This thought came to me as I listened to a sermon this morning based on 1John 4:7-16. I found myself thinking about the love that the Father has showered on us and the implications for how we live our lives: loving one another and loving those apart from Christ.
Now I've never had a problem loving my spiritual brothers and sisters. But when it comes to loving those outside my spiritual family, there is work to do. I've taught courses on evangelism and I've done my share of sharing my faith with others. However, I find myself wondering if my motives are what they should be. How well do I know and care about my neighbors, work associates, casual acqaintances?
It occurs to me that love for others is the key. And this love has its source in the very nature of God and is produced in every true follower of His. John indicates that this love for others is evidence of the presence of Christ in our lives. When we allow the Spirit of Christ to love through us, a world apart from Christ can see this love. Yes, this love works when love acts.
So how does love act?
First, love looks. What I mean is this: Like Jesus, who said he came to seek and to save, we who are followers of Christ need to look around to see a world in need - in need of love and in need of a Savior. Having gotten to know some of my neighbors, I realize that I have to look no further than the street where I live to find persons in need of a relationship with a Savior who loves them enough to have died for them.
Second, love listens. People, all people, need to have someone who will listen to them. Listening involves showing a genuine interest in someone and an unconditional acceptance of them, whatever their story. Listening intently and actively communicates that we genuinely care.
Finally, love loses. Let me explain. Jesus said that the greatest form of love is to lay down our lives for others. If we are willing to lose ourselves and our interests and needs for the sake of sharing the love of Jesus with others, we are truly showing the love of Jesus in both word and deed.