The Law of Love
When you read the Bible and it describes Christianity, and then you look at yourself, do you ever wonder whether you’re a Christian at all? I know I do.
Neither our assurance as believers nor God’s love for us hinges on our ability to live out certain Christian principles; rather, both depend on what Christ has achieved for us on the cross. Even so, the Bible teaches us to look for evidences of our salvation in the present. If we truly are the Father’s children, we are bound to display a love for others that resembles Jesus’ love for us.
Jesus calls for us to love people in a way that is not related to their attractiveness, merit, or lovability. We know that this is exactly how God loves us—His love is not based on us cleaning up our act, deserving His attention, or demonstrating that we’re predisposed towards or useful to Him. None of these things contribute to God’s love for us. No—“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added).
The greatest measure of our faith, then, is love—love that reflects the love that we have received in such abundance. We engage in agape love—unconditional, sacrificial love—because it is an expression of the character of God and all He’s done for us. We don’t exercise this kind of love for our enemies because we are blind to who they really are but because we have gazed at God’s love for us. Jesus says that when we see others as they are—in all of their ugliness and spitefulness, all of their cursing, all of their hatred, and all of their unwillingness to pay us what they owe us—we are to be realistic about all of it, and then love them. Seeing all of that enmity, says Jesus, I want you to love your enemies.
By nature, we are incapable of displaying such love. But consider the kind of difference we would make to our culture if we were prepared to live out, in both everyday and extraordinary ways, a Christlike love which seeks to do what’s best for those who have acted in enmity towards us. That would be revolutionary—without any question at all.
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened.
Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Saul Escapes from Damascus
23When many days had passed, the Jews1 plotted to kill him, 24but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall,2 lowering him in a basket.
Saul in Jerusalem
26And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
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