If you read my previous post, you know that my church's goal for 2011 is to take what we've learned from Project 4:4 last year and put it into action this year by loving God and loving others. We were given a packet with some material and some ideas of practical ways to go about that. Along with those assignments, we were also given a little bit of study material to get into the Word a little bit more concerning love. I wanted to post some of that study here, so I figured I'd better go ahead and write about January's study, since I picked up my new February packet yesterday!
The theme we were given to study for January is "God is Love".
We looked as several aspects of God's love: it is self-giving; it is sacrificial; it is unconditional; it is eternal; it is holy; it is comforting; it is life-changing.
There were also several questions which we were asked to answer:
1. Put the statement "God is LOVE" into your own words.
I'm not sure if this counts or not, but rather than putting it in my words, I will borrow some words from the Apostle Paul and say that "God is LOVE" means that "God is patient. God is kind. He does not envy. He does not boast. He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking. God is not easily angered. He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects; always trusts; always hopes; always perseveres. God never fails."
2. How would you explain the "unconditional" characteristic of God's love.
I think it was easily explained in the verse listed above, Romans 5:8, which states that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We did absolutely nothing to deserve His favor. Yet that's what He shows us. He LOVES us, just because we are His!
3. Other than Jesus, which person in the Bible best exemplifies an understanding of "God is Love"?
I'll admit right away answer to this question probably is not typical. As I thought about this one, my mind raced quickly through the Scriptures from beginning to end, but this person is the one that I couldn't seem to get out of my head. And I don't even know her name.
But in Luke 7, Jesus is eating at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. I'm not entirely sure why this Simon invited Jesus to dinner, because Jesus didn't exactly win many friends among the Pharisees. And it is apparent from the passage that Simon hasn't exactly treated Jesus with the proper courtesies of the day.
But since Simon's behavior toward Jesus was less-than-proper, it's very, shall we say, Pharisaical (?) of him to be passing judgment on what happens next, when a woman "who had lived a sinful life" comes to see Jesus. She wets his feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, and pours perfume on them.
Simon can't believe what is happening. He thinks, "If Jesus knew who she was, He wouldn't let her touch Him!" Simon apparently doesn't realize his own sin, yet he can't get over the fact that this is a "sinful" woman. And, let's be honest, "sinful" is cleaning it up quite a bit. She was a prostitute. I'm certain Simon would've called her a whore.
Just when Simon is thinking this to himself, Jesus says, "I have something to tell you...Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
When Simon responds with, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled," Jesus continues speaking to Simon, but at this point He turns toward the woman and continues, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
This woman, in my mind, demonstrates an incredible understanding of "God is Love" as she realizes who Jesus is, and because of that, she loves much.
4. How have you experienced God's love this month?
There's not enough time for me to answer this question, honestly. I've experienced His love in more ways that I can even begin to list. Beyond every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms that He's blessed me with, I get to wake up every morning. I have a wonderful family and friends. I live in a beautiful city and go to work every day at a great job. More than anything, I get to have a relationship with Him.
5. How has God's love changed your life?
It has changed my life in that I try to live with an awareness of His love for me and I try to
show that love to others. It means that my life is no longer about me. It's not about what I need to do or what I want to do. It's about how I can try to bless someone else, how I can try to love them, because God has loved me.