Uncommon Love

Valentine's Day our hearts will turn to love, especially romantic love, but there is another love that defines and motivates me today.

I call it "Uncommon Love."

I made hopeful stabs at this kind of love for yearssacrificial and selfless lovebut the truth is, I could not live out this true kind of love until I knew the love of the Lord for me and in me.

"This is love: not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us and sent his Son 
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

I learned all my efforts to love selflessly would never obligate God to love me back. I am flawed in countless ways, and particularly in my ability to love wisely and well.

But then I read 1 John 4:19.
Because the Lord first loved me, I am able to express uncommon love.
That understanding changed everything!

It is the Lord's effectual love and work in me that enables me to conform to Christ and love as He would, for God is love (1 John 4:16b). He defines and is the pattern for love.

As Christians, God's love is engraved on our souls.

And God wants to perfect His love in us. He wants to direct our hearts to His kind of love (2 Thessalonians 3:5) and causes us to express that love in practical, helpful ways in the church especially, but also to others throughout the world—to those who look and act like us, and those far different.

He wants us to express love:
We must remember God loved the world so much He sent His Son to die to redeem people who were hopeless without Him (John 3:16).

Imagine such love.

That's why hatefulness—any lack of love toward a brother or sistershows we do not truly KNOW or LOVE the Lord of the Bible (1 John 4:19-21). In fact, John says, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar" (4:20).

I've thought a lot about love recently. Voices in the culture demand we "love" in many ways, often in hateful tones (great hypocrisy). Even within the church, there seems to be a disconnect about what loving God-loving others looks like.

We get in our holy huddles and clutch our material possessions without compassion; we only love in word and speech—not in action and truthwhen God calls us to "lay down our lives" for those He loves (1 John 3:17-18). He wants us to love each other as He has loved us, modeling His love to a watching world (John 13:34-35).

I believe love must be connected to the redeeming, sanctifying, heart-changing Gospel, or it is not true love. Anything less, while admirable, may alter culture temporarily or alleviate some stressful situations, but is it the transforming love that comes from a change of heart and change of mind?

There is so much to unpack in 1 John 4so much that is misunderstood by our culture. And I will admit I am a toddler when it comes to expressing godly, agape love.

But this I know: the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (4:14), and it is only by acknowledging our need of Jesus and His righteousness, and allowing the Spirit of God to transform us, that we are made holy and truly loving in the Son.

And it is this holy love from God in usnot the love of religion or even the syrupy, politically correct "love" of the God we think the Bible describesthat gives us "confidence on the day of judgment" (4:17) and best motivates us to love others and meet their needs.

I still have much to learn about loving others in our hurting world with uncommon love. And I have even more to learn about this amazing God who love us firstthe most incredible love of all.

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