The apostle John tells us in no uncertain terms that God is love... However, he spoke something to me that hit me like a ton of bricks. I read 1John 4:8, Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. How many times and in how many ways do I NOT love? I think far too often. I don’t have a problem including the outcasts; for me, that’s easy, but, lately I have been confronted with the fact that I have been pretty unloving to those who I would say are religiously dogmatic. I’m sorry but I have struggled loving the self righteous... the judgmental. I have gone so far as to judge them and that is the source of my growing pains.
I hear the Spirit telling me this: “ My love is radical Joe... you are very correct, I love the outcasts; I love those who are judged and further, I am not judging them at all... I love them and accept them just where they are”...
Big smile on my face but, then, the Spirit goes on to say...” I love the judgmental also... yes indeed, I love the Pharisaic spirited person... I radically love all people and, that is why I was willing to go to the cross. I went there for the outcasts and, the self righteous.”
Whoa! ... that stings! I’m thinking to myself....”but Lord you yelled at the Pharisees!.”
The Spirit reading my mind says... “yes, I did but it was out of love.... why have you yelled at them?”
I immediately had to realize and answer honestly... “out of anger,” my head drops.
Then the Spirit asks, “Can you love from a place of anger?”
My reply has to be “No,” a little shame sneaks in.
Ok, I have bared my heart a little. I need to repent... If I have hurt you with my ministry please forgive me. Understand that when I begin to be critical from now on... I am going to try to be loving, considerate and, if I have to come from a place of anger... I am going to try to just be silent.
Still, I want to point out that God is Love. God is agape (ahg-a-pay). So what is this love that is what God is? I like this definition; Thomas Jay Oord has defined agape as "an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being” In other words, it is making the situation better. Agape has the highest and best outcome at purpose. This is the highest and best outcome for all people. This is radical love. This is the love that Jesus possesses and, guess what, if I truly have Jesus in me it should be the love that I possess. All of us who name the name of Jesus should have this love for all. This is not syrupy love. It is love that causes us to esteem others greater than we esteem ourselves.
Can I confess? Can I be honest? This is painful. This is hard. This will take some radical rethinking on my part. Pray for me as I seek the Lord’s help in cultivating this love.