Jesus told us:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35, NIV)
How can you separate your relationship with God and the practice of love? Love is more than feelings. It is commitment and expression/action. When you examine these words, Jesus wants “all men” to know that we are His disciples. And this can be best expressed through our love toward Him, toward each other, and toward ourselves. Sounds a bit like Jesus’ encouragement:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Mt 22:37-39, NIV)
Practicing love is a choice–not a requirement. It is an expression of our love for Him. It expresses our faith and love to Him and others–and even ourselves.
My wife and I are on Day 40 of the Love Dare. The last day is entitled, “Love Is a Covenant.” It compares contracts and covenants. One of the statements made is that “A contract is usually a written agreement based on trust, outlining the conditions and consequences if broken. A covenant is a verbal commitment based on trust, assuring someone that your promise is unconditional and good for life.”
Many approach their relationship with God more as a contract rather than a covenant. God’s love for us does not change. It does not depend on our practice, but the world cannot see what we do not practice. And those practices are often means to opening our awareness to His love that has been there all along even when we felt unlovely.
My wife and I have celebrated many Valentine’s Days together. She knows I love her, but I still need to show her. I gave her roses last night. I bought her Photoshop Elements 7 that she has been wanting. I plan to take her in a little while to a fancy Italian restaurant that we’ve not tried. It is a time for us to “practice” the expression of our love. She knows I love her and I know I love her and vice versa. But love is more than knowledge and feelings.
Make plans to express your love to each other and to “all men.” What could you do as a teacher or member of the class to challenge the class to express His love? Look for opportunities. Practice. Be revolutionary!