Do We Really Love?

Religion-love affair

Why has God put in our hearts this need to be loved? We all seem to have this human trait in common if we take the time to get in touch with our emotions. Physiologists have found that infants which are not held and loved, but otherwise have their physical needs met, will eventually die. Then I would ask this… Is the need to love as strong in any of us as the need to be loved? Between these two longings seems to be a large chasm fixed. Why this deficit? Doesn’t it stand to reason that God created man with as great a capacity to love as he has to be loved? As I look at the scriptures it seems that God has both of these qualities equally. He speaks of Israel as His longed-for bride in the Old Covenant and in the New He speaks of the church as the bride of Christ. He longs for our devotion and love as well as defining Himself as Love. This deficit to love is at the root of the damage that came upon mankind when Adam and Eve fell. When they sought to be made “wise” without Him, they became self-centered and cold.

 John wrote,

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 KJ2000)

 Here we are commanded to love, but there is no command to be loved is there? No, the longing to be loved is innate in us and God put it there for God IS love. What a bold statement! But even bolder is the command written here to love one another, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.” Do we really love one another, my fellow saints? Do we love one another the way God loves us? Isn’t this what John is saying, “Everyone that loves is born of God” Do we really live as if He IS our Father, living by the same attributes?

 I recently wrote the following in a letter to a dear friend in Christ, “Is love just a game? Is it some kind of sport where we maneuver with one another, each one trying to get into a position so that the other one needs us but we maintain control so we don’t need them? As I look around at all the relationships I have seen, it really seems to be the case. How often have you ever seen a married couple that both NEEDED each other the same amount with the same intense love? Or is it that I have come from such a dysfunctional family background that I perceive relationships this way?”

 How often in the relationship between two people do you see a mutually in-depth love for one another? Isn’t it almost always lopsided? Today I see so many marriages where one person loves the other and the other one seems indifferent and self-centered. There are many unequally yoke couples in Christendom today. The ones who have truly given themselves to one another spirit, soul and body in complete unity, the unity that the Father has with the Son are rare indeed. Yet, isn’t it something we all long for who are IN Christ? Grant it, not all are really IN Christ among even those who call themselves “Christian,” yet is not this the very gauge that John has put forth in the above quoted passage? If this malady is true of husband and wife relationships in the church, how much more is it true of the relationships that members of Christ’s body have with one another who are not so closely bound? I can’t get away from Jesus last will and testament:

That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23 KJ2000)

 Christian unity, even marital unity and love for one another are bound together. John goes on to write,

 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. In this is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:16-17 KJ2000)

Can you see how these two verses here tie right in with Jesus’ final prayer? “He that dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.” Coupled with, “I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one…” How many of us really dwell in love and unity? Don’t most of us spend our waking hours dwelling on our own needs and desires? Yet in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is this an attribute of the love of God? Here Paul wrote, “Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” Is God really dwelling in us as we spend the day focused on our wants and desires? If so He must be pushed into a back room closet.

 “He that dwells in love, dwells in God and God in him.” Do we so dwell in the love of God that we are made perfect by His indwelling power of love in us? Are we made perfect in love? And if not will we have boldness on that judgment day? John seems to tie the love of God in with boldness as well for he continues to say,

 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19 RSVA)

 We love because He first loved us. His love for us and in us has enabled us to love as He does, also. Fear has torment, yet if we are dwelling in the love of our Father, if we really know HIM as the one who loves us so, we will have no fear from Him or anyone else for that matter. Love does that! It makes you bold. Bold enough to love others as God loves you without fear. How many of us love this way? Aren’t we afraid to be vulnerable with one another and as a result aren’t we really afraid to love for fear of being dumped or fear that if we share our most intimate secrets with a person they will not love us anymore or worse yet, blab them to others whom we do not trust?

 Aren’t most of us afraid to let our real emotions show for fear of criticism or being crushed? So there we go living life wanting to be loved by others, yet afraid to let them know it? You see, for real love to work it requires great vulnerability and many opportunities to be wounded. This is why John inserts here the fact that perfect love casts out fear. We must be so moved by the love of our Father that we can openly communicate His love to others and be willing to keep loving them even when that love is not reciprocated. This is the kind of love that Jesus had for those who killed Him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37 RSVA).

 It is said that the apostle John whom we quote, was the longest living of all the apostles and as such he was the last one living that had seen and lived with Jesus Christ. They would bring him into a gathering of saints on a stretcher and they would wait to see what this old saint would have to say to them and he would rise up on one elbow and say, “Little children, it is enough that you love one another.”

 So, dear saints, I pray that we might all be so changed by the love of our Father that we become instruments of His love to others regardless of how they do or do not receive us. “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” THIS is the way God loves and it is here that we will manifest whether we are truly mature in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

 A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJ2000)

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23 comments on “Do We Really Love?

  1. Pat Orr says:

    Amen and amen. I read this morning in 2John the familiar “that your joy may be full”. Then I was amazed at the reason for the joy being full. John said, “when I see you face to face my joy will be full”. I realize that I blush at that type of language. Perhaps, without realizing it, some of us have a fear of love, because we still have a flawed understanding of the love of God. If John were writing today – the same words -that are recorded in the NT that he wrote 2000 years ago; we would hear them against the present understanding. Would we consider him dangerous? In spite of my lacking, I have been praying, “Lord, I want to love as You love”. I believe that He is answering my prayer.

    Can I boldly and humbly say,” His love to you”,

    Pat Orr

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    • Michael says:

      This is a great comment, Pat, right from your heart! I believe that out of fear, religion has done all it can to take the love of the Lord out of Christianity and replace it with law so it can keep people in line. Jesus said that those who walk by the Spirit are like the wind and so is the love of God… you can’t channel it to just certain types of people… it is poured out on the whole world, “God so loved the world…”

      The Greek word for “worship” can be defined as “blowing kisses.”
      proskuneō
      Thayer Definition:
      1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence

      If we walk in His love and in the Spirit we will love all whom HE loves and many will be touched by it (loving Him because He first loved them) and they will blow kisses back to HIM as well.

      Yes, John wrote many things that would be considered “dangerous” and ARE considered dangerous today because he takes controlling men out of the picture and puts Jesus and His Spirit in their place! Take these “dangerous verses” for instance, “These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him.”(1 John 2:26-27 KJ2000). Aren’t you glad that God refuses to be contained in the religious boxes of men?

      Thank you for bringing 2 John to my attention… John wrote this dear sister in Christ in very endearing terms… what a scandal this would be today in church circles for an elder in Christ to write such a letter! “The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth… Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 1:1-12 RSVA). Pat, I believe Jesus is answering your prayer as well and I hope to meet you and your husband face to face some day that OUR joy may be complete as well.

      His love to you as well, my sister!!!
      Michael

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  2. Excellent, Michael!!

    A very deep, heart-touching, and well-wrought article. Your entry is a beautiful read both for heart and mind, that means, your words are balanced, springing simultaneously from your right and left brain. I really felt that you have been fully led by the Spirit of God. Thanks so much for posting! 🙂

    Your sister in Him,
    Susanne

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    • Michael says:

      Susanne, when I write these blogs I often feel like I am “flying by the seat of my pants” in the Spirit… not always knowing how they will be received or even if I REALLY heard God in what I share. I end up posting these often heart felt thoughts in fear and trembling most of the time. It is interesting that my German sister sees this post as “balanced, springing simultaneously from your right and left brain.” I have never until recently thought of writing under the influence of the Spirit in such terms, but God did make us both right and left brained. 🙂 We men seem to mostly be left brained (analytical in nature) and women tend to be mostly right brained (emotional and creative in nature) though this is not always the case. I am seeing the value of allowing God to use both sides of our brains, if you will, as He stirs us to write and share with others. I long for Him to get me out of my head and more into my heart where HE abides. Susanne, I know that you also have been writing more and more in this same balance on your blog, which I appreciate very much. Keep up your good heart searching writings. They are a real blessing to all.

      Your brother in His love to you (as Pat so boldly shared),
      Michael

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  3. Stepping out of our safety zone can be quite the task, and then, with the servant heart, reach out and love others in a tangible way.
    Don’t expect that love to be returned. That can be heartbreaking when it isn’t. But by abiding in His Spirit, this is workable. You can do it. Just the other day I put it to test again with some brothers. The joy of loving and serving. One of the brothers responded positively. The other two……dead silence. Hear the crickets?
    I believe it’s the ‘heaping hot coals’ deal going on.
    Paul even said at one point that ‘the more I love, the less I be loved’.
    Welcome to what God continually deals with. The more He reaches out and blesses and loves, the more He is ignored.
    So we do fellowship in the sufferings of Christ in that manner, yet that rejection can be endured by His power and His…well you said Michael….His love! When that love is returned, it’s a precious benefit but I’ve learned not to count on it. It suffices that His love sustains us and keeps us safe.

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    • Michael says:

      Devon, Yes, not having people always reciprocate to the love of the Lord in us as we reach out to them is all too common. Jesus healed ten lepers and only one of them, a Samaritan at that, returned and thanked Him. Yes, it is a wonderful thing when a fellow saint of God loves us in return, but we also need to learn to find HIS love sufficient in sustaining us. As Jesus put it, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love.” (John 15:9 KJ2000)
      I love you, my brother!

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  4. Scarlett says:

    This is a very interesting conversation and topic. I appreciated Susanne’s comment. It makes perfect sense. We are creatures born in the image of the Most High God and as such are comprised of both spirit, soul and body. The LORD has granted us the five natural senses, and we can develop, through spiritual growth to have five spiritual senses as well. I have experienced this to a somewhat limited degree.
    As for the mind, thoughts, intellect and emotions; in the carnal nature, humans are invariably geared to “leaning to their own understanding”; whereas, when we allow the Wisdom of the Universe, The LORD GOD, to have access to our minds and spirits, there is a godly wisdom that unfolds, in whatever measure we are able to not only desire, but obey that heavenly directive. After all, isn’t that how the prophets were guided, supernaturally, to be moved by the Holy Spirit to write down the very thoughts and wisdom of God for posterity?
    Oh to have the “mind of Christ” directing and having full sway in our thought processes; how different our walks would be. To bring every thought into the obedience of Christ, casting down (our own), imaginations, and everything that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God! To be bold enough to loose the grip of our human emotions enough to dare enter that spiritual realm in heavenly places with JESUS, our LORD. To let Him fully live in us and through us. to “see” things as He sees them. That’s a breathtaking aspiration when we think of it.

    Michael, your writing is indeed God inspired. I don’t think you fully realize how many of us are edified by your words. I pray you will continue to write often and boldly as the Spirit grants you unction…. and without fear.

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    • Michael says:

      Scarlett, thanks for your comment which touched me deeply. It is a lot of dying to self and a narrow path we walk when we set out to speak for God with the clarity of HIS inspiration. All too many today have latched on to those titles in the so-called “five-fold” ministries without dying to their old natural Adam within. It is one thing to desire the “heavenly directive,” but a whole other thine to obey it with our words and our deeds. There is no way around the personal cross that God uses to cleanse us of our flesh and make way for Christ to speak HIS mind in and through us. Yes, “To bring every thought into the obedience of Christ, casting down (our own) imaginations, and everything that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God!” THAT is the key!
      Scarlett, you are right, I don’t fully realize how many are edified by my writings. I guess His perfect love has not cast out the fear I have of missing it when I post a blog or a reply. I would rather have a Godly fear in me of offending one of His little ones than be like I used to be, thinking myself as “God’s man of the hour.” I find that those who have no fear of God also have no fear of doing damage to the Bride of Christ. Thanks dear sister for your wonderful prayers. I pray for His clarity in the things you write as well.
      Love you IN Him, Michael

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  5. kenneth dawson says:

    Your article about love is excellent and very timely–it went with a thought that I got out of a book I have been reading that is dealing with the subject of living a divine life-“A Study of New Nature Living”–Ian Thomas is quoted–“The devil does not mind if you are extroverted or introverted for he knows that in either case you will be focused on yourself and not with Christ.”–another quote comes from Andrew Murray–“Self is the root of all our troubles, a new life from above, the life of Christ must take the place of the self life, then we will function the way God wants us to be.”–then the author of the book says–“It is only as his fruit is borne that hostilities are stopped and his gentleness will then exude through our personalities.”

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    • Michael says:

      Kenneth,
      Thanks for those three great quotes about our journey from the carnal to the spiritual life in us. Murray nails it, we all need an exchanged life… the life of Christ for the life of that old Adam within. It must be HIS fruit that we bear, not ours, if His love is to prevail.

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  6. Agree says:

    This is interesting, indeed. I left “the church” some time ago. At first there seemed to be interest around me and some help from Christians who were also out of IC. However, this interest died out VERY quickly. As I was lonely in the IC, I am lonley now outside of the IC. There is no human love anywhere. Period.

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    • Michael says:

      Agree,

      I know what you are going through. I had been a church deacon and my wife was the secretary at the church. I stepped down from the position after half a term and quit going to the Sunday services because I did not agree with the way the pastor was taking the church or what went on in deacon meetings. My wife working in the church office and would hear almost daily, “How is Michael doing? Tell him we miss him.” To this she would answer, “Why don’t you call him up and tell him for yourself?” She was there in that office for another year and NOT ONE of those people ever called me.

      I also tried to make the house church thing work for a while, but I have found that most house church people are still I.C. in their thinking. Many, but not all, are just trying to build a smaller pyramid in the shadow of their former pyramid structures. It took God a few “magic tricks” and a couple of weeks to get the Hebrew people out of Egypt, but it took 40 years and a whole lot of killing and dying to get Egypt out of those people. I think that it takes about the same thing to get that I.C. mentality out of us as well. He put me through my own 14 year stint in the wilderness to get “Egypt” out of me. Paul said,

      “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:3-4 KJ2000)

      All men may have left you. But let Jesus be true who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you even to the end.” I had to go through this same thing as you so that I would quit putting my trust in men, but put my whole trust on Christ alone.

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  7. Becky says:

    I wish I could tell you all the various ways I needed this today. Thank you!

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  8. Kristina says:

    Thank you brother for sharing this. You know, in this process of dying to self and living and abiding in Christ, I’ve seen the ugliness of what I’ve been when I was supposedly a Christian..My goodness, I am ashamed of how unloving I’ve been over the years, but so thankful that my heart is being changed, not by my power but by Jesus. The Lord is revealing to me lately many areas of my heart that are still in need of healing. I used to resist such rebukes, but am learning to stop and talk to Jesus and our Father about this. It’s been amazing! At first I feel so ashamed of how unloving I just was, but with my whole heart, repenting, an amazing change in my inner being takes place..I’ve never experienced anything like it before..I’ve always been one to need to be in control so I’ve missed the opportunity to really connect with our Lord and let Him change me..I’m thankful that I am still here to actively pursue a relationship with Christ..I was in a denomination that taught works above anything else and I tell you, it totally robbed any joy I had in pursuing God. I never felt good enough, it was miserable. Coming out of IC was the greatest blessing in my life..I thank you and others out there caring enough to share your experiences which has greatly helped me pursue a real relationship with Christ, not pursuing which church I need to plug into to be accepted..
    Blessings to you all,
    Kristina

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    • Michael says:

      Dear Kristina,
      I know what you are talking about. At the time I thought I was “God’s man of the hour” was when He showed me just how proud and ugly I was to Him. It is amazing how deluded we can be when pride is our motivation. If we are willing to be honest with ourselves and with Him He will show us what we need to repent from. I had a great aunt that prayed this prayer almost every day, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”(Psalms 139:23-24 KJ2000). She was one of the sweetest women in our family.

      Yes, these churches that use the carrot and stick (dead works) method to control and motivate their people to build the storage cities of Pharaoh, “More bricks! More bricks! Get your own straw!” Like Moses, I think that more of God’s kids are desiring their freedom in following Christ more than to spending another day in the courts of Egypt eating from Pharaoh’s table. Yes, attending the I.C. (institutional church) for me finally became like beating my head against the wall… it felt so good when I quit! The further I get away from the voice of the hirelings and the thieves and robbers who lord over the flock of God, the easier it is to hear Jesus’ sweet voice.

      “But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers… My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:2-27 KJ2000)

      It is wonderful to hear about your wonderful progress IN Christ.
      His blessings and love to you, Kristina

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  9. bill says:

    Thanks dear brother Michael for asking such a stirring question.

    Do we really love?

    Until we come into a vital living union with Christ, Who is the embodiment of God’s perfect love, the answer is an emphatic NO! And it appears to me that this vital living union with Christ can come about only as much as He is revealed IN us. I believe one of the biggest things that plagues christendom is the believer’s relationship with a doctrinal, theological Christ; a Christ of the letter if you will, and not a relationship with the eternal Son of Man Who’s revealed in the heart by the Spirit.

    Only a true member of the Race of the Last Adam, the Second Man can truly love.

    May God be pleased to reveal IN us His Son, as He knows Him to BE, to the utter displacement of everything that is not.

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    • Michael says:

      Dear Bill,
      What a wonderful comment filled with the wisdom which comes down from above. It is obvious that the Son has been revealed in your heart. May God bless you, my brother, with love from all His saints and from some of the most unexpected places! It would be good to see you again. Know that you are always welcome at our house. If you plan on getting up to see Joanie and Luke again, let us know and we will try and meet you there, too.
      Love you a bunch,
      Michael and Dorothy

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  10. I’m indicted.

    The only way I can truly love others if I have no agendas of my own whatsoever. The only way that can happen is if I’m dying daily to what I think I want and what I think I need. That’s because regardless of whether my focus is want or need, that focus is still self-centered and not Christ centered.

    Take these statements for example. “I like my church.” “I need fellowship.” Both of these cater to something selfish inside of us, which without we seem to lack being content. We do need fellowship, that is not the problem, the issues is one of “awareness” (kind of like when Adam and Eve became aware of the fact that they were naked in the garden) What was the result? They immediately attempted to meet their own needs by clothing themselves- they acted independently of God and abandoned reliance upon His provision for them. This is what we do all the time. We think we know what we need but in reality those thoughts are our thoughts, not necessarily His.

    In Jesus, all of our needs our met, including our need to be loved. But until we allow that need to be met by Him, we will chase after one idol after another to fill what to us is a void, or worse, a lack of what we think God has withheld from us.

    True love must be Christ’s in and through us, I am not capable nor willing. But this I do know, you will know it when you see it. These saints alone really prefer their reward from heaven, rather than from the recipient of their love.

    Very though provoking Michael. Awesome comments as well.

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    • Michael says:

      Michael F., thanks for your great observation. This kind of self-for-others love is not natural to fallen man. Like you said, man became self-centered when they caved in to the temptation in the garden. “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:4-6 RSVA)

      When they became self-aware they hid themselves from God. But Jesus is our cure for the snake bite of self. John wrote, “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
      (1 John 3:21-24 RSVA)

      That we should believe in Jesus Christ and love one another… herein is our faith in God made manifest. People who say they believe, but do not have His love in them have not believed INTO Christ, but are still standing alone and separate from God for God is love. As Jesus put it, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (John 13:35 KJ2000)

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  11. Brenda says:

    Reblogged this on White Raiment.

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  12. Brenda says:

    Michael, I was just looking over your old posts to see what you had to say about loving the brethren. What I have observed, and am guilty of myself, is the tendency to elevate “correct” doctrine over love. Some of us will evaluate other believers to determine whether they “see” what we do, or find other faults and failings and then seek to correct them! This only leads to contention and separation :-(. I’m so thankful that the Lord has dealt with you in this area, so I can benefit from what you have already learned. The Lord is teaching me about loving the brethren, and working an enlargement of my heart, even today! Thank you, dear brother ♥.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Brenda, I want to thank you about for comment. What a blessing you are. You honor me with your response to my article. It is also my heart’s desire that we all might grow up into the heart of Jesus for all. I once thought I was God’s man who needed to straighten everyone out on their theology, but He straightened me out on that. It is the Holy Spirit who is the one who gives revelation to a person that changes them, not me. I have concluded that one who does teach in the body of Christ can really only provide a second witness to what God is already showing that person as I believe has happened in your case regarding my article. So I see myself not as a teacher (see 1 John 2:26-27 and Hebrews 5:11-14), but rather as one who confirms the saints that THEY CAN hear the voice of the Good Shepherd who leads them.
      Thank you, my dear sister!

      Liked by 2 people

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