An Identity Of Love (Romans 12:1-13:14)
Jesus tells His disciples to have faith, which is really telling them to remember who He is, so they remember who they are.
My friend and I were talking the other day about what love really is. He was saying how there are times that he just doesn’t feel love for his wife.
“Is love a feeling?”
Wow! What a question! As we continued our conversation we started to look at some Scripture. We looked at I John 4:8 which tells us, “…God is love.”
“That’s an interesting verse,” he said. “I always thought of love as something we do, but this literally says God is love. That’s different. What does that even mean?”
Another amazing question! As I was bombarded with his inquisitions I began to pray quietly to God asking Him to reveal His love to us in a way that we could grasp it with a broader perspective.
“God is love.” As we looked deeper into that we started to talk about how our actions flow from our being. In other words, what we do flows from who we are.
I asked him, “Why does a dog bark?”
He replied, “I don’t know. It might be afraid. It might have seen another dog. There are lots of reasons.”
I said, “Yeah, there are lots of reasons. But, what if the real reason a dog barked is simply because it’s a dog?” I mean, I get afraid, but I don’t bark. I see another dog and my first instinct isn’t to bark (most of the time).
Love then isn’t something God does. Love is who God is. He loves simply because He is love. And that is the way God created us. The Fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
There is a portion of Scripture where Jesus has been preaching all day (it’s found in Mark 4:35-41. You should read it, it’s pretty amazing!). In my words, ‘After a long day preaching Jesus tells His disciples, “Let’s get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake.” He’s exhausted, so He goes in the back of the boat to sleep. A little while later there’s a bit of wind and rain. Matthew starts to freak out. The fishermen of the group – Peter, James, John, and Andrew – tell Matthew to chill out. They’re fishermen. They’ve seen this their whole life. Then, things start to get really hairy. BOOM! Thunder and lightning crack! Now, the fishermen are afraid. They run to the back of the boat and frantically grab Jesus saying, “Jesus! Get up! We’re going to die!” Jesus gets up. Tells them to have faith, which is really telling them to remember who He is, so they remember who they are. He goes to the front of the boat and says, “Peace. Be still.” Immediately, the wind and the waves are silent and the lake is like glass.’
Jesus let what was within Him (peace), out of Him. In the same way, He calls us to let what, or more appropriately who, is within us, out of us. That’s why Jesus tells His disciples to have faith, which is really telling them to remember who He is, so they remember who they are.
Love isn’t what we do. It is who we are. Our identity comes from God. The issue is that if we aren’t spending time with Him reading Scripture, praying, meditating, listening, with other Christians, we will probably start to forget who He is. And, we will start forgetting who we are – who He’s created us to be.
We’ve all had friends who were intimately close to us, or maybe even a family member. And, for whatever reason we don’t see them for a long while. As close as we were to them at one time, eventually we start to forget what they look like. In the same way, if Jesus is life (John 14:6), and we stop spending time with Him, we will start to forget who He is. Then, we will start to forget who we are, and we will start to act in a way that dishonors God.
Doing flows from being. Being empowers doing. We do because we are. Just like that dog barking. It barks because it’s a dog. We love, because we are Christians, and God resides in us. God is love. Therefore, we love, because He is our identity.
In our passage this week in Romans 12 and 13, Paul writes about this great love that we are and have, because of Jesus our Lord. He starts in Romans 12:1 – “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” This is who we are. This is our lifestyle. When we are humble before God in submission and surrender we love.
Paul continues to talk about how being love results in doing love and what that looks like practically. In Romans 13:8-9 Paul writes, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for, he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.”
Love is who we are. Therefore, we love.
After I spoke all of this to my friend, he said, “Wow. I’ve been trying to do love instead of understanding that, as I spend time with God, I will become more like Him, and I will love.”
“I praise God for these moments and encourage all of you to love, and to spur one another on to love and good deeds.” -Hebrews 10:24