For the disciple presently in a relationship with Christ, we should have a concept about what it means to be loved by God. Many of us give thanks daily for the bountiful blessings we receive that provide for our physical lives. We are amazingly blessed! As James rightly says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17) Although gratitude is rightly expressed for all our earthly blessings, these are mere shadows of the profound love that God has for us, for mankind. It is this love we look to be reminded of today.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
When we seek to imagine the cross, its grotesqueness is almost too difficult to fathom. Many who have watch the movie The Passion, found the scenes of Jesus’s beatings and crucifixion too horrid to watch. The price being paid on the cross is only part of our understanding of God’s love. What was He purchasing? Paul writes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) I wonder, do you think the word “sinner” has lost some of its sting? Well, two verses later Paul would describe sinners as being “enemies.” (Romans 5:10) The word means “actively, hostile, hating, and opposing another . . . used of men as at enmity with God by their sin.” (Thayer’s) This word is describing the world for which God gave His Son to die for: a world filled with His enemies, one of them being me.
As I ponder that very thought, I hesitate to consider the cross. Jesus died on that retched tree because of sinful man, one of them being me! But God wants me to look to the cross and realize that He willingly gave “His only begotten Son” in hopes that I would believe in Him: trust in His sacrifice. Paul writes, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9) This is everlasting life! Those sins which made me an enemy of God have been washed away because of the love of God through Christ; that is, if I am willing to believe in His love for me.
Just how important is this love when it comes to our ability to disciple others? Paul writes, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died: and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2nd Corinthians 5:14-15) God’s love, expressed through Christ towards His enemies, in hopes to reconcile them back, is what moves us into action. Are you moving?