|Photo by Bogdan 2005|
Saturday, August 27, 2016
A dear friend of mine from high school recently lost her son. I cannot even begin to imagine how deep a loss that is, and psychologists say that is the worst life event one could possibly endure. She has so beautifully preserved his memory and his life-affirming spirit in so many ways – celebrating his birthday, placing a memorial bench along a path he enjoyed hiking, and writing many moving Facebook posts.
In response to one of these posts I wrote “Love never ends,” as the Spirit moved me. But as I thought about it subsequently, I realized that there is a sound theological basis underpinning that statement.
John, the beloved apostle of Christ, wrote that God is love (1 John 4:8). God is never-ending, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8,11; 21:6; 22:13), the self-existent, great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) Who spoke His creation into existence (John 1:1-3). So, if God is love, and God transcends all time, then love also must never end. John went on to say that we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and that we love Him and one another as an expression of His love (1 John 4:7-21). So even human love, as empowered by His divine love, must also never end.
Jesus Himself summarized all the commandments by telling us to love God and to love one another (Matthew 22:37-40). “Agape,” translated from the Greek as “charity” in the King James Version, is that self-sacrificing love epitomized by Christ, giving all while receiving nothing in return. He suffered on the cross, laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13), and was the perfect, sinless sacrifice to pay for all our sins (John 1:29) even while we were His enemies (Romans 5:6-10).
This agape love is what God is, and what we hope to emulate in our earthly relationships. None of this is possible without yielding to His Holy Spirit, Who indwells each believer (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30) at the moment we are born again (John 3:3-8) by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).
John also writes that God is light, referring to His perfect holiness and purity untainted by even one iota of darkness (John 1:4-5; 1 John 1:5). Through the science of physics we now know that light also never ends, for it is an energy wave composed of particles known as photons, and it cannot be created or destroyed. (However, Einstein discovered that under extraordinary circumstances, energy and matter are interconvertible). Because light never ends, we ultimately can see light from distant stars many, many light-years away.
Because God is love, and God is light, then love must also be light, a never-ending, pure, holy, spiritual energy emanating from God Himself. Finally, John reveals that God is Spirit (John 4:24), which further confirms the spiritual nature not only of God but also of love.
In the well-known “love” chapter of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13, often read at weddings, the apostle Paul explains that love is the motivator that gives our words, deeds, and life itself its meaning. We can be the most eloquent of speakers; have impressive spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues and faith; and do charitable deeds, even the ultimate self-sacrifice of giving our body to be burned. But unless these are motivated by love, they are without meaning or value.
Faith is the cornerstone of our salvation, for we are saved by God’s grace through our faith in His Son (Ephesians 2:8-9), and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Our glorious, living hope (1 Peter 1:3; Titus 2:13) is in Christ’s return for His children at the Rapture, when we shall be as He is and live eternally with Him and our loved ones in Him (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). That hope encourages us to press on even when our earthly circumstances and future seem bleak.
But Paul writes that love is even greater than faith and hope! (1 Corinthians 13:13). I believe that is because of the eternal nature of love, but not of faith and of hope. Now we experience Christ imperfectly through His Word and His Spirit within us. We have faith in His precious promises, and hope that He will soon return. But when we see Him face to face, we shall know Him perfectly and completely even as He knows us! (1 Corinthians 13:10-12)
Then we will no longer need faith or hope, for His promises will be wholly and eternally fulfilled. We don’t need to believe or hope that we will receive a reward once we actually receive it. We will live and reign forever with Him in glorified bodies that will never age, sin, or experience sickness, sorrow or pain (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). We will forever enjoy His radiant presence and that of our loved ones in Him, never having to say goodbye, even if temporary. The glories of Heaven and the bliss we shall experience there are beyond our imagination (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Faith and hope will vanish, for they will no longer be needed, but love shall endure! Heaven will overflow with fountains of love for Him and for one another, for love never ends! Even while we walk this earth, we can know that Spirit-inspired love for Christ and for one another will never end. May we spend our days as channels of His perfect love!
© 2016 Laurie Collett
Saturday, August 20, 2016
|Photo by Kar Gupta 2014|
May you enjoy this repost from the archives!
Through His Word, God shows us His general plan for our lives, which includes abundant life here and now, and eternity with Him in Heaven if we have a personal relationship with His Son. Nothing the world has to offer can compare with that, and if we place our faith in anything else, it will lead to our destruction (John 10:10).
I had a beautiful dream of walking at sunset, as though God were leading me along a quiet path, winding up through a mountain pass, where He could show me a glimpse of what He intended for me. A refreshing, gentle wind brushed against my skin, and in the distance I could see a single, majestic, snow-capped mountain, dusky blue, but lit from behind by the rosy light of the setting sun.
I was truly content and filled with a sense of wonder at God’s love. But then I felt Him directing my gaze downward, to the side of the road, which surprised me as I was so drawn to the view of the peak above. Thankfully, I listened, as almost hidden in the lush, green vines carpeting the path were two miniature orchids, delicately floating in the breeze like dancers swaying in embroidered ball gowns of lavender and white. What an exquisite reminder that He attends to every detail in our lives!
I awoke feeling overwhelmed by His love, and realizing that we are blessed not only by our ultimate destiny in heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:4-7), but by so many expressions of love He places along our daily journey to bring us joy in Him as He rejoices over us (Zephaniah 3:17). If we race ahead with no thought to our surroundings, we may miss His subtle whispers of love that encourage and uplift us.
It would be a blessing if all my dreams were peaceful epiphanies like these, but there are lessons to be learned even from the more mundane and frantic dreams. The next night I again dreamed I saw a mountain peak, but the setting was very different. This time I was riding in a small car on the track of an amusement park ride, and the mountain peak was a poor representation of God’s natural creation. It was the focal point of the ride and the color scheme was similar, but it was a cheap imitation in plaster of Paris with flaking paint. At the base of the peak was a dark vortex of churning water that the car was meant to pass through to descend to the next part of the ride, ominous and foreboding as the final destination was hidden.
I felt so cheated as I looked up at the fake mountain, refusing to believe it was not what I had experienced before. Surely if I could look at it longer, it would somehow transform into the heavenly creation representing the glorious city on the hill (Psalm 48:1; Ezekiel 40:2; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 2:1-3). So I took matters into my own hands, grabbing the sides of the car and derailing it just before it was swept into the vortex. I struggled to push it back, away from the force of the whirlpool, only to find myself confronting oncoming traffic from the cars that were still on their preset course, and headed for a multi-car collision.
What a relief to awaken, and to realize that nothing the world has to offer can compare with God’s gifts of love and peace that satisfy us completely (Ephesians 3:14-17). Cheap imitations leave us hungry, frustrated, and unfulfilled, and spending more time with them only aggravates the emptiness rather than relieving it, because they keep us from spending time with Him (Matthew 6:19-24).
Why would we want to waste our time with man-made distractions when He speaks to us daily through His Word (Jeremiah 15:16; Luke 8:15; Colossians 3:16), His creation (Psalm 19:1), the counsel of brothers and sisters in Christ (Proverbs 27:9,17), and in so many other ways? It is far easier to keep ourselves out of worldly places where we should not go than to escape once we are there, as the momentum of others caught up in the same fate will pull us down, resulting in disaster (Proverbs 7:4-27; Exodus 23:33).
May we keep our eyes on the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), our feet in high places (2 Samuel 22:34; Psalm 18:33; Habakkuk 3:19), and our life in Him (Acts 17:28) as He leads us safely on our journey, lavishing His love and joy on us along the path and preparing an amazing destiny for us in Heaven (1 Corinthians 2:9). He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
© 2012 Laurie Collett