I have often wondered how Jesus could command love. One cannot control emotions, neither can they be directed. Yet throughout the New Testament we are commanded to love others, most notably John 13:34 “A new commandI give you: Love one another.As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. It is verses like this one that gives me a hard time. I have found there are some people I just don’t get along with, people whose personality’s clash with my own. Yet I am commanded not only to love them but to show them the same type of love that Christ demonstrated to me by going to the cross. I have come to learn that the love of Christ is not an emotion but an act of will. The Bible pictures a God who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. This is based on a decision to love the world regardless of their worthiness or reaction. It is His choice to love us even when we are undeserving. Human love is usually a response to something worthy and lovable in the other person. This is the big difference between worldly love and divine agape love. Paul writes, “You see, at just the right time,when we were still powerless,Christ died for the ungodly.”Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8. God showed His love to us because we need it, not because we deserve it. Faced with Christ’s demonstration of love and the challenge to love others in that same way, it can be easy to feel incapable. The Bible teaches us that this divine love can only come through God. Romans 5:5 “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit it begins to dry up the fountain of selfishness within us and replaces it instead with his divine love. This love is listed first of the fruits that the Spirit produces in the Christians life. We learn that it is God who enables us to love others through His Spirit. It is said a person can do without loving, but that it is impossible to love without doing. Love naturally seeks to express itself to the object of that love. 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” The proof of God’s love was clearly seen through His action. We too are challenged not to love with words and tongue but with action and truth. It is the action of love that will one day identify us as people belonging to God, who is love.• Micheal Hurlbert is pastor of Carson City's First Christian Church.
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