“The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son.” John 1:14 (TEV)
The love of God is intimate and personal.
He came up-close in Christ, and that means we cannot hide our imperfections and faults from him. He knows about them anyway.
This model from God means we need to love each other intimately and personally, looking past the faults and weaknesses of one another, seeing the handiwork of God in each one of us, knowing that we also have weaknesses and faults but that God is active in our lives, too.
When we know and believe that God is determined to love us no matter what, we can stop being concerned about our faults and conform to Christ instead of our fears (Romans 12:2). When we don’t believe that God loves us no matter what, we try to put on masks that make us look perfect in order to hide our faults. When we try to hide behind masks, we undermine God’s plan that we live together in transparent, loving communities, such as small groups.
The reality is, God’s love is perfect, and he wants to cover our faults with Jesus Christ.
God goes beyond merely diagnosing our problems or judging our faults (Psalm 103:10); instead, he steps forward to address the areas of our lives that are broken:
• Into our emptiness, he brings fullness and completion (Colossians 2:9-10).
• Into our deficit, he brings supply (Philippians 4:19).
• Into our death, he brings life (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
• Into our separation, he brings reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11).
• Into our imperfect love, he brings perfect love (1 John 4:10).
The more we’re conscious of God’s love, the less self-conscious we become about ourselves. We spend less time and energy looking to appear perfect and have a life where everything is exactly the way we want it to be; instead, we invest more time and energy pouring ourselves into other people, who, along with us, make an imperfect community, but one infused with God’s love.
A passion to obey God doesn’t come naturally. Salvation may spark love and a desire to please Him, but a passionate fire is built slowly from the timbers of spiritual knowledge, faith, and devotion.
Obedience usually begins with a fear of the consequences of disobeying. That is, newer believers can at least enjoy the safety of avoiding repercussions until they develop better reasons to follow God. Thankfully, as we mature and build a scriptural foundation, fear is replaced by both recognition of God’s sovereignty and submission to His wisdom.
Over time, following the Lord becomes less about consequences for disobeying and more about blessings for obeying. Once we taste His goodness, we learn that obedience and God’s best are natural partners—good derives from following divine commands, while suffering results when we demand our own way. This irrevocable principle plays out in the Bible as well as in day-to-day life, and the more we observe it, the more we realize the Lord’s will is the wisest choice.
All the promised blessings in the world cannot make a believer follow God into some frightening places. But that’s where love for our Father comes in, as it compels us toward obedience no matter what is at stake.
16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.