If we are to think about love today we may be drawn to think of the love of a parent for their child and vice-versa, a lover for their loved one, a carer looking after a partner or parent. Most of us are capable of loving those closest to us, but what does it mean to love others as we love ourselves or, more importantly, love others as God loves us? John, one of the first followers of Jesus, asks those he loves, his friends, to love as God loves in order to really see how God loves all:

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. 1 John 4:7-10 (The Message)

The relationship we experience with those closest to us helps us in the love we feel for them. It is equally important for us to seek a close relationship with God, through our prayers, attitude of heart, discipline of life, in order to fully live in the love of God. Loving this way is a choice we make. If we do not make the choice to love God’s way then the benefits of enjoying the closeness to God that brings cannot be expected. The love of God is best seen in the incarnate life of Jesus Christ and it is our choice whether or not to believe this is the best way to live. Living through Jesus means that we actively choose to adopt the attitude of life he displays in the Bible and actively seek the Holy Spirit in our lives to empower our lives with love. The sacrificial love of God seen in Jesus has created the template for how we are to view love. 1 Corinthians 13, famed for its use as Wedding material (and look out for it being read at Phil Archer’s Funeral on R4 ‘The Archers’ on Tuesday) tells us that godly love ‘makes no record of wrong’. How hard is that? We instinctively hold others to account and, even when they apologize, it is most likely that we forgive but don’t forget. When someone does us wrong it often affects our relationship with them irrevocably, but not God. We have all wronged God, without exception and repeatedly, but, when we choose to love as God loves, he has irradicates both the wrong and the consequence of that wrong restoring the intimate relationship we have, through grace, with him as a child of God.

Heavenly Father, when I look at Jesus help my heart to realize the love you have for me that took him to that place of suffering and death. Let the sacrificial love that flows out to all people through the cross of Christ be the power of God at work in my life. Let me take this example of selfless love and live it out in my life so that I might walk closer with you and be the living example of your love for all people today. Amen.