Love Defined by the Cross

Right now it’s pretty fun to be a Braves fan. They are number one in the National League with seventy six wins. Rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. won rookie of the month for August with the help of his thrilling and consistent home runs. And let’s just say in their new stadium with a zip line, rock wall and carnival games, it’s a good year to be chopping.

I love the Braves. As I keep watching, seeing the highlights, following stats, I’m enjoying the benefits of being a Braves fan. The more I watch, the more I understand how the team works and the more I appreciate them. When I go to a game, investing in time, money and frozen lemonade, you bet I’m staying until the ninth or tenth or eleventh inning to get the most out of my experience.

Maybe you aren’t a fan of the Braves. Maybe you’re a fan of Riverdale, or Twenty One Pilots or The Bachelor. And you love it. You know all the characters, can sing the lyrics to every song. You tell your friends to watch it too, to download the newest album, binge watch it – it’s only four seasons, forget about your 8am class – because it’s that good.

What if we responded that way to God?

You might say there’s a difference to getting hype on This Is Us verses the Letter to the Romans.  Yet in This Is Us a father sacrifices his life for the joy of his daughter, and Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us, while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” It’s so easy to get excited and passionate about things we understand, but if we aren’t excited for Jesus do we really understand Him? His sacrifice, the eternal love of a Father?

The more we understand God’s love for us, the more we fall in love with Him.

Ephesians 3:19 is a prayer for us as people to comprehend the length and height and depth of His love, so we can be filled with the fullness of God. What a beautiful prayer – and how glorious when it comes true! In the healing of the woman with issues of bleeding, Jesus restores not just her body, but her status in society. She is called daughter and in His love, made new.

In the transformation of Saul to Paul, we see another example of God’s abundant love. He calls a man out of condemnation and brings him into salvation. God knows the transformation and the healing in his heart that others can’t yet comprehend. When Ananias is asked to go to Saul and heal him, he is confused. He doesn’t see the goodness in Paul, he only sees the faults in Saul.

It’s not God’s love for us that grows, it’s our understanding of it.

When Ananias understands God’s grace and love extended to Saul, Ananias becomes a better vessel for Christ. He is a part of the healing and witness to the beginning of one of the greatest evangelists.

Do you speak to others in a way that honors them as a child of God? Do you see them for what they’ve done or for who God made them to be? Christ died while we were still sinners. While we are still sinners.

There are very few people who I dislike. But this past weekend I had to encounter one of them, and I instantly felt my heart harden. I also knew in that moment I had to forgive them.  Despite my efforts to be polite, I may not have responded very well in the moment. But now as I’m seeing them as a hurting person in this fallen world, in knowing that they too are loved as I’m loved, I’m praying for their healing. Which doesn’t mean that I wish to continually be in their presence, but that I’m seeing them in a light that perhaps my heavenly Father sees them in as well.

Sometimes I go on Jesus dates. I get me, some chocolate, a pretty view and invite Jesus into that time. Sometimes I read the Bible, sometimes I talk, sometimes I listen, and sometimes I let myself be treated by whatever Jesus has in store for that afternoon. For if I can fall more in love with Christ by understanding His love better, then I want to revel in that. If knowing His love makes me love others in a way that is beautiful and different than the world, I want to pursue that too.

Take a moment to understand His love, His sacrifice at the cross. What does His love free you from, what does His love free you to do? Who are you daring to love well this week because of how Christ chooses to love you?

 

Brittney Schwind
9.6.2018

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