That can't be right.
God IS love.
Shouldn't He be the One we look to so we may see what real love looks like?
Rather than cut and paste all of scripture here I challenge you to read through a gospel in whichever translation you prefer and watch how Jesus loved others. It is amazing. Take notes. And then ask yourself if you love like that? You will be challenged.
So what did I learn about how Jesus loved?
* he welcomed unplanned guests
* he answered people's questions
* he spoke for justice
* he sacrificed his own human needs
* he talked to people that most would not reach out to
* he asked questions
* he provided a big meal
* he had time to himself
* he discouraged grumbling between others
* he didn't judge by appearances
* he was merciful
* he pleased God
* he told the truth
* he was resourceful to meet a need
* he laid down his life for his sheep
* he cried over a loss
* he raised someone from the dead
* he let someone bless him
* he was a humble servant
* he washed his friends' feet
* he abides in the Father
* he loved
* he laid down his life
Hmmmm. I am pretty sure the way I love according to a life I live for self has some of that and a whole lot of other conditions applied.
I can't meet the needs of my family until my needs are met first. I can't answer your question again because you have asked it 95,000 times already. I can't talk to you in the parking lot because you look like you might mug me. I can't tell the truth because it might hurt your feelings. I can't invest in getting to know you because it will hurt when we move away. I can't let you bless me because I am the servant. I join in on the grumbling because I don't want to come across as self-righteous. I am too good to bend down and "wash the dirt from your feet". I don't have time to ask you questions about how you are doing because I spent so much time telling you about myself. I can't show you mercy because you don't deserve it. I can't have you over for dinner again because you have never invited me to dinner. I can't meet your need because I don't have enough resources.
I have an ugly heart, people. OK, so some of that was exaggerated but it is a wonder anyone can see God in me. My life is all about me and it is time that changed.
When Jesus lived on earth, love was not a feeling. It was not conditional on the people in his life. Jesus loved at all times. He put others before himself.
I want to love. Really love. No strings attached love. I want to reach out to people and not worry about my schedule or finances or capabilities. I want to be God's hands and feet and I want the people in my world to see His love for them. They can't see Jesus if I make how I love all about me. Loving one another has to be about him. That is where the dying comes in. When you die (to self), you are free to really LOVE.
It doesn't matter if they have hurt you or annoyed you or talked bad about you. God commands us to love one another and it is time we really did it.
I really loved this passage in 1 John 3 and I leave you with this for now.
1 John 3:16-18 (ESV)
Now go love. Love your spouse, your coworker, your father, your enemy, your cashier...as if your life were not your own and your only aim was to show them Jesus.
More to come...