We know that the source of christian love is God and the beginning of christian love for us started when God created the first man and woman. The love Adam had for God was a true, perfect and clean love, as was his love towards Eve.
I can't help but wonder what it would be like to live in a world where people had this kind of love for one another. After all, this is what God intended when He created Adam and Eve, isn't it? It's very hard to understand what it should be like because when we destroyed our relationship with God we also destroyed our relationship with one another. Now we are left with a world full of people who are only capable of self love unless, that is, they are saved and converted by God and even then, due to our sin this new love that is planted in our hearts is just a vague impression compared to what it soon will be.
In his book 'Christian Love,' Hugh Binning begins by talking about God's creation of His world with unity and order and then goes on to say,
'Now, it is most reasonable to suppose that, by the law of creation, there was to be no less order and unity among men, the chiefest of the works of God. And so it was indeed: as God had moulded the rest of the world into a beautiful frame by the first stamp of His fingers, so He did engrave upon the hearts of men such a principle as might be a perpetual bond and tie to unite the sons of men together. This was nothing else but the law of love, the principle fundamental law of our creation - love to God, founded on our essential dependency on and subordination to God, and to man, grounded upon that communion and interest in one image of God.'
But things have changed so much that men's only love is turned inwards and it is only self serving. We turn everything towards ourselves and no one, least of all God, gets a look-in. God has to convert us and teach us how to love the right way, and at a high cost.
If God is love and we are made in His image then I think is it a very good starting point to base our christian lives on. It doesn't really matter how old we are as Christians, if we haven't got a proper understanding of what love is and who we should love, then nothing else that follows in our lives will grow to the potential that it otherwise should.
Let's consider 1 Corinthians 13:1-3,
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.
Just consider that list. Amazing! God is saying that the first thing to get right in our new lives as christians is love and if we don't get that right, well, everything we do that follows is, at the least, questionable. It seems to me that if we don't have a proper understanding of how to love God and our brethren properly then our motives for doing anything in the name of God is tainted. I suppose what I am trying to get at is that this is not only a fundamental doctrine but the fundamental doctrine and it is vital that we find out more about it and then do it.
Right now when I think of the scripture that tells me how decietful I am (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked - Jer 17:9), and then I think of the things I do for the Lord, I can't help but want to go back over my reasons for doing them and check if they were out of love for Him and the brethren or were the reasons tainted with sin.
Did I do stuff out of love or because it may have looked good in God's and the church's eyes.
Starting with myself first, I think it may not be a bad thing to examine ourselves and look back over some of the things we have done during our christian life and see with what intentions we did/do them. Here are some things coming to my mind...
If we go to the church services just to get fed, well that's wrong. We should go not only to learn and grow, to be helped and encouraged but also to worship God and love Him and His by ministering to other saints, not least our elders and their wives.
Do we go to visit other christians for our own edification or for theirs?
When I pray, is it mostly for me and mine, or do I consider others, above and beyond my own needs?
When I make life-changing decisions, are they based on me and mine only or am I taking my church family into real consideration?
Have I a decent knowledge of the Bible but don't share it with others. Do I encourage and help others to understand it and to get them through hard times?
Friend, it's real hard fighting against the old man and against putting ourselves first.
It's real hard putting God and His children first, before ourselves and not just making an outward show of it.
It's real hard crucifying ourselves for others who are in our immediate family let alone our church family but we are called to do that.
It's real hard to only see this current world/situation we are in and not look forward to a time when we won't have the choice to please God any more. This is a crucial and fantastic time when we have the choice and can say yes (or no) to God.
But I am very encouraged to know that God has supplied me with everything I need pertaining to my life and godliness (His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness - 2 Peter 1:3).
I am very encouraged to know that when I do these things and practice them that they become a part of my life and I tend to hold onto this world and the things in it a little less every time.
I am very encouraged to know that God is pleased with all my efforts to obey Him and He will help me, every step of the way, and I am very encouraged to think that rather than suck my church dry, I can give a little back and maybe even surprise myself and be a good example to others.