GOD IS LOVE
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
// 1 John 4:16-18
92 days of devotion. What a feat! It’s so beautiful that we have committed to worshiping Jesus together as a church for the past two summers; these last three months have been a time where we refocus our affection, desire and worship upon the one who truly deserves it. With so many distractions and things demanding our attention, it’s not easy to truly fix our eyes upon Christ. However, I have come to realize how bizarre it is and revealing about my fallen human nature that I find it difficult to rely on and fully trust God. It should be the most natural thing in my life to rely on Him.
John, the beloved apostle made of the same flesh as us, says these powerful words: “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” I don’t know about you, but it has definitely been a journey of coming to know, rely on and believe in the love that Jesus has for me. These last 92 days of learning from others, pastoring people, hearing their struggles and knowing my own struggles have taught me that I cannot rely on my own love for God. In fact, God is not asking me to rely on my affection or worship of Him. John makes a clear declaration of who God is, inspired by the Spirit of God Himself: “God is Love.” Do I believe in my heart of hearts that God is love? I have realized that God is still showing me how much He loves me, and that I don’t need to rely on my own love or the loves of this world to satisfy the desires of my heart.
My worship or idolatry point to whether I believe God is love. My giving in or resistance to temptation show whether I rely on God’s love. My boldness or fear towards life reveal whether I know God is love.
Do I know this love, and do I live in this love? John is talking about an assurance of our salvation, putting aside our human effort to make ourselves right before God and truly accept the fullness of Christ. To live – not just know – this love. Rest is connected to our surrender to God’s love for us. If you live in the reality that God is love, why do you run after substance, image, people, money, status, idols, fame? Why do we run from people, why do we isolate, why do we exclude, why do we gossip, why do we manipulate, why do we put down, why do we doubt, why do we lie, why do we think we are right, why do we know it all…why do we, why do we, why do we…? The list goes on.
When we stop – when we acknowledge that we run after all the wrong things, or run away from all the right things, and turn to see who God is and has always been – we begin to know and rely on the love God has for us. When we see how beautiful Jesus Christ is, when we see how majestic He is, how glorious, how wondrous, how big, how detailed He is, how in control, how perfect, how mighty, how wise, how gracious, how merciful, how knowing He is, how kind, how faithful, how protective He is, how for us He is…the list goes on and on and on. Maybe, just maybe, we begin to realize that the love we are looking for, He is. God is love.
I have tried to be devoted to Christ for 92 days and I pray you have as well. But what I have come to learn, and what I want to continue to know and rely on, is that He has been devoted to me since before time began. Before I ever wrote a devotion for Temple Project, before I uttered a word in prayer, before I preached a message about His love, before I gave in to a false love, before I turned away from Him, before I turned back to Him, before I helped someone, before I pastored anyone, He has been and always will be devoted to me. This is what keeps me going. This is why I love the church, and why I pastor – not to prove my love, but because God loves me.
God is love and in love there is no fear. This perfect love is what I want; my heart longs for something more. I have tasted of this world and it has left me wanting and waiting, broken and alone, but God’s love has healed me, restored me, regenerated me, reformed me, and continues to transform me. My prayer is that we would come to rely on, trust, hope, and believe not in the love of this world, but in God, the person of Jesus Christ, for love is not an emotion or a fleeting romance but a person. Jesus Christ is love and we know this by who He is and what He has done on the cross.
May we continue to be devoted to Him for the next 92 days and the next 92 days after that, and as long as we have breath in our lungs may He be the focus, our devotion and our center by giving in to His devotion to us. May we die to all other loves and awaken to Him. May we live and move and have our being in this love. May our eyes ever be upon Him, may our lips ever be praising Him, may our minds ever be fixed upon Him, may our souls ever be satisfied by Him, may our hands and feet ever be serving Him, may our hearts ever be beating for Him and out of this place may we ever be devoted to Him.
Let this be the heart and cry of C3 Brooklyn. He is our vision, and may the vision of who He is turn our eyes upon loving our neighbor, the stranger and our enemy the way He loves us. Let New York City be overwhelmed by a people who have come to know and rely on the love that God has for us, because we know God is love. We love because He first loved us. We have found what we are looking for; we have ascended the hill and we have found a King that would die for you and I. God is love. This changes everything.
// Pastor Josh Kelsey