In the very, very beginning, God created everything. When God created everything, He didn’t just create everything physical. He created everything spiritual, everything mental, and everything emotional. He created sadness and happiness, excitement and apprehension, peace and turmoil. God created everything that has been created.
However, love is not one of these things. Love was not created in the beginning. Why? Because love already existed. Like God, love always existed. How do we know this? Because God is love. God tells us in His word that He is love. And God was never created- He always was, always is, and always will be. He is I Am. And because He is love, love, in the same way, was not created then. However, when God created everything, He also created man. He created us with the utmost care, forming us in His own image, bringing us life from His very breath. And when he created us, He gave us an incredible gift- love. He gave us the love that was an integral part of His very being, and He gave us the ability to share that love.
But something terrible happened, and it was all our fault. We betrayed God. We took that love that He gave us and squandered in on evil things, using it in ways God had not intended. But God still loved us, with the immeasurable love that He promises He will always have for us. And so, rather than start anew, He kept us. He gave us a temporary covenant, the Old Testament Law, to show us our complete inability to love the way we were meant to. But that law was not enough to reconcile us to God completely. We were and are guilty of sin- and the punishment for that was unavoidable. But there was one way we could be saved- if that punishment was carried out on someone else, someone perfect, someone blameless.
And so God came to Earth as a man. In life, He set an example for us as the perfect man. And then, fulfilling His ultimate purpose in death, Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us, once and for all. Then, in rising, Jesus shattered death forever, and gave us the final way back to God. All this, because of His unbelievable love for His people.
God is the ultimate example of love, because God is love, and love is a part of God. When we as Christians accept Christ as our savior, God gives us an incredible gift- the unending river of His love. God doesn’t ration out His love among people, or among Christians. Rather, He creates in each person an infinite spring of His love. And with this love, God charges us to one thing- to share that love with all people. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people. All God asks us, when you summarize all commandments, is to share the love He has provided us with.
That is our duty, as soldiers in God’s Army. He has given us every tool we need to complete this task- but it’s up to us to go out and do it. It is our ultimate mission, should we choose to accept it. We are Christ’s ambassadors. That is such a huge privilege. We are called to be His hands, His feet and His face to the world around us. Everything we do has an influence on the way our world views Jesus Christ. So will you choose to represent Him well, or will you give Him a bad name? It’s your decision. But whether you like it or not, as a Christian, you are a model. It is up to you to set a good example. God will help you, every step of the way. He will never forsake you. His Holy Spirit will empower you through it all. And the way that the world will see that you are different is through your love. The way you love fellow Christians, and the way you love others outside of the Church, especially your enemies, will have a huge impact on observers- a much larger impact than you think.
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Nez Perce people with my church and several others. We worked hard that week- doing service projects around the community, mingling with kids at a free lunch program at the high school, and running a VBS and a basketball camp for the local kids and youth. I had the chance to tell the Bible story to the kids at VBS each day. I was amazed, however, at what impacted the kids most. It was our love. Despite the power of the verse, and the Bible point, and the Bible story, the most influential aspect of our ministry was the way we treated each other and the kids. I remember a boy who was an absolute brat the first day. He slapped one of the young teenaged girls on our team, told another she was fat, and was just all-around rude the first day. And yet, for some reason, he still came back the second day, and the third. By the last day, he was completely changed. He tried to get into our van and come back with us! He told us that we were so nice, and that we needed to come back next year.
But it wasn’t just him. All the kids were so impacted by the way we acted! We didn’t even really realize it, but the way we interacted with each other and the way we genuinely cared about the kids changed them more than any Bible story ever could, because we were really living out the commandments of the Bible. We were really being Jesus to the kids. And it felt so good.
This applies to all parts of our lives. There are always people noticing us. And if we swear under our breath when we drop something on our toes, or yell and honk at the car in front of us at the intersection, or snap at our family, people will notice- and it gives Christ a bad image. However, if we are constantly aware of how we act, and we love one another genuinely, and truly care about all the people we interact with, people will notice even more. They will see the difference. And it will have a lasting impact on them.
These days, the world constantly makes Christians out to be legalistic, judgmental, hypocritical, intolerant snobs who teach one thing and do another. And if our lives confirm these beliefs, why would anybody want to be a Christian? Rather, people who see us should find their ideas about Christians challenged. They should look at us and realize, “Wow, that person is really different, and they seem to genuinely care about others.” Simple, common courtesies, like holding doors and speaking politely, are so uncommon these days that even simple thanks-yous and offers to help carry things will really affect people.
And all these things revolve around love. If we try to do these things just because God commands it, or just because we know they’re the right thing, we will fail. We have to really utilize that love that God gives us. If we really, truly love God and His people, then we will act differently. Think about this- I’m sure you treat your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend very differently than you treat others. You don’t do this because you know it’s “morally right”, or because your pastor told you to- you do this because you love them, and you care about them, and you want them to see that. It should be the same with how you interact with God. We should serve and obey Him because we love Him. And we should serve and care for His people because you love them. “Tend my sheep,” Jesus said. He wants us to lovingly care for His people, because we are His ambassadors to Earth. We represent Him here. And everything we do reflects back on Him.