Many of you have heard me say that to tell people that God loves them without showing that love is an incomplete message. Today I want to share with you what I have been hearing the voice of the Lord saying during the Pastor’s conference that I have been attending this weekend. Demonstrating the love of God is much more than a program or an event, although those things are not bad. However, demonstrating the love of God is supposed to be a lifestyle.
For me, this was made very clear as I was given the opportunity to express how much Terry and Carol Helseth have been a blessing in my life. As I stood up to share, I was overcome with deep emotions of gratitude and love to the point I became a blubbering mess. Yes I cried in a public restaurant with 20 of my fellow Pastors and their wives watching this public display of emotion! It was at this point that I was once again reminded that demonstrating the love of God has very little to do with programs as it does making it a part of your lifestyle.
Terry and Carol had demonstrated time and time again to the different people at that table the love of God. It was not a program or a plan for evangelism or outreach, it was their lifestyle. Although they are not done being servants or loving on people, their example is the example I want to follow and be known for when I come to the golden years of my life.
Demonstrating The Love Of God As A Lifestyle.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I find a lot of meaning in this scripture. You see it reveals the heart of God. Loving people is not a program or a duty. It flows from the heart. That is what made Terry and Carol so special. They didn’t have a program or an agenda to make sure people were loved. They just gave out of what was in their heart. It is the same way with God. God did not send Jesus as some type of program to gain worshippers. He sent Jesus because that was the response of love to people who He loved.
Demonstrating the love of God means understanding you are the one that is sent.
Jesus was sent by God. Just as Jesus was sent, you are also sent.
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
If we are to have a lifestyle that demonstrates the love of God then we need to understand that we are here to give that love to a world that may not understand or be receptive to that love. That is different than a program. A program puts sharing the love of God in a box. We do our “duty” or “outreach” and then go back to being something else. A lifestyle of love allows God to transform us from the inside out so that our natural reaction is to love people all the time. We are living, breathing vessels of the love of God.
God has sent you to be a vessel of His love to this world. Just as Jesus was sent to this world as a message of His love, so you are to be that type person to those around you.
Demonstrating the Love of God Means Living a Sacrificial Lifestyle.
As you know, Jesus died for us as the ultimate symbol of love. Loving people is not always easy. It takes risk. It takes giving of ourselves. It takes putting others ahead of ourselves.
Terry and Carol did that with me. When I made myself available to serve the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Pine Haven, part of that process was getting their input in the nomination process. They could have rejected me for various reasons. I was divorced. I had not been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I was not remarried so I didn’t have a pastor’s wife to serve along side of me. I was from a different denomination. Any of those reasons could have been enough to say no. Instead they understood that the love of God takes risks, it accepts people with past failures, it accepts those from other parts of the body of Christ, it knows God makes people whole in themselves and they can be used for the kingdom as a single person. So they put their reputation on the line and demonstrated the love of God to me.
What they didn’t know is that I had come to the end of my ability to continue hanging on to the promises of God. For 8 years I had been faithful to make myself available to serve. After being rejected for 3 years, I knew that this was a test of faith. I started saving the rejection letters I received as some sort of warped badge of honor. When Terry and Carol and the church council of the Vineyard here in Pine Haven said yes, I had received over 185 rejection letters from other churches. So you can imagine how much their willingness to say yes demonstrated the love of God to me. You now also understand why I became a blubbering mess when I started to share with them how much it meant to me. They sacrificed their reputation in order to show me the love of God.
You must receive the love of God before you can demonstrate it.
There is a piece of wisdom that fits in this situation. The way to be successful in life is to share with other people the things that you know. It is the same way concerning demonstrating the love of God. You need to receive that love before you can give it away. If you do it any other way then you are just mimicking rather than being authentic. So take a moment. Think back to all the times that you have had God demonstrate His love for you. If you need a reminder then I recommend that you read my article on the unfailing love of God. Then go out and start giving away what has been given to you. Make it your lifestyle. Make it part of who you are. The rewards will be something that is above all that you could hope or think.