So yesterday I took a hiatus from writing for the day… I had an appointment with a specialist re: my back. I’ve been on a waiting list for about eighteen months now! I will likely blog about that on Wednesday with some updates, but as a result, it took much of my day yesterday, with the long wait times, so I decided I would take an unofficial vacation day, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with my husband, who also took the day off work to come to my appointment with me.

So I’m catching up today. I am blogging today what I was supposed to write about yesterday…God’s unconditional love, and what that involves. I will be quoting myself from something I wrote over 2 years ago when I first began to have a revelation of why the ‘good news’ that is talked about in the new testament is such ‘good news!’ I have been in church my whole life and didn’t quite understand how to grasp the message of grace. I admit, I am still a work in progress at understanding this important principle. The revelations I am about to share became the ‘Aha!’ moment of discovering the content of the book I am writing, called “Found Wanting”.

Here is what I came to understand:

“no one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

“And we have come to know and have believed the love which aged has for us. God IS love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

“By this, love is perfected in us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

So let’s begin to unpack the above verses a little. Let’s start by getting a fuller understanding from the original Greek that the new testament was written in, and translate more fully the words “abide”, “judgment”, and “punishment” from the passages I just quoted.

Meno- to remain, to dwell, abide, to persevere, to stand firm, to remain alive, to wait for, to remain under, be patient, patient towards things and circumstances, long suffering, or patience toward people.

Krisis- judgment, a separation, judgment, final sentence, the final judgment, to pass judgment, judgment of condemnation, the cause or ground of condemnation or punishment.

Kolasis- punishment, to punish, torment.

Now part of this good news of the gospel of grace that Jesus spoke of involves this:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ.” Romans 8:1

What does condemnation mean?

Katakrima, condemnation – to divide, to separate, judge, to be decided against anyone, a condemnatory judgment.

When we love one another, which we will define soon), God abides in us and He perfects love in us (for Him and each other). Two verses come to mind that I will briefly reference concerning the love for God and each other.”love the lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” and “Love if the fulfillment of the law.” When we abide in God’s love, loving each other, and Him, God not only abides in us, but this is HOW love is perfected in us. Why does it matter if this love abides in us? Because it gives us confidence in the day of judgment. God’s love casts out the fear of judgment and punishment. Why? Because Jesus Christ took our punishment on Himself, therefore we are no longer condemned. There is now NO condemnation (the result of judgment) for those who are abiding in Christ. If I am IN Christ Jesus, I am abiding IN him.

Jesus uses an analogy that says of himself that He is the vine and His father is the gardener. He goes on to say:

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it so that it may bear fruit…Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned.”

This last verse deals with the consequences of not abiding in the vine. The life that comes from abiding is not there and the branch dries up and dies.

Jesus goes on to say, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you. By this is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. Just as the Father has loved you, I have also loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy be in you and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:7-14

Those of you reading this that do not yet understand the love of God may read the above passages by suggesting that God is a demanding, punitive God, who punishes those who don’t abide in Him, and that he commands obedience, without question. Yet, we forget, this same God created each one of us with free will to make up our own minds. He does not dictate that we MUST follow Him, for he knows that love cannot exist in an environment of force, so instead, he places himself in a vulnerable position, the God who loves us and longs for our love in return, humbly gives us free choice to reject and neglect him and to NOT love him. He is communicating here, merely that abundant, full life comes only by abiding in his love, because only his love is perfect. How well we see this modeled in our lives. When we carry resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness in our hearts, it acts as a poison that kills and destroys our ability to dwell in absolute love. When we have been hurt by other’s imperfect love, and we dwell in fear of being harmed again, we still wrestle with understanding the love that comes from abiding in God’s love, which heals, and enables us to rise above our own human nature that wants to stay wounded, angry and justified to judge and punish those we’ve been burned by, and instead, rise above that, and sit comfortably, resting in the knowledge that God’s love is perfect and does not fail, will not damage our self-esteem, and instead, heals us, enabling us to then love others as he does, because if we are loved perfectly, then love heals us to love more perfectly than we can on our own.

Abiding in perfect love (God) keeps punishment and the consequences of punishment away from us. Because God’s love casts out the fear of punishment. The hint of why perfect love casts out fear of punishment is in this verse: “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid his life down for us, taking our punishment on himself.

“We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our friends. For whoever has the world’s good and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him? Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18

“Since you have in obedience to the truth, purified your souls for a sincere love for each other, fervently, (deeply) love one another from the heart, for you have been born again, not of seed which perishes, but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding Word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22,23.
(in this reference, the ‘word of God’ here, is not referring to the new testament as it was not yet written. Jesus himself often references himself as ‘The Word of God’. So again we see that concept of abiding in Jesus for a freedom we have not yet unpacked.)

So what does this love look like? How do we lay down our lives for others?

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of other’s. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:1-13

Stay tuned next week Monday, for part 2 of this blog. I really thought I would have enough time to get it all in today… But there is so much to say of, and learn of the love of God, to really begin to appropriate it, yet alone understand, take in and receive. His love is so massive, it truly is inconceivable. Almost too hard to believe, too good to be true… And yet it is. He loves us and pursues us like none other, and His love for us never fails, never ends, never quits. His love is big enough to even let us walk away from him if we don’t want to receive his love. It breaks his heart, but he respects our free will. And he will not break that promise!

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