By Rick Cowman
Most of us have had to come to grips with the reality that we have allowed a wall of bitterness to build between us and another member of the Body of Christ. Admitting our bitterness is the first step to wholeness, but then we must deal with the root of the problem, our hearts! And when we choose to forgive one another, appreciate each other’s value in God’s eyes, we can begin to restore that relationship.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, we find God has called us to something very radical, but very fundamental to our relationship with Him, and our relationships with others. In verse 14, God’s word tells us it begins with a RADICAL MOTIVATION. Here’s the words of the text: “...the love of Christ controls us (NASB).” So, what is it that controls you and me? What is the driving, compelling force in your life and mine? If you have Jesus in your life, it should be “the love of Christ!” But if we are to be controlled by the love of Christ, we must first understand what that love is.
First, Jesus’ love is A FREE GIFT! God loves you and me so much that He gave us His only Son that if we would simply trust in Him, receive Him into our lives and commit our lives to Him, we could have eternal life as a free gift. God doesn’t love us because we earned His love or because we measured up somehow, but He loves us because He chose to! His love for you and me is not based on our performance, but on God’s promise!
Jesus’ love is UNCONDITIONAL! Jesus loved us from the cross of Calvary, nearly 2000 years before you were born. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches He loved us even before He created the universe we live in! Romans 5, verse 8, declares, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” Though we continue to sin as a Christian, His love remains unchanging because Jesus never changes. He’s “the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!” We tend to put parameters on who we will love, when we will love, and if we will love. But God says to us, “I love you no matter what!”
Jesus’ love is UNENDING! In the Scriptures our heavenly Father declares to us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love! I will never leave you nor forsake you!” God made a covenant commitment to love you in Christ, and it was an eternal commitment!
As we begin to understand how much God loves US, it changes our perspective of how we are to love others! His model of love motivates us to love as He loves, as stated in 1 John 4, verse 19: “We love because He first loved us!” Understanding His love for us is what motivates us to submit ourselves to be controlled by His love. Verse 17 of our text states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the past is gone, the new has come!” When we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s no longer business as usual! We no longer can live life the way we used to! We are now called to a higher purpose and a purer lifestyle!
Understanding Christ’s love for us not only gives us a radical motivation as a believer, but it also calls us to a RADICAL MINISTRY; specifically, a ministry of reconciliation! This is the subject of next week’s Encouraging Word.