February is typically the month the world associates with romantic love because of the observance of St. Valentine’s Day on February 14. Nevertheless, perhaps we Christians could use it as an occasion to proclaim the love of God for humanity. That’s what I want to talk about in this month’s digital evangelism article.
Whether we address people from a pulpit or a lectern, from a digital device or in verbal conversation, sharing the love of God for humanity ought to be our chief goal in communicating with others the need for salvation and the desire of God’s heart. While Christian brothers and sisters may need to be reminded of God’s love for them periodically, non-Christians need to have this fact emphasized to them up front as part of the evangelistic outreach we make to them. Certainly, it’s important to help nonbelievers understand their condition as sinners before God so that they can confess and repent, but as quickly as feasible, we need to help them understand the loving length God went to in order to spare us all from the condemnation for our sins.
When we read the words of Jesus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .” (John 3:16 NKJV) we need to know that Jesus is speaking as both God the Father and God the Son simultaneously. Moreover, the Greek word that is translated as world is the word cosmos. God loved the cosmos, His entire creation, so much that He was willing to sacrifice Himself in the form of a human being—His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus went on to say later, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:13-14 NKJV).
Aye, there’s the rub! We cannot be Jesus’ true friend if we do not accept and keep His word. Indeed, Judas Iscariot was counted among Jesus’ friends until he betrayed Him (see Psalm 41:9, John 13:18-26 and Matthew 26:50). As God said through the prophet Amos, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3 NKJV). Perhaps He meant that unless two people agree to go to the same destination they cannot follow the same path. He might also mean that unless they agree to walk at the same pace they cannot walk together, for one will surely outpace the other if they don’t. In the spiritual sense in which I’m sure He intended it, we cannot go along with God or keep pace with Him unless we agree with Him.
Before we can effectively evangelize anyone else, however, we must make certain of our own covenantal relationship with God through Christ. Then, once we are truly in covenant with God, we can help others enter into that same covenant. It all comes down to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength so that not only can we love our neighbors as ourselves, but we can truly love them as Christ loves them (compare Matthew 22:35-40; John 13:34; John 14:15 & 23; and John 15:10 & 12). In fact, if we don’t possess the genuine love of Christ in our hearts, then we will find it impossible to love either God or neighbor as we are commanded to do. For if we do not truly love God, we will not love our neighbors, and if we do not truly love our neighbors, then we will not really care whether they are saved from the wrath to come.
The best description of love found anywhere is in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13. As we read verses 4-10 of that chapter we realize how far from the mark we fall. However, when we consider the Apostle John’s assertion that “God is love” (1 John 4:8 & 16) we understand why we fall so short. Nevertheless, we are not excused from striving to meet this standard because John goes on to tell us that “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16b NKJV). It is only through abiding in God that He abides in us, and if He abides in us, so will His great love.
Perhaps the greatest test of whether one is truly abiding in God is if he or she demonstrates genuine love for others. As Paul concludes his infamous “Love Chapter” he states, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV).
If loving as God loves is arguably God’s strongest desire for us (as implied in John 13:34, 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 1 Corinthians 13:13), then we should seek to imitate Him in practicing true love above all else. Naturally, this is something we should do for more than just St. Valentine’s Day or even for the month of February each year. May we evermore succeed in our quest for True Love!
Michael L. White is the founder and Managing Editor of Parson Place Press, an independent Christian publishing house in Mobile, Alabama. His books Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! and The Salvation of the LORD are available wherever books are sold. For a list of his other books and articles, visit his Website at http://books.parsonplace.com.