Another Kind of Love
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12).
Most believers are fully aware of Christ’s commandment for His followers to love one another. We are even somewhat familiar with what this love can look like such as giving to those in need, going to other places to show and tell people about Jesus’ love, visiting the sick and lonely, and being there for those suffering or hurting. This is love, love in action.
But there is another kind of love. This love is not so much about going and doing or serving others in Christ’s name. It is more about who we are in Christ than in what we do for Him. While it may not be as easily detected as more active forms of love, the one who models this kind of love is a powerful witness to the way Christ loves us. What is this other kind of love?
I like to call this other kind of love, heart love, because it comes straight from the heart. It just happens naturally as we interact with others. This love – when we get it right – shows the same kind of gracious, forgiving, merciful love to others that Christ Himself shows to us. As we fully experience this fathomless love that we cannot begin to explain or understand – much less, contain, our lives become an expression of Christ’s love.
But this other kind of love is not something we can manufacture on our own. It is born out of our relationship with God. John explains: “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. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11). Sadly, we can be born again Christians, fully accepting Christ’s work on the cross to save us, and yet fail to enter into a life-changing relationship with Him.
How could this be? Primarily, because we accept what Christ offers, but fail to take the time to really get to know Him. When Christ told His disciples that He was returning to the Father, Thomas questioned: “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Christ responded: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7).In a true relationship we come to know one another. The Old Testament used the word know to denote the intimate relationship between a husband and wife. Knowing involves drawing near, spending time, learning, growing, and understanding. Knowing God involves these same things. It’s coming to know not just about Him, or even things He did. It is staying so close to Him that we look at things and feel about things just as He does.
When we enter into relationship and really come to know our Christ, heart love just happens. Jesus taught what this kind of love looks like.
- We love those who do not love us. We’re kind to those who hate us. We pray for those who use us and persecute us.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
- We let go of grudges and are quick to forgive those who commit wrongs against us – even when we may not feel that they deserve our forgiveness.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22).
- We deal graciously with others and avoid a constant spirit of fault-finding and criticism. Surely, we must be discerning of right and wrong, but judgment belongs to God, not us. Instead we stay close to Christ and allow Him to work in us convicting us of our own sin, and then seek to encourage and help others, not tear them down.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
Jesus also showed us what this kind of love looks like.
- He loved all people – from tax collectors and sinners to His closest disciples and friends. He accepted them as they were, but He never condoned their sin. He encouraged them to turn away from their sin and to sin no more.
- He was patient with His disciples when they were slow to understand and failed to grasp His mission. When they argued over greatness, He patiently explained how his kingdom differed from the kingdom of the world.
- He forgave and prayed for both His friends and enemies, even those who nailed Him to the cross.
My friend, Christ truly loves each one of us with this kind of love. Sometimes, the all-encompassing nature of Christ’s love for everyone overshadows the fact that He knows and loves each of us individually. He knows my social awkwardness and my quiet nature, and He loves me. He knows where I’m weak and when I choose to disobey, and He loves me. He knows my worries, my hurts, my desires; and He loves me. Although He knows every last thing about me – the good, the bad, and the ugly – He loves me! And He knows and loves you the same way.
One thing I’m really looking forward to when I get to heaven is seeing my Savior, but I can’t help but wonder how it will feel to look into the face of the One who did so much for me. When I think of how He loved me even when I failed Him or when I did the right things but for the wrong reasons, will I be able to look into His face which I so desperately want to see? I honestly feel that if I drop my head in shame that He’ll tenderly raise my chin with his nail-scarred hand and look into my eyes so that I can see His face of love. Then, as my tears spill forth, His Word declares: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). May such amazing love cause me to love others as I am loved so that they, too, may know another kind of love, the love that comes straight from the heart of God!