Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 2 Corinthians 13:4

Weakness – dfn. lack of physical strength; lack of power, influence or strength of character; a weak point in a system or somebody’s character. (Source: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Can God be weak? Is it possible for the great God of glory to exhibit any weaknesses? Or can God “choose” to be weak to achieve a much greater purpose and cause? One thing is certain and one thing we all agree upon is that love is weak. Love does not operate from a position of power or strength. Love assumes the position of weakness, giving instead of taking and being the recipient of pain versus the one causing the pain, And the list goes on. That stated, how do we respond when the Bible says that “God is love” (I Jn 4:8,16). If God is love and love is weak then what does this say about God’s person, nature, being and character?

As we probe this a little further we will find out that God does and always has a plan. And His plans are perfect. And His plans have always centered around one goal and purpose – to show all of creation how magnificent, how wonderful and how glorious He really is (Ps 145:10-11, Is 6:3, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11). And we will discover that this whole subject of weakness has an astounding ending. Let’s dive into this a little.

 The Progressive Works of God

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth in a miraculous display of creative power. We know that, but what we sometimes forget or do not think about is that these acts of creative power were not conclusive.  After each day of creation God said that “it was good” six times (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25). The number ‘six’ is the number of man, the number of incompletion. This tells us something. It tells us that God had something else planned that would supersede His “good”. What is that? The answer is: God’s ‘best’. God said that His acts of creation were good. What God did not say was that He was “finished” with His work of creation. It would take 6,000 years before He would say that his work of creation on earth was “finished”.

God’s way of revealing His character and will through HIs sovereign acts and ways is progressive in nature (Is 28:10, 13). His plans unfold the way photographs were originally made. Photographs used to be formed after light-sensitive photographic paper was immersed a chemical bath called a “developing solution” after being exposed to a light source projected through a film negative. Images would slowly emerge over the paper’s surface while the solution swished over its surface until the entire scene photographed appeared. Such is the revelation of God, a step-by-step progression of events unfolding to culminate into the complete understanding and knowledge of all that God is.

Progressive Steps – A Man, A Family, A Nation & A World

God’s first step in revealing His character and nature started with a single man, Adam. Adam, the first created being made in God’s image was his first choice to begin exposing who He was through communication and fellowship. Adam failed in fulfilling all that God planed for him because of disobedience. So, as God always does, He moved on. God then chose a family to work with and continue to unfold his perfect plan and will. The man was Noah and he found grace in the sight of God (Gen 6:8). The Lord worked through Noah and his family to preserve a remnant of mankind from judgment (the flood) looming over earth’s inhabitants. After Noah and his offspring fulfilled their God-given role He moved on to something bigger – a nation.

The Lord chose the people of the nation of Israel (through the faith of Abraham) as the next step to reveal His will. The Lord started what would be a journey of almost 2,000 yeas to prepare a people who would glorify Him and be a witness of his power, mercy, goodness and grace to a darkened world. Again, the plan fell short of its intended expectations. Israel would eventually become divisive, indifferent to the ways of God and fall into relative oblivion amongst the nations of the earth.

After failing to achieve perfection yet again, God in his last and final attempt to fulfill His perfect plan decided to take matters into his own hands. This final plan would supersede all others in scope and power and go beyond the limitations of human futility, family frailty and national hostility. God’s final and perfect plan would encompass the entire world and involve all of Heaven, including Himself!

But God faced a dilemma. Because of the nature of this final plan Heaven could not be its launching pad or its  operations center. Why? Because this plan demanded a part of God that He had up to this point not revealed. This final plan demanded God’s total and complete commitment of His love and forgiveness only attainable through profound weakness. And He was up to the challenge.

Earth – The Manifestation of God’s Greatest Weakness, The Perfection of God’s Magnificent Power

Heaven is a place of eternity and timelessness where demonstrations and exhibitions of God’s glory, might and power are in full display. Heaven is not a place for weakness. When God determined it was time to manifest and reveal the most glorious aspects of His character, nature and being He would have to do it at some other place and in some other form. And He did. It is the place we know as planet Earth. God designed earth for two  purposes; to heal the breach of sin in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion) and on earth (Adam’s fall/man’s sin) and to reveal to all of Creation the glory of of His character and manifestation of His greatness weakness – His love. To gather together IN ONE “all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).

He began the process on earth as a child in the “likeness of sinful (weak) flesh”:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33

God himself stepped beyond the curtain of Heaven’s glory and power to become weak, weak like you and me.
However, he did it unlike you and I. He became flesh and lived without committing sin. Jesus was truly the Lamb of God. Perfect. Sinless. Blameless. Guiltless.

First we need to ask a question: Was Jesus really weak?

He became sin who knew no sin (Is 53:12; II Cor 5:21)
He laid down his life so others might take their life up (Luk 22:19-20; Rom 8:32; I Jn 3:16)
He chose death so others might have live (Joh 10:15-18)
He became poor so others might be rich (II Cor 8:9)
He relinquished his God-given power so others might be empowered by it (Mark 5:37-39; Joh 7:37-39; Acts 1:8, 2:38)
He was a lamb before a merciless company of fearless beasts (Is 53:7; Mark 15:32)
He was speechless and defenseless while being falsely accused (Mark 15:3-5)
He loved and forgave the who betrayed him (Mark 14:18-21Luk 22:47-48)
He loved and forgave all who hated him and were ashamed of him (Luk 23:34)

Can we conclude that Jesus indeed chose weakness over power? Is that not how true love is supposed to work?

God’s plans are foolproof. If he fails to accomplish something one way, He will always have something behind the scene that will come through when needed.

Satan thinks he has it all figured out. He believes his dominion over the world is unchallengeable, his death threat forever intact and his plan of deception and destruction over mankind unequaled. Being the father of lies (Joh 8:44) he is the chief deceiver,  deceived and dead wrong.

There is one thing Satan never experienced in Heaven nor will he ever understand about God. And that is: God’s weakness and the profound love of God birthed in that weakness. Satan and his hordes of fallen angels are  completely dumfounded by continually being defeated by the power of God’s love. God’s love has the capacity (unlike any other agent known on earth) to attract the human soul beyond sin’s gravitational pull and cause it to fall in total surrender before its Creator. As one lady radio announcer phrased it: “God’s love is the most compelling force in the entire universe”. It most definitely is.

And here is how. God’s power is perfected in weakness:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The word “strength” in this verse is the Greek word “δύναμις” [dunamis] which is translated into English as “force” or specifically, “miraculous power”. The word “dynamite” is derived from this same Greek word. What does this all mean?

This tells us that God, in the most infinitely weak form possible, came to this earth in the “likeness” of sinful flesh to perfect His power. God became infinitely weak through his death on a cross so that He might become …………. infinitely powerful! So powerful in fact that Jesus is now worthy to receive all of the fullness of God’s glory, might and honor – “even in him” (Eph 1:10). Now that is something to get excited about.

From “It Is Good” to “It Is Finished” – Jesus, Our Seventh Day Of Eternal Rest

As mentioned at the outset, God said after each act of creation the words “it is good” (6x). This tells us that God had one more act of creation to perform – an act to bring everything full circle and complete His final, perfect plan waiting to unfold from the beginning of time.

According to God’s Word one day with the Lord can be 1,000 years or 1,000 years as one day (2 Pet 3:8). Therefore it is not coincidental that Jesus Christ appeared on earth exactly 6 days (6,000 years) after God’s work of Creation. God in the Old Testament rested on the seventh day from His work of creation (Gen 2:1-3) and also reserved this day for mankind’s physical rest (Mar 2:27). In the New Testament, Jesus offers those who believe and trust in him a new life with a new beginning (2 Cor 5:17). Jesus can be seen as the seventh day from creation offering mankind the gift of eternal ‘spiritual’ rest (Mat 11:28-29; Heb 3:11, 4:9-11; Rev 14:13). The Lord completed or finished His final creative week of seven days when Jesus fulfilled the Father’s perfect will.

What was that final act or work of perfection God needed to perform?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34  

God’s perfect will was to manifest Himself in weakness as the Son (flesh) of God on earth to offer salvation to a fallen world through his sinless blood and give the hope of eternal rest (life) to those under the power of sin and death by the god of this world. It was through this sacrificial act that God revealed to the world the most magnificent and profound nature of His person being – His deep, profound love.

The death of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and Savior of the world was God’s seventh and final ‘work’ that fulfilled the Father’s will and ‘finished’ His creative plan on earth:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30 

In conclusion, God’s perfected power is expressed and manifested in the form of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus is the embodiment of that perfected power and rules “at God’s right hand” in the seat of Heaven having all authority and power over all of Creation (Rev 1:12-18). All because of weakness and all because of love. God’s love. For God is love.

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

And Samson

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Samson.

Every child who has ever attended Sunday School knows all about Samson. What child’s imagination does not get sparked by his mighty exploits? From the setting afire the tails of a skittish skulk of 300 foxes (Judges 15:4-6), the killing of 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (Judges 15:15-17), ripping out single-handedly the gates of the enemy’s fortified city (Judges 16:3), and the breaking of ropes as if sewing thread (Judges 15:12-13, 16:11-12). Purely fantastic fodder for the imaginative mind.

And God had a divine and outstanding mission planned for Samson before his birth:

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Judges 13:3-5

Samson had it all. From the beginning he had both Heaven’s anointing and destiny imprinted upon his soul. Samson was called to deliver Israel from her enemies the Philistines. And to a degree he did.

Moreover, Samson was both one of the most enigmatic figures ever recorded in the Old Testament and Samson was also one of the most tragic figures recorded in the Old Testament.

And Samson.

The Pillars

If we could go back in time ourselves and embrace the imagination of a child we just might see what God possibly saw in the last scene of Samson’s life:

But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. Judges 16:21

There he is swarming within all of the theatrics and drama of life. A pitiful figure Samson is. Where his laser sharp and dark piercing eyes once were are now scarred and disfigured eye sockets. Where freedom once allowed the man to tromp over his enemy’s heads in vengeance, he is now bound like an animal in a parade of mockery.

Let us also imagine and wonder how the Lord perceived this. How did God feel while looking at this pitiful scene? It had to have broken His heart. The God of Glory had to have wept and mourned for Samson. The promises. The anointing. All the hope vanished in a moment. Only a heart-less king and ruler would respond otherwise.

But, God is God and not man.

And Samson.

And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Judges 16:26

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:29

Perhaps in Samson’s mind thoughts of his troubled past interlaced with divine thoughts of future hope and glory. And maybe he uttered these words:

“Lad, let me feel the pillars. I cannot see them, but just let me feel them because I know a God who still performs miracles. I’ve seen Him do them in my past, and by God’s grace and mercy, He can do it again. Because I know a God who is still in the miracle-working business.”

He was physically blinded, but somehow Samson miraculously sensed pillars in the room, and one more important pillar, a spiritual one. The pillar of his God was also present, for his one true Pillar of truth had not forsaken him and gave him renewed hope exactly when he needed it most.

And Samson

Maybe you were wondering by now why the repeated, maybe even disruptive repetition of the phrase “And of Samson”? (the word “of” is not in the original Greek) Here is why:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Hebrews 11:32

Nestled on the wall of Heaven’s Champions of Faith as recorded in Hebrews Chapter 11 is a most unlikely person. He was perhaps God’s most colossal failure. He stumbled. He fell. He embarrassed himself, he embarrassed Israel and He embarrassed Jehovah God. So why would God care? Why would the Lord waste more time and divine resources on a fallen hero? There is one reason:

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. Hosea 11:9

A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. Matthew 12:20

When man would say: “Let’s move on. Done deal. The damage is done. No damage control in the world can rectify this situation.” Heaven says: “Not so fast“.

Hopeless? In “the world”, yes. In Heaven, absolutely NOT.

For God is God and not man.

Man may, but God never extinguishes even the faintest glimmer of hope or faith in anyone. A raging forest fire can be started by one small spark. One spark of faith and hope in a heart can be the beginning of new life in impossible situations and when facing insurmountable odds.

It was one last spark that changed Samson’s world. And one last spark was all Samson needed:

Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. Judges 16:27-30

Samson’s final act was his very best. Up to this point in his life is it not mentioned where he ever prayed. But, here we see Samson prayed to his God. And his God heard it.

Because of his prayer and faith in God, the Lord honored it, gave him the victory and saw fit to place his name on His wall of faith. Samson got a piece of the wall and became one of God’s pillars of faith. His name is nestled right smack in the middle of the godly and victorious company of Gedeon,  Barak, Jephthae and Samuel.

Why? Because the faith Samson exercised at the end of his life simply pleased God. For without faith it is impossible to please Him.

The Lord took the crumbling wreckage of the pillars of Samson’s life and transformed them into a pillar of faith for all of time and eternity.

It is not over until God says it is over. And God is still in the miracle-working business. Our God is the Master of turning Messes into Masterpieces!

God is God and not Man.

And Samson.

Be Blessed!

Hacked Heart – Part I

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5

Computer hacking and hackers in general are subjects not unfamiliar to our world. The advent of Internet-accessible computer systems that crunch, transmit and store personal and financial data has birthed a dark and slithery offspring known as cyber crime. It is estimated that in this year (2019) the cost of global cyber crime will reach $2.1 trillion. As the numbers indicate, someone is being hacked.

The purpose of this post is not about data breaches or computer system vulnerabilities. Rather to bring to light the fact that one of the most guarded and secretive places we think we possess – our heart, is not impervious to inspection or as sanctified as we might believe.

Our human hearts are hack-able, by either good or evil.  There is a backdoor (if you will) embedded in each of our hearts that is open for inspection by our Creator and by evil. Let’s dive into this a little bit.

Impersonation – Satan’s Most Lethal Weapon

If I can impersonate the data, I own the data” were words spoken by a cyber-security expert at a computer data security conference. Before the room’s acoustics had time to smother and extinguish the word’s last echo, it came immediately apparent there was a deeper meaning to be gleaned here and the reason for choosing the training session.

The point the speaker was making is a computer hacker’s goal is to construct his malicious code in a manner that an innocent host computer will be fooled into “believing” (if you will) that its insidious, destructive payload is benign. The computer under attack accepts the foreign code (i.e., malware) as if it belongs, accepting it as its own. When this happens nothing can stop the impersonated data from taking total control over the computer and adjoining computer systems.

Applying this concept on a spiritual level, If the devil can implant a thought of his into your heart, he can takeover and commandeer your heart. He now has access. Your heart has been hacked. The thought that was initially foreign to your established neural pathways has now made you think that his wicked thought is now your thought. This is what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Talking Serpents Anyone?

From reading the Genesis account of Eve’s interaction with the serpent one might conclude this was not the first encounter she had with him. Why? When was the last time you engaged in dialogue with a talking serpent? The Bible up to this point gives no indication that any of the other animals or living creatures possessed vocal qualities, particularly a language understood by both Adam and Eve.

So the assumption is Eve could have been acquainted with this one-of-a kind creature many times in the past, who unlike all of God’s other creatures, had an uncanny ability to verbally communicate. In any event, her dialogue with the serpent was no surprise to her. The serpent somehow eroded her apprehensions and assuaged any fear concerning his strangeness. Sounds like things have not changed much on that frontier. Let’s move along.

The modus operandi of the hacker is to work slowly, stealthily, and persistently in stages until the target’s vulnerabilities are discerned and numbed into accepting a malicious payload.

The serpent’s first hurdle was to trick Eve into believing that talking creatures were not so strange after all. He apparently succeeded on that front. His next plan of attack was to inject Eve’s heart with lies to produce doubt concerning her own faith, which snowballed into calling her husband’s integrity into question and ultimately the authority of God’s word.

What were Eve’s vulnerabilities? The same ones we battle daily. Her flesh:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Genesis 3:6

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

Eve was deceived by lies and then both she and Adam became offended and shamed in the process:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 1 Timothy 2:14

Eve’s heart was hacked by impersonation, an impostor hacked her heart with lies. And the hacker has not missed a day’s work since. Anyone whose heart and mind has not been enlightened by the light, hope and truth of the gospel is living with a heart hacked by the god of this world:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. II Corinthians 4:3-4

Wounds of Offense

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16  

This verse always seemed perplexing and left one wondering of its full meaning as it is another one of the Apostle Paul’s amazing, thought-provoking and spirit-inspired passages.

While sitting in Bible school several years ago, the instructor (a well-established pastor who is invited to speak internationally, so he knows his subject matter) quoted this very verse and proceeded to unravel its meaning in a profound way. In a nutshell, this is what was conveyed.

The Greek word ‘conscience’ here is συνείδησις (suneidēsis) which means: co-perception. This concept of co-perception is very important.

Suneidēsis is a prolonged form of συνείδω (suneidō) which is broken down as:
Sun: denoting union; with or together + eidō: to see, to know: – be aware, behold, perceive, understand.

In essence, the coalescing of a thought in our mind operates like a reverse prism by bringing together two (the ‘co’) converging reference points – our thoughts or perceptions and another reference to determine how we reach a final conclusion on a matter.

This is where offenses come into the picture. An offense is defined as: (1) a thing that constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural, (2) annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principals. (source: New Oxford American Dictionary)

How is this ‘offense-free’ conscience Paul speaks about attained? Well you guessed it, God’s Word:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119:165

When our mind uses the Word of God (law) as the reference point in that thought prism, our perception at that point is pure, untainted and Holy. However, when something else replaces or personifies God’s Word (either evil or fleshly, carnal thoughts/ patterns – strongholds) we forfeit peace and become offended.

This is what happened to Eve. Satan impersonated God’s Word (truth) with lies, she then believed Satan’s word was her own and likewise caused her to become offended, shamed and doubt God’s word.

It is the work of impersonation. It is the work of an impostor; a foreign agent has infiltrated enemy lines, donned himself with the familiar garb of its unsuspecting citizens who have graciously granted him mental asylum.

The enemy is a master of disguise and deception. We know this from the scriptures:

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. II Corinthians 11:14

This is evidence of the crafty, stealthy, transformed angel of light impostor.

This is why one must search the scriptures to hide and protect God’s word:

Psalms 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

In where? In the heart.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17  

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12  

The impostor attempted to execute the same hacking campaign against Jesus that he successfully leveled against Eve:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Matthew 4:3

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4  

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Matthew 4:7  

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Matthew 4:10 -11

He failed. The word of God is the hacker’s greatest enemy and will stop him in his tracks every time.

Coming up next: Heart Hacked – By Good. Instead of being hacked by a lie, we will look into being hacked by something far greater and more powerful – Hacked Heart’s by God’s love.

Be Blessed!

Love Is A Fight

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:18

Love is a fight. A fight to the finish. You don’t believe it? Hopefully, after further explanation of the above verse you will be convinced.

A song was released several years back entitled “Love Is Not A Fight” that was a soundtrack pick for the popular move ‘Fireproof.’ It is a great song, great lyrics with an upbeat rhythm. And from the song’s perspective on love in general, and for marriage in particular, the message makes a lot of sense.

However, in retrospect, love for some things in life are indeed a battle to the finish line. What are we talking about here? We are talking about a love that goes beyond the bedroom and into a throne room. The throne room of God where Jesus Christ is seated:

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. The Book of Revelation 1:12-16

This is the source of love being spoken of here. Jesus’ love is not cheap. This love is not merchandise. Jesus’ love is pure. Jesus’ love is precious. Jesus’ love is perfect. This love was forged in a furnace of affliction, shrouded in a cacophony of shame, and purified by pain beyond imagination:

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:2-5

People of faith are going to have to fight with everything they have to keep this love alive to the finish line, and not let up until the enemy of our soul is beaten all the way to the 10 count.

Many years ago the following scripture was shared with a group of teenage Sunday school students:

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:18

As explained to them, from the surface the initial interpretation that comes to mind when reading the word “scarcely” is: barely, by the skin of one’s teeth, or just about “making it in”. However, further inspection reveals that the Apostle Peter had something else in mind here when penning the words about “making it” into heaven.

The word ‘scarcely’ used here is the translation of the Greek word μόλις (molis) which means “with difficulty: – hardly, with much work”. The Word is the Word and you just cannot twist it or airbrush it. What does this mean?

It means that to “be saved” is going to involve a battle. To make it into heaven is going to involve much work, toil, difficulty – in short, a fight. The Apostle Paul was inspired under the same vein of thought when addressing his young protégé and “son in the Lord” Timothy:

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I Timothy 6:12

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: II Timothy 4:7

Right before his pending execution Paul penned these final, parting words intended for encouragement, admonishment and heart-felt compassion for his son – remember, to keep the torch of truth and the love of Christ alive a fight would have to be won.

Is it any different for us living in the 21st century with the world around us fulfilling the prophetic words of Jesus:

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Luke 21:25

The words “the sea and the waves roaring” sounds like a description of hurricanes and typhoons. We have to be awake in this hour. We might put on a pair of boxing gloves and start fighting for our lives, for our families and our neighbors who are positioned on later half of the opening verse of I Peter 4:18 – where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

May Jesus helps us all.