Loving Christ is the pre-requisite to a fulfilled life.
HYMN: MY JESUS I LOVE THEE
Text: John 14:15-24, 1 John 4:7-21, 5:1-5
Love is a strong feeling of fondness for another person, especially between members of a family or close friends. It is also to feel love, desire or strong friendship for, and to have strong liking for, or take pleasure in something or someone (Longman dictionary of contemporary English).
The Bible could be seen as one big love story Book about God’s family (Mat. 22:37-40). That God loves us is evident in John 3:16, Rom. 5:8 says, “But God commendeth His love toward us that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Therefore, if Christ died for us it behooves us to reciprocate by responding to His love in total submission, obedience and sincere services.
It is unfortunate to observe that there are many people today who have not responded to this love. They believe in Him in a certain sense but they have never really experienced deep in their hearts how warm, real, tender, loving and gracious He really is. It is because their hearts are so fondly wrapped around the earthly ream.
To love the Lord, there must be a fervent and sincere desire to know Him, fellowship with him, study his word/keep his commandments as well as loving one another. In this lies true peace and joy; God’s blessings, fulfillment and above all eternal life.
It is important to know that despising this gesture of divine offer attracts untold disaster.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To know that God first loved us.
2. To know what it means to love Jesus.
3. To know the effect of loving Jesus.
4. To know the dangers of ignoring Christ’s love.
Q1. HOW DID GOD SHOW HIS LOVE TOWARDS US?
God is love (1 John. 4:8). In His love for man at creation, the first man (Adam) was placed in the comfort of the garden of Eden to enjoy his life with definite instruction not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, else he would die. In the process of time because man chose to disobey God as a consequence he died spiritually. As a result, death passed upon mankind (Romans 5:12, 15).
But God in His infinite mercy and love sent His only begotten Son, who willingly and sacrificially paid the full price for our redemption with His own precious blood. (Eph. 2:1-9, Heb. 10:4-5). God freely gave His Son as his righteous love gift for the salvation of a world of sinners. This adequately met the redemptive need of mankind. God showed us His love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for all.
Q2. WHAT IS IMPLIED BY “LOVE FOR JESUS”?
Knowing that Christ demonstrated His love towards us by His sacrificial death even while we were yet in sin (Rom. 5:8), we need to willingly reciprocate this gesture of love in a number of ways.
Firstly, we must acknowledge Him as Lord (1 Jn. 5:1). By this we must accept His sole lordship and accord Him the due worship and reverence.
Secondly, we must believe in the testimony of the Father concerning Him- His death and resurrection. By this, the power and spirit of Him that raised Jesus Christ from the grave shall be appropriated to us, quickening and transforming our un-regenerated mortal body. (Jn 5:9-13, Jn 1:12). Consequently, sinners must respond positively to this love by confessing, repenting from and forsaking their sins and make a deliberate effort to live a sanctified life in righteousness and holiness without which no eyes can see the Lord.
Also, there is the need to seek to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering and be made conformable unto His death.
In Philippians 3:10-14, Apostle Paul had a burning desire to know Christ very deeply and to become familiar with the power that made Him rise from the dead. He desired to be involved in Christ’s suffering, and to live a life that is consistent with the death He had to die to reconcile man to God.
In 2 Cor 5:14, 15, Paul rightly puts it thus: “For the love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And that he died for all that they which live should not hence forth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again”. It was a full and deep-seated desire to be fused with Christ in soul and spirit.
Moreso, the self-denial dimension demonstrated by Paul as demanded by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matt. 10:38, 39, should be given sufficient emphasis. The class is expected to X-ray how the following can contribute to knowing and loving Christ more and more.
1. Fervent prayer (James 5:16)
2. Studying the word of God and abiding by them (2 Tim. 2:15, John 14:15).
3. Constant fellowship with brethren (Heb. 10:25, Acts 2:42-44).
4. Personal evangelism (Mark 16:16, Matt. 28:19-20, 2 Tim. 4:2).
5. Commitment to the local assembly in the service of the Lord
Another indispensable implication of loving Jesus is to love one another, especially those of the household of faith. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:34,35). “He that loveth his bother abideth in the light and there is no occasion for stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:10, 11, 23,24). Christians must attain the understanding that loving God as well as loving the brethren can never be separated (1 Jn. 4:19-21).
Q3. WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF NOT LOVING JESUS?
Just as the benefits of loving Jesus are overwhelming and unquantifiable, so also are the negative consequences of not loving Him. John 3:18, 19 says “He that believeth in Him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”.
A rejection of the provisions of our Lord Jesus Christ amounts to prayers not answered (Prov. 28:9), loss of real peace and joy and lack of satisfaction and fulfillment; the ultimate result is damnation John 3:36 summarizes it, thus, “he that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”. Consequently, the erring individual (sinner) has the devil as his master and hence cannot enjoy God’s blessing and thereby endangering his soul.
Also, when an individual claims to be a child of God but does not have a firm and warm affection for Him such an individual will be unfaithful in discharging his or her duty in the body of Christ hence he/she will not enjoy the material and spiritual blessings of God. Such ungrateful individual exposes himself to attacks from the devil and the extent cannot be imagined.
However, the only way to be at peace with God and enjoy His blessings is to totally yield unto Him in true service.
Q4. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LOVING JESUS?
The benefits of loving Jesus are numerous, overwhelming and cannot be quantified. Acknowledging the love of God towards an individual and reciprocating by doing same to Him, has its corresponding effects in the life of the individual in particular and the society at large.
The scripture declares in John 3:17, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world though him might be saved”. He that has the Son has eternal life and the life is in the Son (1 Jn. 5:11, 12).
In John 14:15-28, it is clear that if we love the Lord, He will send us the comforter who will abide with us even the spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because they don’t love him; our future is guaranteed (v. 19); He that loves Jesus will invariably be loved by His Father and they will manifest themselves to him and make their abode in him (v. 21,23); the Holy Ghost shall be your teacher, guide, and reminder (v. 26); the peace of God which dispels fear will be made available (v. 27). There are present and eternal rewards, for all those who follow Him will receive hundred-fold or all they have lost in this world and in the world to come life everlasting. (Mark 10:28-30).
In fact, loving Jesus brings fulfillment and actualization in the real sense.
Daily Living Application
God has demanded His love towards mankind from the beginning till now, to the extent of sacrificing His only begotten Son for sinners. To reciprocate this gesture men must acknowledge His Lordship as well as honor Him. This will enable the individual to establish a meaningful relationship with Him. Refusal to respond positively to God’s love earns the individual a place in hell fire which is prepared for the devil and his followers. Repent of your sins today; accept Jesus Christ into your life and give Him a sincere service of love. He will give meaning to your life and prosper your soul.
The believer should respond positively by having a firmer grip of His word as well as promoting the unity of the brethren through overflowing agape love.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment”.
Daily Devotional Guide
Monday: Commandment to love.
Tuesday: Loving Christ
Wednesday: God’s love and ours
1 John 4:7-21
Thursday: Love one another
1 John 3:11-24
Friday: Characteristics of Love
1 Cor. 13:4-8
Saturday: Reasons for Loving the Lord