Loving Others The Way God Loves You Will Change Everything

On the heels of Paul’s rebuke of Peter’s behavior (Galatians 2: 11-14) with the Jewish believers sent from Jerusalem and Gentiles in Antioch, Paul introduces the concept of justification by faith as being made clean spiritually and thus acceptable to God by faith in Jesus Christ.  Question that Paul is addressing is what makes a person justified, clean or acceptable in God’s presence?  The answer is Jesus Christ and faith in Him and His sacrifice for our sins. In verses 15 thru 21 Paul is giving a very personal response.  Paul introduces significant and historic Christian doctrine (Justification by faith alone in Christ alone) to the Galatians and generations of others who find themselves reading this letter.  This doctrine reveals the incredible and radically different love of God.  To be loved without strings attached; can you imagine?

From this text I am hoping we will see that loving people the way that God loves us will change everything in life.  Paul’s writings turned woke the world up to the love of God and the Holy Spirit used it to change lives.  In this generation, we should expect nothing less.

Back to the text – Galatians 2: 15-21.  Paul tells them that no one is justified by the works of the law but rather, through faith in Jesus Christ.  We believed (Paul and his friends) and they find themselves justified in Christ and in fellowship with God.

There can be no going back under the law (like Peter was tempted to and struggled with); that would leave them sinners.  Are they (Paul and Peter) sharing a message of sin?  Absolutely not; however, when Peter gave into fear and betrayed his beliefs he caused confusion – enough to almost catch Barnabas up in falling back under the law! 

Paul shares one of the most popular passages in the New Testament when he writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Paul’s point, the believer’s life belongs to Jesus and all he or she does is through Him.  Being justified by faith results in a life lived in the power of Christ.  It’s not about conjuring up goodness or achieving some level of holiness in one’s life.  It is Christ living through us; what freedom and grace!

In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome (Chapter 6), he essentially proclaims the Christian’s emancipation proclamation when he writes, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the law but under grace! (vs. 14).  We respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the teaching of Scripture and God transforms our lives.  The Gospel of grace leads to freedom and life!  This is the way that God loves us; to send His son to die for our sins and then through the work of the Holy Spirit empower us to live freely!

Loving others the way God loves you will change everything!

Justification by faith is being made acceptable to God through believing in what Jesus has done for you – that God loves you this much.  Can you believe that God sees you as good to go based solely on what Jesus has done for you?

If Peter an apostle who walked and talked with Jesus face to face had problems holding fast to the gospel of grace – is it possible that we too might have issues in our day and age?

Without justification by faith in Jesus we are left to employ some other means of justification – hence our good works, observance of tradition or religion or being good enough.  This is a life of performance management – leading to legalism, judgmentalism and burn out!

Loving others the way God loves you will change everything!

Here is a challenge for the week ahead:

How would you explain the difference between being a moral person and being a Christian to someone who thinks being good makes them acceptable to God?  Discuss this question with a group of friends and/or family.

We’ve read about God’s incredible and radical love this week.  We’ve considered if we have received it or believe it.  Now to take things in a different direction; how have you shown this type of love to others?  With the love you have received, have you given in same measure to others?

Christ living in me (loving others as I have been loved)… let’s get real with that concept this week.

·       Take the opportunity to let Christ shine through your life; show them you love them…

                o   Pay for someone’s groceries.

                o   Forgive someone who has offended you.

                o   Serve at least one family member this week, for example:

                        §  Do their laundry

                        §  Do their chores

                        §  Pick up after the dog/cat

                o   Serve someone in your universe this week. Do this as a family or with a group of friends.  This is a great way to work out your faith together and learn from one another.

                         §  Bring meal to an elderly person or family with an infant(s).  They can use the help!

                         §  Cut grass//weed flower bed for an individual or family that needs the help.

                         §  Wash someone’s car and even detail it, buy them hubcaps if they’re needed.

In doing these things you let the light of Christ shine through you AND you celebrate your faith in Christ by following Him.

The gospel of grace leads us to life but also leads us in how to live life!  The struggle to be free from the constraints of legalism is real.  Performance based relationships are often the norm for many people.  We can form our understanding of who God is based upon our relationships with our parents or other significant people in our lives who may love us based upon our performance.  It’s a hard and soul crushing way of life.

God is giving us another way to live. 

Grace begins with love and our behavior is to be in response to that love; we don’t earn it.  Are you ready to love others with that type of love?  Can you see how loving this way would change everything?

Living with justification by faith in Christ gives us a platform from which we can love others – no strings attached.  It is an incredible, empowering and freeing gift to give anyone – your love.

Imagine a marriage saturated with this type of love – freely given?  Imagine your relationship with your children // parents – such a powerful love – this love evokes trust and believing you each have the best in mind for each other. 

You can bring this into your home, work place and relationships; love others as you have been loved – it changes everything!

Vince Armfield