Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
There is no one word that has occasioned more contention and strife through the centuries of the story of God's people than the word for love. Many have misunderstood; they suppose that the word "love" is weak sentimentalism. They want some solid works, not superficial emotion. Someone who wants to preach "love" can be accused of being shallow.
But we must walk softly here, and be careful; the problem is that God says that He Himself is "love" (1 John 4:8). And the last thing anyone wants to do is to despise God Himself! In order to understand, we must look at the original Greek word that is in the text that tells us what God is--it's agape.
It's the most powerful word in any language; it's the core word on which the vast universe of God's creation has been built. The Milky Way is held together by the idea that is in that word.
You and I as human individuals are nothing unless we are acquainted with that word: "Every one who loves [with agape] is born of God, and knows God." But, "He who does not love [with agape] does not know God." And here comes that blockbuster statement: "for God is agape" (1 John 4:7, 8).
Theologians can write their ponderous books, trying to explain it; but one can never understand what agape is until he "behold[s] the Lamb of God" (John 1:29) whose agape led Him to die the death of every person on earth.
"We see Jesus [with the eyes of faith], who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death" (Heb. 2:9). You and I have been "made" to live forever. He was "made" to die. You can't say that Christ merely went to sleep for "every man." The text says that "He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." That's not sleep! There is only one kind of death that Jesus could die "for every man" who has ever lived on earth: He died our second death.
You may face that ultimate truth today and let "the love of Christ" [His agape] "constrain" you to live "henceforth" (KJV) only unto Him. That will be the beginning of eternal life for you.
Here's how simple it is: "The love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).
Everything depends on the dimensions of that "love." Make them small and narrow, and your devotion will be small and narrow. It's that simple!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 11, 2008.
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