Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

10/16/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Love's Compelling Nature

 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;

and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to

love one another. God is love. Whoever lives in love

lives in God, and God in him.

We love because He first loved us.

 

  Most of us know the story, but we may not have considered the love it describes. The Eighteenth Century Fairy Tale "Beautyand the Beast" tells of a handsome young Prince who was made ugly by a Fairy after he refused her hospitality during a storm. Beast was trapped in the form of a hideous looking body. He lived alone because he was desperately trying to avoid the disgust on the faces of those who would see him. Beast could only be restored to his original handsome nature if someone loved him, genuinely loved him in spite of his horrible appearance. One day Beauty appears and, ultimately, offered him this kind of forgiving, redeeming, transforming love.

 

  G. K. Chesterton wrote that the greatest lesson of "Beauty and the Beast" is that "a thing must be loved before it is lovable."

 

  We are the Beast, made hideous by our sin. But God sees through who and what we've become, and loves us in spite of our ugliness, in spite of our own sinful self. God loves us with a different kind of love, agape.

 

• Agape is a love of the will...

• Agape is a decision...

• Agape seeks nothing in return...

• Agape loves regardless of the behavior of the recipient...

• Agape always seeks the best for the loved.

• Agape is unconditional...

• Agape is a divine love.

 

  Perhaps this love that God has for us is best explained by Paul in Romans chapter eight: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him"... "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"... "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."... "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 8.28-39 & 5.8).

 

  Receiving God's love into our hearts creates a reservoir of love we can draw from when we need to love another, even the unlovable and unlovely. We, like Beast, can now love others with this same special kind of love, agape. In fact Paul tells us that "God's love, agape, compels us" to love likewise. Jesus says...

 

"A new commandment I give you... That you love (Agape) one another" (John 13.34).

 

"This is My commandment... That you love, Agape, one another as I have loved you" (John 15.12).

 

"By this all will know that you are My disciples... If you love, Agape, one another" (John 13.35).

 

  Listen church, only, only when we understand how much God loves us will we be able to love one another as we should, as we've been commanded. "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and gave Himself for us" Ephesians 5.1-2).

 

—Randall Caselman