No Greater Love
Looking out my patio door window, I beheld sparrows feasting on birdseed I had put out for them the previous day. Watching these curious creatures gobble up my gift to them was calming.
But the mood changed as one sparrow looked up and noticed me standing there watching. Overtaken by fear, it flew away. The others followed, leaving me with feelings of disappointment.
Though I meant them no harm, they didn’t know I wasn’t a threat. To them, I didn’t fit in. I was different.
Was God trying to tell me something?
In speaking of God’s love, Jesus said, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45).
I find assurance in Jesus’ words. His words tell me that God allows each to make the best of their lives, whether good or bad.
God provides us with air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and shelter for safety and warmth. God’s hands are always at work in our lives; His gifts are ever-present to show the world He cares.
And all He asks of us is that we love Him with all our heart (Deut. 6:5).
But like fearful sparrows rushing away from an unfamiliar face, many flee from the face of God. And thus, they remain unacquainted with His love.
God knocks at the door of humanity’s heart, desiring to come in and make all things new (2Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5). But more often than not, the door remains shut.
The door stays closed because people fear change. They’re comfortable with what they have and want no one to come in and make things different.
The Bible tells us that Jesus “was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1:10-11).
Imagine pouring your whole life into the pursuit of saving people from destruction. You want nothing but the best for them.
Nothing the world offers can compete with what you are offering them. They don’t even have to work for it. They need only to receive your gift to them.
You have treated them with unconditional love and unwavering kindness. Instead of being grateful that you are there, they treat you like an enemy and shun you.
They don’t want you because you are different.
Jesus was different. People laughed at Him because He was different (Lk. 8:53). They mocked Him because He was different (Matt. 27:27-31).
They lied about Him because He was different (John 8:48). He was struck and bound because He was different (Jn. 18:19-24).
They wanted to destroy Him because He was different (Matt. 12:14). He was hated because He was different (Jn. 15:18-25).
Jesus’ accusers should have opened their doors wide to Him. They should have welcomed His message into their lives as one would embrace a best friend. Instead, they hurled insults at Him and relentlessly questioned His motives.
Once, they even drove Him out of town and attempted to throw Him off the edge of a cliff (Lk. 4:16-30). All because His words and actions did not fit the mold of their worldview and definition of God. All because He was different.
As cold-hearted and cruel as Jesus’ enemies were, His love for them did not falter. No measure of hatred could break His spirit. Evil could not silence the symphony of Jesus’ love.
No doubt some were there at the cross who shouted, “Crucify Him!” the day of His trial, looking upon His sufferings with satisfaction as He was in agony dying.
These people deserved a rebuke. Yet, Jesus did not utter one careless word to them. He didn’t give them what they deserved.
Instead, Jesus looked upon them with pity. He didn’t see angry faces He wished to condemn, but broken people He desired to save and prepare a place for in heaven (Ps. 147:3; Jn. 14:2).
He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34).
Jesus was different. Never was there a place without love where Jesus stood; never a word spoken by Him that did not come from a heart full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).
Nothing could keep the Son of God from magnifying His Father’s love—not even death. And nothing can stop Him from loving you (Rom. 8:35-39).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
Do you know Jesus?
A popular Youtuber was out hiking in San Francisco, looking for opportunities to interview random people. He encountered a young woman traveling from state to state.
He asked the traveler what her thoughts were on what she had noticed about people in general throughout her journey.
In summary, she talked about how she believed the news is full of propaganda and that the more people consume it, the more fearful they are becoming.”
I agree. But I see something else happening. Prophecy unfolding!
Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12).
It’s not only fear breaking into people’s hearts, but violent thoughts, greed, and hatred are becoming rampant. More and more, people are becoming suspicious of others’ motives, paranoid, and cold-hearted.
Many people are in grave danger and don’t know it because they refuse to heed God’s warnings.
Make no mistake, it’s not just unbelievers fulfilling this prophecy, but people who make a profession of faith in Jesus are also guilty of becoming cold and uncaring.
The good news is there are still people out there whose hearts are not bending towards evil (Rev. 14:12).
Their flame has not gone out but continues to burn bright for all to see. Their thoughts are with God every step of the way. They are on the narrow path leading to life.
They are in the world, but not of the world. They are different! Like Jesus!
Following Jesus’ Example
The tragedy is that many people who profess to have faith in Jesus show greater acceptance of what is politically correct than for what is lawful according to God’s word.
They are afraid to stand up for the truth—afraid of offending the opposition and being hated. Thus, they hold on to the world, thinking it’s Jesus in their arms. He should be in their hearts; but instead, He is knocking at their door.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7:21-23).
Notice how these people are certain they are serving Jesus, Yet, they are unaware that they don’t know Him.
Do you think you might be one of these people?
Don’t be quick to dismiss the thought. Rather, be diligent in examining your heart in the light of the Scriptures (2Tim. 2:15; Prov. 3:5-7).
Read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which reveal the character of Jesus, and ask yourself if you are truly following His example (1 Jn.2:6).
Are you striving to be like Jesus? If so, what are you doing to let the world know it?
Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Are you keeping His commandments?
Can people see your love for Jesus? Indeed, you are in the world, but are you different from it?
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35).
When people see your works and hear your words, do they see Jesus in you? Do they see that Jesus is the master of your life?
Is Jesus in your heart or is He knocking at your door?
How do you behave towards strangers? Are you married? How do you treat your husband or wife? How do you respond to conflict? Do you have children? How patient are you with them? How forgiving are you of their mistakes?
How do you respond to unkind people? How do you treat the people you work with? Are you an employer, supervisor, or manager? How do you treat the people who work for you or under your authority? How quick are you to respond to people who need help? How often do you pray for others?
Do you pray for your enemies? Are you following the example of Jesus, or are you convinced you are serving Him when you’re serving a different master?
I find it interesting that the word ‘many’ appears in Matthew 7:21-23 about fake Christians. That same word appears in Matthew 24:12, where Jesus talked about many hearts growing cold in the last days.
No doubt there is a correlation!
The relationship these people think they have with Jesus is not real. They do not have Jesus’ love in them. They are different. Different from Jesus but much like the world.
The Bible says, “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:4).
The word ‘many’ suggests that most people making a profession of faith in Jesus are not on the right path. For where else do we find the word many within this context?
It can be seen in Matthew 7:13-14, where Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Are you among the many or the few?
The people who think they know Jesus but do not know Him are lost. They have no one to blame but themselves for it. God has not failed to show them what love is.
They have hardened their hearts against His love. They have attributed false meaning to it, making it look like a common thing instead of seeing it as holy and distinct from the world.
They say they believe in Jesus, but their hearts do not beat for Jesus. They bleed for the world’s acceptance but do not obey the voice of God who commands them to come out of the world (1 Pe. 1:13-16; Rev. 18:4; Heb. 3:12-15).
It’s not that they don’t read the Scriptures or that they don’t go to church or that they don’t pray, but that they haven’t learned how to read the character of Christ.
They hear Jesus’ words but walk away like the rich young ruler who wasn’t willing to leave his worldly possessions for Jesus (Matt. 10:17-22).
They refuse to surrender. They refuse to lay it all at the feet of Jesus. And thus, they do not love God with all their hearts.
And how do they justify this? They justify it by believing Jesus didn’t mean what He said, that He set a standard that is impossible to follow.
These people are self-deceived! Not only did Jesus mean what He said, it is possible to do as He commanded. Disbelief says it is impossible. But as Jesus said, “all things are possible with God” to those who believe (see Mk. 9:23; Matt. 10:23-31).
It is insulting to God to suggest He gave us commands that are impossible to obey. Many will die in their sin of unbelief if they don’t change how they think about God, if they don’t start taking His words more seriously.
Jesus is at the door knocking, but they won’t let Him in. The Jesus they feel is in their home differs from the Savior found in Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.
They do not recognize Him. Worldly pursuits keep them from seeing the real Jesus.
Lost and Unaware
In Revelation 3:15-21, Jesus addressed the Laodicean church. He had nothing positive to say about them. Instead, He referred to them as ‘lukewarm.’
These people thought they were serving God, but what they were doing was shutting Him out of their lives. Their attitude towards the truth was not right.
Jesus described them as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Yet, Jesus didn’t give up on them! He was knocking at their door, patiently waiting for them to invite Him.
Like many today, the Laodicean church heard the gospel but did not have a genuine relationship with Jesus. Pride kept Him out of their home.
The gospel they proclaimed to believe had become foreign to how they lived their lives. This happens when people become forgetful of where they were when they found God.
Forgetful of who Jesus is. Forgetful of the example He set before the world of what it means to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
Forgetful of the righteousness of God. Forgetful of what it means to stand up for the truth. Forgetful of the law of God. Forgetful of God’s promises and the conditions thereof.
Forgetful of quiet moments spent with God in earnest prayer. Forgetful of how to pray. Forgetful of the fire that burned within their hearts when they first learned of Jesus’ love for them.
Forgetful of what it means to praise God. Forgetful of the many times God moved in their lives to provide for them and protect them.
Forgetful of answered prayer. Forgetful of having a childlike faith. Forgetful of what it means to be grateful.
It’s time to remember! Time to start being mindful of God!
It’s Not Too Late
Many people are turning to the world for answers instead of seeking God first and foremost (Matt. 6:33).
They hear a voice speaking, telling them to follow their heart. They think it is God speaking to them, but it is not God. The Bible says the heart is deceitful; we should not rely on it for guidance (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 3:5-7, 17:20).
Many have lost their way as a result of following their heart. They are drowning in unbelief and sin and do not know they are in grave danger.
Like lukewarm Laodiceans, they do not realize they are lost and standing at the edge of destruction.
Time is running out! Jesus is knocking at their door, but they won’t let Him in.
Do you hear a knock at your door? Are you listening? Are there things about your life that need to be changed?
Are you resisting God?
It’s not too late to change. The Bible assures us that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins if we repent (Jer. 33:3; 1 Jn. 1:9).
Do you hear Jesus knocking? Open your door wide to Him and invite Him in. Learn from Him. Then go out and show the world what it means to love Jesus, and what it means to follow His example.
Don’t blend in with the crowd. Be different. Like Jesus!
Open the door!