|Photo by Bogdan 2005|
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