• Where Is Love?
Where is Love
Outreach Letters

Where is Love

  • Where Is Love?

Where Is Love?

When God made man, he had but one motive – love. That motive has never changed. It sent Jesus to earth and ultimately to the cross. It remains, to this day, the driving force behind God’s Spirit as he moves across the earth and upon the lives of men.

The most basic definition we have of God is the one given by the apostle John. It is also the most potent: God is love. Love is the very essence of His being. It inevitably dictates all He says and does, simply because it is what He is.

The God of love, who is Love, constantly seeks to win people to Himself. He longs to gather them, to speak to them, to give Himself to them. Yet what do those who benefit from His love do? So often they distort it all by repeating an age-old apostasy. They create religious systems. They build institutions and ‘spiritual empires’ which bear His name but are devoid of His love.

A harsh judgement? Not really, even if it seems like it to those who have been conditioned to accept the unacceptable. And sadly, there are many such people.

From the day he submitted Himself to John for baptism until the last agonising words He uttered from the cross, Jesus’ ministry had but one motivation: love and love alone. He loved His father and He loved His people. He had no ulterior motives. He had nothing to prove. He coveted nobody’s money (compare His ‘give it to the poor’ with the oft-spoken TV evangelist’s ‘give it to my ministry’). He established no institutions. He shunned publicity. Above all, He literally laid down His life for His sheep. – He could do no less, because He loved.

Let today’s ‘Bible-believing’ ministers and Christian leaders square themselves up with that. After all, doesn’t the Bible say we are to walk as Jesus Himself walked? We are supposed to have the same attitude, the same priorities and the same motivation as the one we claim to represent – otherwise we misrepresent Him.

Jesus came, not to be a unique one-of-a-kind, but to be ‘the first-born of a new creation’. He was and is all that we are called to be. No man can truly represent Jesus unless he is motivated by the same driving force which motivated Him. And that’s the sticking point.

Not that it’s unattainable. Far from it. More to the point, many find it unpalatable. For loving means giving yourself. It means laying down your life, and it is graphically illustrated by Jesus’ example of the seed which bears no fruit until it falls into the ground and dies. Seek to preserve yourself – make your own well-being and survival the bottom line – and you cannot bear Godly fruit.

It is impossible for anyone to represent the God who is Love while self-interest and self-preservation remain at the heart of their motivation.

It is precisely because so much of today’s Christianity exhibits such abundant evidence of self-interest and indulgence, that it is also loveless Christianity. And lovelessness is the opposite of Godliness. Where Love is not, God is not.

Not that there is any lack of the word ‘love’ in Christian speech, song and print. Only that love itself is largely absent. As God once said: ‘This people honour Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me’.

Christians are taught by self-seeking preachers that God exists for their personal benefit (because the preachers are motivated by self-interest they naturally assume others will be too). Even when it comes to giving of any kind, it is presented as merely another means of getting (‘give and it shall be given unto you’). The last thing a self-interested preacher is going to do is give of himself. How, then, can he lead others along the Godly path of love?

Where is the preacher, the pastor, the evangelist (especially of the TV variety) who truly loves those he ministers to? Many of them don’t even know their people! Where is the man who loves individuals for their own sake, as Jesus did? I don’t mean the manipulative ‘love’ which oozes from every pore and is deliberately and cynically aimed at extracting support and/or money. And I don’t mean the so-called love which elicits responses so as to use them for endorsement and self-promotion.

Jesus built His ministry on love – not on testimonies. Love has nothing to do with enlarging the size, influence or profile of a ministry or organisation.

There is nothing slick or sophisticated about love. It has nothing to do with corporate efficiency or impressive statistics. It has nothing to do with ‘success’. It has everything to do with truth and selflessness.

Not all who claim to be men of God represent God. No man has a divine mandate to distort or alter God’s way – no matter how impressive the man, how appealing his presentation or how powerful his ministry. Look at his heart (that’s where God looks) and don’t be dazzled by his words, actions, ‘spirituality’ or knowledge. A man can produce impressive results but it is his fruit which demonstrates both the quality of his heart and his acceptability before God.

The people of Jesus’ day were awed by the ‘men of God’ who ministered to them, but Jesus scathingly condemned those same men with a vehemence which drove them to plot His death. He exposed their spiritual bankruptcy, their avarice and self-interest. He revealed their true motives and showed how devoid they were of love.

Look around you at today’s Christianity. Look and listen. Not much has changed.

Love is much more than mere words, it is paying the price. It is giving yourself wholeheartedly and totally – without counting the cost or drawing the line. Those who ‘love’ in word only would do better to shut their mouths, for their own words will one day be their condemnation.

God is love and He judges harshly those who abuse His love, just as He judges those who misuse His name. There are many today who minister in the name of Jesus – caressing people with warm words, while repelling God with their cold hearts. How much they have to answer for!

If the sheep have a true shepherd – one who lays down His life for them – they dwell securely. They know they are loved. If, on the other hand, their ‘shepherd’ is no more than a self-interested hireling, they can never rest nor feel secure. And with justification, for they know that when a wolf comes along the hire-ling will do everything to save his skin and care nothing for theirs.

Many of God’s people intuitively know that those who minister to them are mere hirelings – men who offer ‘blessings’ but not the security of being loved. Through their ministry they serve neither God nor His people, but themselves – Like Judas they have their price and can thus be bought. They watch, not over God’s people, but over their own future and well-being. They exist neither for God’s glory nor for the welfare of His people. Such men will never be found risking themselves for the sake of others.

Hirelings, though, are often very accomplished performers. They are very good at saying and doing everything that is normally associated with true men of God. Like all actors, their future depends on a convincing performance. Yet they love neither God nor men, but only themselves. They use God’s name, His word and His people for their own ends. While ‘loving’ in word they do not love in deed and truth.

This bankruptcy, this vast absence of Godly love, is all the more tragic because it is largely ignored within the Church. And if not ignored it is often denied. There are, after all, ways around it – or so it seems. Spiritual gifts, miracles, programs, results and statistics can all form an impressive smokescreen to effectively obscure the awful truth.

The Corinthian Church tried that and received Paul’s scathing words: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I gain nothing.’

Without love (the giving of yourself, remember?) all else is worthless and meaningless. Gifts of God they may be, miraculous beyond doubt, yet meaningless without the love which is supposed to motivate everything that is done in the name of Jesus.

When Jesus gave the Revelation to the apostle John, He also gave him messages for seven specific churches. One of those, the church in Ephesus, had many credits to its name. He acknowledged its hard work and perseverance, its intolerance of wicked men and false apostles and its endurance in the midst of hardship. ‘Yet’, said he, ‘I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place’.

Because it had departed from love that powerful, effective, impressive church, had forsaken its heritage and was in danger of being snuffed out by Jesus himself. It had no right to shine for Him unless it loved like Him. Though acknowledging its works and perseverance He refused to tolerate its lack of love. That lack nullified all other achievements and threatened that church’s very existence. Jesus has no less tolerance for the deplorable lack of love in His Church today.

Already we see judgement descending upon ‘the House of God’, just as He said it would. Christian ministers and their ‘mighty works’ are being brought low by their enemies, but not because those enemies have suddenly increased in power. Rather it is because God is doing once again what He has done many times before: He is delivering those who claim His name but have forsaken His way, into the hands of their adversaries.

God’s word and God’s way are clear – crystal clear. His word is LOVE and His way Is LOVE. For HE IS LOVE.