listened as his name was defamed and people tried to tear him down. Yet, he didn’t have a problem with them. He only felt love for them.

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I have come to realize from my time on this planet that I have limitations. One of my limitations is that I set conditions for whether or not I’ll love someone with a biblical type of love–not a distorted version of love. Because of this limitation, I struggle to see beyond my circumstances to where God wants me to be. I struggle to see my enemies the way He does.

Despite all of that, I have experienced His love and have been changed by it. His love has moved animosity out of my heart more times than I can count. Walls have been torn down that had been up for years.

We Have a Purpose

I have a purpose. You have a purpose. We all have a purpose to live up to that God has carefully crafted. That is going to include us sacrificing some comforts and pleasures of this world. Why? Because we have to work hard for what matters most.

Work hard now. Work smart today. For you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

For the woman from Romania, her tomorrow held a plot twist. But she realized that no matter what would become of her life, she was willing to go all the way for Christ. Going all the way with Christ became her purpose.

Let going all the way with Christ became your purpose.
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I have been called to live as a child of God, first. Then there are my earthly callings. I have been called to lead, teach, write, and serve. That’s my purpose here on earth. But all that aside, I have to put God first every single day. I have to allow him to fill me with his love till it oozes out of me at every turn.

With Him, all things are possible. So, if I one day have to confront persecution, my role is to love my enemies as God loves me. If I have to confront death, then I will confront it knowing that Jesus was willing to die for me. Let’s be clear, I don’t want it and I’m not asking for it. I only accept it if it’s a part of God’s plan for my life.

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Our Story Isn’t Complete

My story isn’t over yet. It ain’t ova! When I live out the purpose that God has designed for me, I will in some way affect another person for the kingdom. And that’s just how it works.

Whether or not I’m privileged enough to find out how I impact others isn’t the point. What matters is that I impact their lives for the better. That’s how God established things. Our lives are not self-contained. Neither is our purpose.

So, my original questions were: “What are you willing to die for? and Who are you willing to die for?” I still can’t easily answer this question, but I can definitely say that with God’s love working through me I would die for whoever he desires.

The answer does not revolve around how much I feel I love someone that I’m willing to take their place. The answer revolves around how willing I am to love like Jesus loves. That’s all He asks for. He didn’t ask for us to train every day in case you’re tortured. Or to work on mental exercises in case you’re persecuted one day. Matthew 22:36-40 says:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

I ask for you to take time today and ask God to move in your life and guide you on how to love as He does. Are you willing to take that step? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to see what you have to say!