This is Love: Christ Died for His Enemies
Every single person alive, regardless of background, address, ethnicity, tradition or tax bracket, desires to love and be loved. This desire is so strong that almost every action throughout our lifetime is motivated by it. The desire to love and be loved is as natural as the air we breathe.
We can know what we love by listening to what we give praise to. Love is something we love to share. When we praise food, clothes, sports, art, family, etc. – we are revealing our love for these things. When we fill our days praising food and recreation, but have no love in our hearts to praise the Father and the Son, our loves are leading us astray.
The challenge comes when our love for created things supplants our love for the Creator. When our love for secondary things replaces what Jesus described as “our first love” (Revelation 2:4), we have a problem.
“That” Kind of Love
The heart of the Gospel is that God loved us enough to save us from what we love. Our new birth given through faith in Christ, saves us from lesser, idolatrous love. God wants to align our loves, our affections and our attention, to where it should be – on HIM. Then these other loves, restored to their proper place, actually lead to more love in our life and not less.
Genesis chapter one tells us we were made in the image of God. 1 John 4:7 reveals to us God IS love. But this isn’t a love that was born with Adam and Eve. No, the triune Godhead, Father, Son and Spirit, have loved each other perpetually, perfectly and eternally. This is a much deeper and richer love than our earthly love. And this is the love we long for. We are desperate for “that” kind a love. One that is eternal, perfect and unending.
In our culture, love is often limited to simply romantic love. While the Bible’s definition of love includes romantic love, it is by no means limited to only romantic love. Biblical love includes acceptance, kindness, purpose, longing and belonging. This is the love we long for and it is “that” kind of love that will satisfy. It is love that is only found in Him.
“While we were” Kind of Love
We will go to great lengths to demonstrate our love for what is most important to us. That is made evident through what we are willing to sacrifice. Parents will sacrifice time for their kid’s activities. Spouses will sacrifice their finances for lavish gifts. Friends and family will even donate organs for their loved ones. What is the biggest possible demonstration of one’s love?
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” -Romans 5:7
Your life. The greatest sacrifice you could ever make for someone is to die for them.
The cross is the ultimate exclamation point of God’s love for us. Often we look at our external circumstances for evidence of His love for us. When we struggle with family tensions, health challenges, financial hurdles, we wonder where is God and if He still loves us. The cross should answer that question finally and sufficiently. What more could God possibly do to show how much he loves us? He gave his perfect, righteous Son to a group of imperfect, unrighteous sinners. More that that, the Father gave His Son as a sacrifice so His enemies could live!
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” -Romans 5:6
“But God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”-Romans 5:10
This is what makes our faith unique and the Gospel truly amazing. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The invitation of the Gospel is not, “get your life together, get cleaned up, then you can come to God.” No, in our sin God pursued us and in our rebellion, Christ died for us. Amazing!
Most people never fully come to grips with their need for grace and thus never fully understand the love of the Father. Many people do not see themselves as enemies of God and that is why the cross of Christ has little significance in their lives. It is true that Satan is the "father of lies" (John 8:44), but we lie to ourselves almost as much as he lies to us. The hardest deceptions to detect are the ways we deceive ourselves about our greatest need for rescuing.
Yet, here is the beautiful truth. Jesus not only saves sinners, He ONLY saves sinners.
“Much more” Kind of love.
And for those who know they are “weak”, “sinners”, “ungodly”, and “enemies” of God before Christ can now rejoice in “much more”.
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be save by him from the wrath of God.” -Romans 5:9
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be save by his life.” -Romans 5:10
“More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” -Romans 5:11
Those who understand Christ died for them while they were still his enemies, can know “how much more” the grace of God is sufficient to forgive, cleanse and safely carry them home!