Summary: Much of what I’m going to talk about today comes more from experience as a counsellor than directly from Scripture, though I’ve discovered that the Bible talked about these things long before I observed them in the counselling office, and therefore is rea
Much of what I’m going to talk about today comes more from experience as a counsellor than directly from Scripture, though I’ve discovered that the Bible talked about these things long before I observed them in the counselling office, and therefore is really an excellent guide for everyday life. I hope to show this to you today.
Let’s begin with an illustration of Love.
Let’s say you had a child who kept getting in trouble, you kept bailing him out as a child, and eventually as he grew up even you couldn’t bail him out anymore, you had to let him go live his life the way he was choosing because nothing you or anyone else did could stop him.
Eventually, after he became an adult, he ended up murdering someone and getting a death sentence. The courts said he must die for what he did, that’s just the Law. The son swore up and down that he was innocent, but the jury convicted him because he did do it, and all the evidence showed he did it.
Now you knew that there were two places people went when they died. One place was for people who had been killed because of crimes they committed, and those people would never see their loved ones again after death. The other place was for those who had not received a death sentence for their crimes, and they would be reunited with their loved ones when they died.
Now this son had an identical twin brother who had never done anything wrong, he was a real good young man who loved his brother and you very deeply. Both sons also knew what you did about where people go when they die, so the good son came to you one day and said “Dad, I bet we could arrange it that during a visit, my brother and I could secretly swap places and the guards would never know.
Then I could die in his place, and because I had not actually committed a crime, maybe there’s a chance I’ll go to the place where I’ll see you again, and if my brother repents and doesn’t commit another crime that requires the death sentence, there might still be a chance that he’s with us when we’re all dead.”
You were stunned, and you loved both sons, but it didn’t seem fair that the good son should die and the other one gets released with no guarantee that he’ll change his ways. But you reluctantly allow this son to change places with the son who committed murder.
The good son was killed for his brother’s crime and the other son came home only to continue in his self-serving criminal lifestyle, showing no gratitude to you or his brother, and leaving you as soon as he had the chance.
He had another 20 years of life to try and change, but he didn’t care if he was with you or his brother after death, he just wanted to pursue his own passions and desires in this life, and eventually killed again, this time being executed for his crime.
You grieved that you had allowed your good son to be killed for nothing, and now had lost both of them, knowing you would never see the criminal son again, and hoping you would see the good son. But because of your love and the love of your son’s brother, you gave the criminal son a chance that unfortunately he never took.
That is the love of God. Giving all people who he created, a chance to be with Him forever by allowing his perfect son Jesus to be sacrificed, knowing that the people may not choose to be with him. He hopes that we’ll say, “wow they did that for me, maybe I do want to spend the rest of eternity with them, maybe I do want to honor them with a new life devoted to them”.
We talk about having faith, how about the faith that the Father and good son showed by taking that huge risk?
Real, authentic, spiritual, or agape love is radical, it’s not of this world, and therefore is rare and noticeable when seen in the world. People will see it as crazy. The reason Jesus is so strong about commanding us to love is because that kind of love is not in our human nature.
Human love is based on our own positive feelings toward someone or something, usually giving us something in return back. It’s self-centered, easy. Real spiritual love like Jesus is talking about is hard, often painful, different, and focuses on the positive feelings we give to others. This kind of love can only come from our spiritual nature. He said “this is love, that you lay down your life for another”.