Most people go to great lengths not to stand out. There is something scary about being singled out or even feeling like you are being singled out. As a Christian you will stand out in some way because the world and Jesus are not on the same page. You will be opposed for following Jesus. You will not be popular for following Jesus. You will potentially lose friends for following Jesus. You stand out, as difficult as it is, because Jesus is alive and calls all of us to a new way of living. There we also invite others to know Him.
One key part of follow Jesus is love. Love goes hand in hand with one who follows God because God is love. He is not the originator of hatred, envy, or anger, but He is the originator of love. God’s love stands out in the world, and this is a good thing.
Love Starts With God
Unlike what we often see or hear about people being good to each other, that is not how it naturally is. In fact, man’s heart is inherently wicked. We don’t love naturally. Now, yes, non-Christian people do demonstrate love at some level, but not at the same level as God does and gives to us through Jesus.
In this way love is the mark of the Spirit’s work in your life because only a true transforming friendship with God actually produces this authentic love. It is only perfect in Him, not in us, and certainly not from us.
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” – 1 John 4:7 (NLT)
Love is God’s very nature. Love captures all that God does. Even His judgment and wrath on people were filtered though His love. In fact, that is why He has demonstrated it so clearly to us in Jesus Christ. Here and now we have relationships with other people, we love our family, friends and spouse – all of those things are but a small piece of the love God has and is working out in our lives.
Love Shows God to Others
The movie version of love is about passion and getting fulfillment or companionship—all good things to a point. But, when people love people they are not close with, are not attracted to, or are enemies with, that is whole new scenario. In this way love shows God to other people.
“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” – 1 John 4:12
God uses us to demonstrate His love to other people so that your life would point others to Him. We went for a walk last summer and a small dog followed us. It was a nice little dog and my kids were happy to have him along for the walk. The problem was that this was not our dog. So, back to the house we went to let them know that their dog was wandering around the neighborhood. We didn’t want it to get hit by a car. Knock, knock, knock—no answer. Well, maybe the dog will stay at home now that we are back at its home. We started moving again back to our house and the dog happily followed us home right into our yard.
Is this our problem? Not technically, no, but this is someone’s dog. People treat their dogs like they would children, although I don’t think they would have lost track of a child for this long. I looked at the tag again and there was a phone number. I called it, no answer. In the mean time we are watching the dog get closer to a busy road by our home. We were going to watch this dog get hit by a car.
What do we do? Go in the house and hope it goes home? I called the police and they put me on hold for 5 minutes. Finally, we saw a woman frantically running down the road obviously looking for her dog. They were reunited and she thanked us for our help.
Does that interaction demonstrate God love to someone? Sure it does. We didn’t have to care. We could have ignored it all together and said, “oh well, if it gets hit by a car it is their problem, not mine.” But that is not what God calls us to. These interactions are often the best ways we can show people who God is because it stands out from the fast paced, me centered world we live in.
People do not see God, but they see you. You are God’s representatives on earth who He choses to use to show His glory and grace to other people.
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” – 1 John 4:10
We live forever in heaven with God because Jesus lives. It is Jesus who came in the flesh to condemn sin in the flesh. Remember the word condemn? It is like this: there was a crime committed, in our case we rebelled against God and offended Him; the verdict was passed, in this case guilty as charged; the punishment was declared – death and eternal separation from God.
But God, in his love, took on the punishment and condemned sin instead of us by dying on the cross and raising again to live forever. He wins and sin loses. We are called to accept this gift through faith—to believe and turn away from that sin, those things that separate us from God and accept forgiveness and eternal life that is made possible by His death and resurrection.
It is an exchange—He takes our sin, we take His new life. This is the one way to God for all who would receive it.
It is time to stand out in a good way! The world needs to know this love that we have in Christ. Stand out by living it out and watching how God uses you to reach other people for Himself.