Jesus taught His disciples in John 13:34 and 15:9 to love others as He had loved them. He revealed that the source of love in His life came from knowing and experiencing His Father’s love for Him. Jesus knew His ability to love came from being loved by His Father. Our ability to love comes the same way.
I can hear some say, “But Ed, Jesus was perfect and sinless that is why His Father loved Him.” I know many people believe and see it that way, which is why they battle to accept the love God has for them. But if that is true then Jesus did a poor or dishonest job in showing us who or what God is like. Jesus taught us to love our enemies in Luke 6. Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners. He said there is “no greater love, than one who lays his life down for his friends.” During the first century of the church’s existence, the apostle Paul was God’s biggest enemy. He commissioned the arrest and execution of God’s children in the most horrific ways. Nevertheless, his testimony in the book of Titus shows his miraculous transformation:
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3–7, KJV).
You can see why Paul wrote this to the Roman church. He had experienced this as a reality in his life.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, KJV).
I am 100% convinced by what Jesus taught about God’s love. Later, the disciples taught the same truth: a person’s ability to love others is directly related to his/her acceptance of God’s love.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9, KJV).
What an amazing statement from Jesus! The disciples realized that God the Father loved them just as Jesus did. Truth is they were experiencing God’s love to the same degree Jesus was.
No wonder John is nicknamed the Apostle of Love. He wrote so eloquently about it but was also careful to clearly point out that loving God had nothing to do with what we did for God. Rather, it was about what we believe and experience with God.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:10–11, KJV).
Notice John explains what the end result will be when we believe God loves and has forgiven us. We are now capable of loving and forgiving others as we have been loved and forgiven.
So trying harder to be a good, loving Christian won’t make you a loving Christian. Instead, believing in the love God has for you will.
John summarizes all he is saying in 1 John 4:19, “We love God because He first loved us.”
The simple fact is you can’t love God until you believe and receive the love He has for you.