Do you remember those first days of falling in love? Do you remember how it felt when that special person walked into the room, how quickly your heart beat in your ears? Do you remember the electricity that shot through you when you touched or how secure that embrace felt? Do you remember all those wild dreams and the adventures you planned together. Hopefully it is easy for you to remember because you are still experiencing it every day. Unfortunately it is not always that way for everyone. Through carelessness and selfishness these feelings can suffer and eventually die. Your motivation to be "in love" dries up and you are left with an empty husk with no juice. In this case we become a victim of emotions because we have misunderstood the practicality of love.
We cannot appreciate what true love is until we have started grappling with the depth of God's love for us. It is true that the cross was an act of his love for us but to understand this act you need the encounter what love is to God. We have to encounter the Father's heart to grasp his forgiveness, mercy, compassion, self-sacrifice, his desire for us, his longing, his faithfulness. It started with a decision. He made the decision to love us, to make a way possible for us to be with him, to have patience, to show kindness, to give us a chance, a choice. A decision to love from one person should prompt a similar decision from the other person, but his love is so great that even if we decide against him, his love remains the same. He continues to actively pursue us in the hope that we will change that decision.
This pursuit does not end after we have made that decision as it does with some husbands. Some husbands only pursue their wives until the have won them over, and then the romancing pursuit is set aside. This is a big mistake as the practicalities of living drives out the dreams and plans for great adventures and the romance begins to dry up. Our God continues the pursuit even after we have decided to love back because he desires to bring out the very best in us as we reveal his very best to the world. Love must bring out the best in people or its not love at all. But it begins with a decision. John writes:
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
In only a few words John explains to us our motivation for this decision. He have to decide to respond to the Father's heart. He have to decide to respond to the groom who is romancing his bride. It is a matter of deciding that we accept his forgiveness, his mercy, his grace, and all of the other blessings he has stored up for the objects of his affection. As we make this decision he touches us and his love transforms us, making us capable of loving others with this same love, if we make the decision to do it. However, it is not an optional decision. Our Father's expectation is that we will love everyone in this same manner because it is what allows his love to flow freely through us and gives us a complete understanding of this love. As I have written last week, his love is made complete in us only when we love as the Father loves. If we do not then we are removing ourselves from the vine. Although his love remains the same we are unable to experience it or understand it. As long as we are living it we can understand. Again John writes:
If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)
We can pretend, put on an act, conform to acceptable behavior but inside we are filled with resentment and bitterness. That is not the freedom we have been given in his love. We cannot know him unless we make the decision to love everyone with the same depth of love we have received from our Father. It is only as we love that we are able to gain a complete understanding of the depth of his love. John repeats Jesus command:
And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:21)
Can you understand how all the laws and commands rest on these two commands? If you love then you cannot gossip. If you love you cannot tear down because love has made you a builder. If you love you cannot desire bad things for people because you are filled with hope for them. You become a romancer after the same manner of Jesus, pursuing people with the love of the Father in all its depth. This is who you are because of a decision you have made. It is not always easy just as it is not always easy between a husband and wife. But due to that decision they made they can make it through and do so with style. Not only can you love everyone you can do it with the same style of Jesus, if you decide. Without love you cannot know God. Our motivation is simple: we love because he first loved us.