So in the first post of the I Am series I forgot to mention this. I used ‘I AM ‘as the base of this series because my understanding of God is that He is eternal seen in how God presented himself before Moses (Exodus 3:14). For me that aspect of eternity put forward, is applicable to every aspect of God’s character. So this time I wanted to address God as “I AM LOVE” as this is who he tells us he is.
I have never been able to fully describe what God’s love is to me, mostly I believe it’s because I didn’t recognise it through my struggles. I often cried out wanting God to show my definition of love and there was total silence (owls hooting in the background silence). I remember reasoning like “ why have you left me ?” Leading me to question his love and forgetting that he calls himself “I AM” meaning he’s eternal/been there from the beginning. So basically even in times its silent he’s still around, even if he doesn’t breakthrough in the way I want or expect. It’s literally taken me years for me to recognise that God’s love (like any parent) is not determined by him answering me every time I call but its determined by the position he places you in his heart. So when he often reminds me “I AM Love” (him) this paints a picture of eternal love is poured out upon me/you.
So I guess now the question is: ‘What is love?’
Well firstly the Bible states God is love (1 John 4:8) then breaks down the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 saying “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails”.
Even though I’d read these verses before, this time I really connected with how we are vessels that carry Gods love for it to be seen by the world. This time it was different, because I immediately felt compelled to ask for help tearing down certain walls in my mind. Walls that meant I unknowingly found it easier to show love to those who loved me, but notice how God says “love” but never specifies on whom to love? Sometimes I used excuses like “well I find it difficult to get close to certain people/I’m not a people’s person”, without realising how I was creating my own limitations. Limitations which blocked me from understanding the fullness of his definition of love.
So lately God’s been saying to me is “Love people without limits for it’s within this love you will find me. Love others on purpose even those who don’t do the same for you” one reason being “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:35. The way I’m seeing it is this, if ‘God is love’ then it’s not just a label but something rooted in him (part of his identity), meaning that this should be part of my identity, a default setting in my daily living. See how Gods love is always underlined by a form of responsibility, which he takes on to reveal love to us? That means on a practical level this involves me and you actually reaching out to people, looking for the gold and not the dirt/going the extra mile.
For us Gods love has been shown through the cross as it represented an ultimate sacrifice which cleansed us from all sin. Secondly, this meant we we are now able to stand boldly before God to pursue true relationship, transforming God to also being Abba (father). It’s through his love I see that love also represents sacrifice. Sacrifice again meaning consciously choosing to move away from ‘I want’ and hunger to know God’s heart. Like with me I now see how the walls we create are often a result of ‘self-made comfort zones’, which actually limit any form of sacrifice in love shown to others, especially when they’re not close to us.
“What does love practically look like in this generation?”: Simple Steps
This is a question I don’t hear being addressed often and I strongly believe it’s because methods of love are commonly assumed as coming with the Christian life, meaning that we should know how to love. But sometimes it can be difficult to know how to apply in different settings. So I’d say this is something depending on the situation, how God leads you and those involved. However, I’d also say love is always underlined by bringing out the best in people.
Personally I enjoy complementing people, I love using compliments to draw on people’s identity e.g. “You’re /you look beautiful, I love your eyes etc”. Often people are walking/talking with so much outward confidence but feel so insecure. That’s were Holy Spirit comes in…..cause he helps you to identify something which may need reinforcing in someone’s life. So it’s not about how you see them, but you asking him to open your eyes to the truth of the message you’re carrying and delivering it as instructed.
Secondly giving is always a good one, the bible says that everything you do unto men you do it into God. So that means even as you give it’s a beautiful gesture you’re not just giving to the person but also God. Recently God showed me how when you give a gift to someone you’re “giving a gift unto a gift” meaning you’re giving something special (whether in words or a physical form) to a person/people he treasures (his gift to the world). With that in mind be careful what thoughts you entertain regarding that person even if they do you wrong. That just means don’t let it affect you your whole life, because bitterness stops love.Also remember that love is not just about good acts, but a transformation of the heart that changes your outlook on everything around you, meaning friends, family and strangers alike. Anyone can act out acts of love but the intention is what determines whether it’s love. So Holy Spirit helps us as the process isn’t always easy or straightforward.
Another thing I’ve learnt is that in order to fully love we need to face truth. Truths about ourselves that can be stumbling blocks in doing what Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” John 13:34. In this passage he can’t have been talking about just Christians as his whole ministry was based on reaching out to those who didn’t know God and were living in sin. The Bible shows how ‘love’ is the most important thing God wants us to pursu in serving him, because it changes everything,.
So I guess the next question is: ‘What can I personally do next?’
I always prepare giving advice based on my own experiences because personally I believe every experience has the power to empower another. Meaning the things you go through no matter how little or big can help in providing someone simple steps of how to move forward. So with that in mind, firstly I would always advise:
- PRAY – honestly even when you’re unable to feel a response or see change, know that things are moving because your Abba (father) hears you. If you don’t hear anything keep asking. Keep an eye out for thoughts which come into your mind when faced with loving or blessing people. God will begin to speak to you through your interactions to transform your thinking/mind which ultimately start changing your actions.
- MAKE A DECISION – as previously highlighted it’s mainly about you making a conscious decision like “yes Daddy I want to love, I want to understand the length and breadth of it, for me to see people the way you do”. If you often ask to know Gods heart know that relentless love is always at the top. That’s the very reason Jesus came to a stubborn people (us) and chose to pour himself out for our sake. Guys love is intentional!!
- ACCEPT THAT ITS A PROCESS – admittedly love/loving is not always easy because as human beings we are prone to get angry, irritated and so forth. I can honestly say this is something I have often done, but I also remember that God is not looking for perfection but he is looking to see that our hearts and minds are pursuing his will and way….so he’s looking for correction and not perfection. Mistakes along the way are a reflection of what we are imperfect, although through a deeper and sincere relationship with him our behaviour will begin to align itself to Gods will.
Remember: God beautifully knitted love into our identity, but it’s essentially up to us to make a conscious decision to walk in it. It’s not enough just talk about love but we must pursue it.