I would like to continue where I left off here about this ocean of God’s unfathomable love. Today, I would like to ask the question…
How do we know if we know God?
Is it by our profession of faith? Our knowledge of Scriptures? Our worship of Jesus? Our good works? Our spiritual gifts?
Actually, it’s none of those things.
Does that surprise you?
There’s a lot of things that we seem to think are important in the Christian faith. And we spend a lot of time and money trying to attain them.
But have we done the only thing that shows that actually know God?
Have we learned to love?
Yes, you read it right. This is the only thing that shows we know God.
For John tells us this in several places in his writings. Here are a couple of examples (bold-type added for emphasis).
“Beloved, let us love one another,
for love is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
He who does not love does not know God,
for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
“We know that we have passed from death to life,
because we love the brethren.
He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 John 3:14)
So, the way we know that we know God is by our love. Conversely, if we don’t love our brethren, we prove that we don’t know God.
Does that mean we’re not saved? I don’t think so.
We’re saved by grace through faith.
It’s just that we have proven we don’t know the God who saved us.
Whenever I teach about love, people always give me the affirming nod, but I can tell they are waiting for me to go on to the deeper things about God.
“Yeah, yeah, right…I get that. God is love, but…”
Actually, there is no “God is love, but…“, theologically speaking.
There is nothing deeper about God than love. To know God is to know love–that’s perfect theology.
Beloved, there’s nothing more to learn than to love…really.
Faith and hope are great, but love never fails and always abides, right?
Remember when Paul said that without love we have nothing and are nothing?
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned,
but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Cor.13:1-3)
Are you a “Spirit-filled person? Going to a vibrant Spirit-filled church? The sick are getting healed, demons cast out? That’s great. Do you have prophecies, glory clouds, visions of the Third Heaven? Awesome. Do you think having and defending correct doctrine is important? Cool. Are you all about social justice? Feeding the poor? Making the world “a better place?” That’s wonderful. Are you willing to die for your faith? Admirable.
But Without God’s love, spiritual power can blow people up.
Without God’s love, all our biblical knowledge and defending the “truth” becomes the source of combative spiritual pride and carnal divisiveness.
Without God’s love, social justice turns into nothing more than self-righteous works to make us feel significant, or worse, ease our guilt.
Without God’s love, our martyrdom is nothing more than religious zeal.
Without God’s unfailing love, we will fail.
How do we measure spiritual maturity?
What if spiritual maturity was not measured by our Bible knowledge, our training, our spiritual gifts, our willingness to serve, our zeal, our charisma, but was totally based on our ability to receive God’s love and give it away?
What if it was based on how well we’ve been able to enlarge our heart (open the “faucet” of our heart) to receive more of this unending ocean of God’s love living inside of us right now?
Do you understand that if we don’t know how to open our heart to receive His unconditional love, and give it away unconditionally, we can’t be trusted?
And unconditional love has no conditions, by the way.
What if the greatest feat of supernatural power that this world witnessed from us was how outrageously we loved and cared for one another?
What if they saw us celebrating our diversity without thinking we need to be divisive?
Jesus seemed to think that abiding in this same union of perfect love that He and Father have had from eternity would show the world God’s love for them, demonstrated by Jesus living through us.
“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 17:23)
And by seeing this fellowship of love overflowing out of us to one another…they would get it…and want it for themselves.
“By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Do you know why? Because, more than anything else, every human being on this planet longs to be loved.
They’ve just rarely ever seen the real thing.
Beloved, do you want to be effective for God? Learn how to love. And you can only do this by first receiving His love (1 John 4:19).
The Beatles were right. All we really do need is love.
Love, love, love…Whose love? God’s love! Yeah!