“For the love of Christ compels us…” 2 Corinthians 5:14a
A great theologian was attending a conference once and was asked by curious journalists, “Sir, what do you consider as the most profound theological statement ever made?” Without hesitation, he answered thus: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The entire Bible is the story of love, God’s love for mankind and what that love compelled Him to do. Generally, there are two kinds of people on earth: those who know, believe and have accepted God’s love and those who have not. “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
HIS LOVE FOR US
Love compelled Him to leave heaven and come to earth. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”(Philippians 2:6-8.NLT). It is inconceivable that Christ would leave heaven’s glory and come to earth. There are people who won’t even leave the comfort of the city to stay temporarily in the village. When we read about missionaries like Mary Slessor, who left the safety and comfort of Europe to come and live with primitive people in Calabar, we are amazed by their courage and sacrifice, but how about leaving the streets made of gold to walk on Palestine desert?
Love compelled Him to go to the Cross. In fact, the Cross was the highest demonstration of God’s love for us. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Crucifixion was one of the cruelest instruments of torture ever designed by fallen mankind. Jesus went through it for our sakes. We will never fully explore all the extent of Christ’s love in one lifetime! (Ephesians 3:19).
As if His sacrifice on the Cross was not enough, we are further reassured that nothing will be able to separate us from His love. Paul asked: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He went on to list several possibilities and concluded that none of them could separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). There is nowhere we can go that we won’t find the love of Christ.
EFFECTS OF HIS LOVE
Our realisation of Christ’s love for us and what that love compelled Him to do for us should inspire us to love and live for Him. Love always elicits a response. That was why love for Christ was Paul’s preoccupation and indeed, the early disciples. It was their driving force and it defined how they lived. For instance, Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). And again, “He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 GNT).
The story is told of a certain Missionary in Southern Africa who once approached a man lying unconscious in the jungle because he had been mauled by a lion. He bound up his wounds and nursed him back to health. The man departed but in three months showed up on the missionary’s doorsteps with his wife and children and said, the redeemed belongs to the redeemer, it is jungle law, I and my family are now yours. (Culled from SermonCentral.com). “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
WHAT SHOULD BE OUR REASONABLE RESPONSE TO HIS LOVE
Firstly, we should be rooted and grounded in His love. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). ‘Rooted’ is an agricultural term and it implies that our lives should have its taproot deep in the love of Christ. “Grounded” is a language of architecture and it implies that the foundation of our lives should be the love of Christ. When this happens then our faith will be unshakable.
Secondly, the least we can do is to reciprocate this love. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). One of the ways we show that we love Him is by obeying Him. Jesus said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3 NLT).
Thirdly, let our love for Him set boundaries for our lives. When a lady knows that she is in love with a man, she conducts herself in a certain way. She is always conscious that someone somewhere loves her so she cannot afford to live anyhow or let anyone touch her carelessly.
Love for Him should compel us to serve Him enthusiastically. We are to be ‘love ambassadors.’ “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:20a). If our service is not borne out of love we shall soon be weary. Jesus asked Peter “do you love me?” Then He told him to serve (John 20:15-17). God’s order is that love should precede service, whether it is to God or to people (Galatians 5:13). When Jacob was serving for Rachel, he did it with joy because of the love he had for her. “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.” (Genesis 29:20)
There is an interesting regulation about bondservants that we find in Deuteronomy 15:12-18. Here is a man who has a chance to be free but voluntarily chose to continue as a slave. Moreover, he was willing to pass through suffering and pain just to stay back. His reason for going through all these is because he knows that his master loves him. He would endure pain because of the magnitude of the master’s love for him. Sometimes, we too may have to go through inconveniencing situations just because of of love.
So, what has the love of Christ compelled you to do lately? How has it affected the choices you make – what you watch on TV, where you visit on the Internet etc? How has it made you do things you might not have otherwise done?
If you find yourself under pressure to do what is not appropriate especially on this Valentine’s Day, may the love of Christ be a restraint on you. When Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was compelled to either deny Christ or face death, his response was “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour.”
The legend concerning St Valentine is about love and sacrifice but it is incomparable to the sacrifice that Christ made for us. It’s unfortunate that today, many people will be looking for love in all the wrong places and from all the wrong faces but it is only in Christ that you can find true love. He is the greatest love of all.