I first started attending church as an adult “so that my children would grow up with morals.” It was not until several years later that I got down on my knees – alone in my room, and prayed for forgiveness of my sins and for Jesus to be my lord and master. In both cases I was really interested in “me and mine”. First, I wanted my kids to “grow up right” and second, when I came to realize that God Is I wanted to be “right with the Lord” and I wanted my family to be also. I realized our God is an Awesome God and quite frankly, I was afraid. Afraid for my and my family’s eternal souls.
It took some time for me to realize that God loved me and He loved a lot of people other than me and mine. It took longer for me to start feeling the love but eventually I did – in a sort of grudging way: “Yeah, yeah, I love them because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. But…”
Eventually I came to feel the love for real. I realized at the time, “wow, I get it now!”
No, I didn’t…
As I continue down this path, trying to follow Jesus, my love continues to grow.
At first it grew for my family and then it grew for my brothers and sisters in Christ.
And then something weird happened – I started to feel love for people in general.
This was very new.
This made me uncomfortable and it still does in a way – I used to be a very hard man. I drew circles around myself.
Things and people were either inside or outside of circles and depending on where they were, my feelings for them differed – dramatically.
Several things flow from (or perhaps along with) these changes in my heart that only God can be creating:
o I am starting to draw fewer distinctions between people in different circles. I am becoming less of a raving nationalist. I have more empathy for strangers.
o I am less comfortable with slamming home my arguments with folks and more interested in listening and determining why people think and believe what they do. I am more willing to let people state their case without necessarily feeling the need to argue back.
o I feel more pain. I used to use a phrase quite a bit (and still do on occasion): “If you don’t care – it don’t matter”. The more I find myself loving and caring about others – the more they matter and the more what is going on in their life affects me. Again, the circle of who I care about continues to expand.
o I am feeling more vulnerable. When we let ourselves love we open ourselves up - to love certainly but also to rejection, sorrow, and pain. I guess this is related to the point above.
o The more I love others the more I love God the more I love others the more I love God the more I love others the more I love God the more I love others…. It goes on in a circle.
I am starting to understand the concept of “God is Love”
It is humbling.
I weep when I let myself open to His love. It consumes me; it flows over and through me; I feel it becoming me or me becoming it – difficult for me to describe.
God is love.
He loves YOU and so do I.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.
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. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:16 - 21