What Does Love Look Like?
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"But when you are separated from Me, you are powerless" TO LOVE.
How can I love like Jesus? How can I obey Him to love my neighbor as myself when I don't love myself? How can I love myself and my neighbor if I don't know what love looks like? If a child wasn't loved by her parents who brought her into the world, then how does she know what love is?
These are all of the questions that I asked myself when I became serious about following Jesus. I read Jesus' words in the book of Mark, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:21), and it stumped me. I knew that I desired to be loved, just like every other human being on this earth. My hunger for love was deep because as a child, I experienced neglect and abuse from my parents who were supposed to love and protect me. I realize now as an adult, that my parents failed to show me what love looks like, because they themselves were not the recipient of love by their parents. I'm sure they tried to love their children in the best way they knew, but if they didn't have the substance of love themselves, then how were they supposed to give it away? Where does one get the substance of love?
I began a quest to find this love that I read and heard about. I wanted it so very badly! I sought out to find the substance of love, as one searches to find gold. Then one day, I read in God's Word, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:8ESV). GOD IS LOVE! Now I discovered where to get this love that I so desired! God! As I continued to draw closer to God and desire the love that I knew He could give me, I chose to take part in a series of workshops where I could learn more about being filled with the Holy Spirit. During one of those sessions, I read a list of the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit found in the book of Galatians, and BAM! There it was! A fruit of the Holy Spirit is LOVE! With this realization, I was desperate to have the life of the Holy Spirit to fill me so then I would have the POWER TO LOVE!
When the leaders of the workshop prepared to pray over me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they told me to ask God for gifts of the Holy Spirit. I had learned of the 9 gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12, in addition to the 9 fruits. As I considered gifts to ask God for, such as miracles, prophecy and healing, the one thing that I asked God for was LOVE. I went through this workshop several more times in the years to follow and each time, I asked God for the same thing, the fruit of LOVE.
In order for me to bear the fruit of love in my everyday life, I need to be connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ. I learned of this truth while reading in the book of John (chapter 15:1-17). I felt God say to me that I will bear the fruit of love if I remain connected to (or abide in) the Vine. "As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you, but when you live separated from me, you are powerless" (John 15:5TPT). As I read the following verses in this chapter, I see the word LOVE listed over and over. Jesus said in verses 9 and 10, "I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts...for I continually live nourished and empowered by His love." We learn from Jesus' life as told to us in the New Testament that Jesus went to be alone to pray to the Father on a frequent basis. Jesus chose to remain connected to the Father, and it was in that place of intimacy with Him, that He received the power to love all people, including Peter who denied Him, Judas who betrayed Him, and Malchus who came to arrest Him as if He were a hardened criminal.
If we remain connected to Jesus, the Vine, then we will have the power to love, even when faced with hatred. We will have the power to obey Jesus' words, "So this is my parting command: Love one another deeply" (John 15:17TPT). We simply do not possess authentic, pure and powerful love in our mortal flesh. We may try to love without the Spirit of God, but we will fail. Our attempts to love without God, the source of pure love, will end up being artificial. Unfortunately, people are so desperate for love, that they often settle for this kind of love. They talk themselves into believing that what they are feeling or receiving is true love, but it really is not.
Because I have remained connected to the Vine, God has filled with the love needed to forgive my mother for neglecting me and my father for abusing me. I also came to understand why my parents were unable to love me the way that I needed them to. They were not connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ.
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