Summary: Are we ready to embrace ALL the consequences of God’s love being shed abroad into our hearts?
Note: the following article (in its original form) provoked a discussion on another site entitled, "Walk Away from Fundamentalism" (http://www.aimoo.com/forum/postview.cfm?id=319472&CategoryID=22217&ThreadID=528621). Part of this discussion, and my replies, are included below, following the article.
... the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given to us. ... But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, when we were still sinners and separate from God, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:5,8)
THIS is love -- not that we loved God, but rather that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved ones, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another as He loved us. (1 John 4:10-11)
Have you ever stopped to consider what it really means that God’s love is shed abroad in our hearts?
If this is really true, then we should love as God loves. But how did God show love? By sending His Son to die for sinners. God didn’t just permit His Son to go -- God prepared Jesus, trained Him, and taught Him that this was His crowning purpose in life. And when Jesus in human weakness was tempted to turn back, His Father urged Him on.
The logic of the Scriptures is clear and unescapable. If we have the love of God, then we should love as God loves, in deed and in truth. We should be imitators of God, act as He acted, and parent as He parented. But do we have the ambition to see our own children give up their lives for the faith? Do we instill in them (and model for them) the zeal and willingness to shed their own blood for His sake? Do we prepare them mentally and practically for the possibility of future martyrdom? Do we actively urge them on, as God did with His own child?
If not -- then do we really have the love of God in our hearts?
Of course we will try to make excuses. Here are some I’ve used myself.
Excuse #1:"Christ already died for our sins -- so we and our children don’t need to suffer or die for the sake of the Gospel."
But Christ died for the very purpose that we might also be energized and inspired to lay our lives down for the Gospel. In 2 Cor 1:5 Paul says, "The sufferings of Christ abound in us". In Colossians 1:24 he says, "I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church."
Excuse #2: "We are only God’s little infants. He would not want us to undergo such a difficult and painful trial as to lose a child".
The apostle Paul says, "In regard to evil be children, but in your thinking be adults" (1 Cor. 14:20). Maturity in Christ is a matter of our own choice. We may choose to remain as infants, living for pleasure in the here and now: or we may choose to follow Jesus’ path and embrace hardship, loss, and sacrifice for the sake of a future, greater reward (Heb. 11:35).
If the nascent love of God within us is to grow to full and rich maturity, we must do the things we see God doing, just as Jesus did. ( Jn 5:19).
Excuse #3: "My child is too precious to me. Why should I allow or encourage her/him to put her/his life at risk?"
Was God’s Son any less precious to Him?
Excuse #4: "But God knew He would receive His Son back again. If my child dies, he is gone!"
This response reveals that the root problem is not the difficulty of the sacrifice, but rather our own lack of faith. For we will reunite with our children, together with scores of eternal brothers and sisters who will entered God’s kingdom over the bridge formed by those who have laid down their lives for Jesus’ sake.
Excuse #5: "1 John says that we are to love one another as God loved us. So we should love other Christians in a self-giving way, but not throw our lives away on hostile unbelievers."
When John speaks of ’one another’, is he referring only to those who already believe? Did we already believe when He showed His love to us? God saw us as His own children temporarily estranged from Him, and in His great yearning to restore us to wholeness braved our insane, childish rage and deliberately made the ultimate personal sacrifice.
Though we cannot escape the logic of the Scriptures, we are still unwilling to embrace the inevitable consequences. The inescapable conclusion is that we do not actually possess the fullness of the love of God in our hearts. We do not yearn for the lost and dying of other nations as for our very own flesh-and-blood brothers and sisters. We do not recognize that their spiritual death is infinitely more terrible than our own physical death, or the death of our loved ones.