Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun (Radiance Christian Church), was originally posted on March 21, 2014.
Devotional Thought for Today
“Idol of Love—Really?”
1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
One common mistake that is made in the modern church is to make an idol of love. Instead of believing that God is love, we assume that love is God and just like the classic Beatles song, we fall into the trap of thinking that “all we need is love.” But we run into a problem here because there is a great difference between human love and spiritual love. Now, on the surface, human love seems more passionate, more sacrificial, and even more fervent in devotion. We see in many secular contexts, people who are willing to do anything for their friends and family; and not knowing any better, we applaud that and use it as the standard for Christian community. But we forget that there are many instances in the life of Christ, where he broke and fractured his relationships with certain people, even his own family. He didn’t stop loving them, but he refused to give into a non-spiritual form of love. The difference between these two types of love can be found in one main area of divergence: human love is always self-seeking, even when it seems to be about serving others.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer points out that “the goal of human love is to bind someone to itself, to gain and capture control so that nothing can come between it and the desired object not even truth.” The person who can only love through his flesh has little capacity to be objective, and that person is swayed completely by his desires. Spiritual love is always tempered by truth and sometimes can seem too objective. But when you look at the ultimate end of human love, there is a frightening sense to it because it lacks this objectivity, and it will stop at nothing to meet its end goal. Because of this characteristic, the major drawback of human love is that it is unstable and often temporary. It binds people together until it realizes that its selfish desires cannot be fulfilled; and there it turns into indifference, contempt, and even hatred. Spiritual love is always tempered and remains objective because it is always filtered through the person and work of Christ. As Bonhoeffer states so eloquently, “Christ stands between the lover and the others he loves.”
Prayer: Lord, we pray that our need to be loved and to love would be satisfied through You. May our love for one another be tempered by truth, but always as deep as the love You showed on the cross. Help us to love just as You have loved us. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 3:31-35: Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
Questions to Consider
- Why were Jesus’ mother and brother waiting for him outside?
- What were the crowd’s expectations?
- What did Jesus mean by his response?
- Mary and Jesus’ brothers wrongfully thought that Jesus had gone insane or was demonized, just as the Scribes accused him. They had come to either talk sense into him or to take him back home.
- The crowd expected that Jesus would act like a responsible son and go out to meet the members of his family.
- Jesus’ answer teaches that the kingdom of God changes human relationships. Those who oppose the progress of the kingdom, even if they are family, are given less priority; whereas, those who are part of the kingdom become a believer’s closest associates.
Are you growing in your love for other believers? Do you consider genuine fellowship to be an important part of your spiritual walk? Take time to intercede for someone in your church who may be in need of prayer.