Humans are everywhere these days. They may seem unrecognizable because of face masks, but these creatures are easily identifiable by their bent necks and upheld hands containing an electronic device that seems to lead them around like a technological leash. You can distinguish their likes and dislikes by what stores they frequent or what coffee they drink. They’re an awfully busy lot, these humans. Though they move, many are not actually living. While this may seem contradictory, machines can move. Rocks can move down a mountain in an avalanche. Human may also move, but that doesn’t indicate that they have true life within them.
What does it mean to truly LIVE?
Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He didn’t mean longer physical life by “abundantly.” He didn’t come to extend one’s average lifespan from 60 to 80. He meant something far greater and more wonderful. Jesus came to give us LIFE. He does this primarily by revealing to us how much He LOVES us. Humans were made my God not as a science experiment but as beings to share His joy and know His love.
You were designed to be loved by God. To love being loved by Him, for He is a perfect Father. John’s gospel seems intent on showing us two things – the grandeur and majesty and wonder of Jesus AND how great His love is.
LOVE takes the IF out of LIFE
It’s in chapter 3 that a surreptitious meeting with a leading Pharisee (did he and Paul know each other?) named Nicodemus reveals the motivation behind the Messiah’s arrival – love. “For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son, that whomever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (16)
Throughout the gospels, but especially in John, Jesus is passionately intent on introducing His disciples (and us) to His Father. Where Jewish faith had centered on “God” and believed deeply in a personal, merciful and powerful Yahweh, they did not dare (up to this point) claim God was as intimately close as “Father.” Jesus was out to change that. He wanted us to know God desires an intimate love relationship with us. That He loves us beyond belief. If you read through John with an ear for how Jesus constantly referred to and corrected the disciples’ and Pharisees’ conceptions of His Father, you’ll be stunned. It was all He talked about, it seems.
The cross proved that you are more loved than you ever knew. God can do nothing higher, more radical, and more final than to place your sins upon His Son and invite you into His presence fully forgiven. God will not make another cross for Jesus to climb back up on to forgive you again when you sin “freshly.” What’s done is done. Forever. All your sins were forgiven at one time! It’s why Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!”
That’s God’s love for you. That’s where LIFE became possible. Jesus reminded us that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Living is not about cowering before viruses. Living is not being “woke,” existing in perpetual outrage. Living is… loving. God first, then people.
- We live to love.
- We are loved to LIVE.
- We should love to LIVE.
- In fact, LOVE takes the “IF” out of LIFE. (see how that works?)
Humans can only truly live when they are truly loved. God loves you truly. So why are you not experiencing, walking in, and enjoying God’s love for you today?
Jesus gives you life
“Because I live, you live too,” Jesus said in John 14.19.
You may think you’re living because you’re breathing. But that’s not abundant living. That’s just existing. In these days of cultural tensions, pandemics, lockdowns and protests, we need more than just another day like yesterday. We need hope. We need LIFE.
I was in West Texas last week, surveying damage done to my father-in-law’s ranch from a raging brush fire. Aerial fire fighters dropped chemicals on the ranch house to save it, but other things were burned up. The black swath of destruction was disheartening. And yet, at the base of singed yucca plants, green shoots were appearing. We saw deer and rabbits bounding through the black tree-stubbed land.
That seems to me to be similar to God’s love for us. We live in a world “burned up” by sin. Things are not as they should be. Brokenness, destruction and ruin are all around. And yet, we have been saved by the quenching love of the Father through the fire-proof nature of the cross. No fire can burn the cross of Christ to ashes. Instead, His love for you daily gives us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” (Isaiah 61.3)
Christians are the isolated spots of green in an otherwise burned-out humanity. Those who have the life of Christ in them through faith are able to offer it to others through a very old, very simple message: God is love. He came to give us life. Turn from your sin and hopelessness, and turn to Him. Rather than condemn, God saves all those who turn to Jesus in faith. He drops life-saving living water on our souls!
You are loved to live
God’s love gives us abundant, true life. You can truly say that you are “loved to live.” To enjoy life. To know life. To give life.
We can experience daily the extravagant, sin-shattering, merciful, forgiving, patient, empowering and freeing love of the Father through Jesus! He loves us and wants us to be more than moving creatures, more than addicted to our tech, more than consumed by fear, more than woke. He wants us to LIVE and LOVE.
You are loved, Christian. Now show it by cultivating life and love all around you today.
Questions to think on:
- What do you think about when you think about God’s love for you?
- Are you disappointed in your life? In God?
- What might convince you – for the first time or again – of God’s love for you?
- What characterizes your LIFE? Routine? Kids? Eating? Exercise? Portfolio? Ambition? What is it that characterizes YOU?
- What would it look like for you TODAY to breathe deeply and truly ENJOY life?
- What role does gratitude play in displacing small life and leading to big life?
- Who has loved you (besides God) most unselfishly? How has that impacted you?
- Who can you show unselfish love to today?