Who would you swap lives with for twenty-four hours?
We began our series on love this week by exploring several verses in the Bible that describe the love God has for us. We learned that God’s love requires both faith and sacrifice and that His love surpasses all understanding.
1 John 4:9-10, 15-16; Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 3:17-19; Luke 15:1-7
Read each of the Scripture passages referenced above out loud one at a time. What did each passage say? What did you hear? Try to repeat what you heard. (Others in your group can help you along the way.)
What does this passage tell us about God, Jesus or his plan?
What does this passage tell me about people?
What does this passage tell me about myself? What am I doing well? What do I need to change? If this is God’s word for my life, how will I obey it?
Who needs to hear this story, and how can I tell them? Who am I going to tell?
I love traveling, tacos, reading and sunshine. I love chai tea lattes, Korean dramas and gel pens. I love my children, my friends and my family. And I really really love crème brûlée (especially when it’s made by someone else).
We throw the word ‘love’ around in our culture on a pretty regular basis but do we truly understand what real love is? We say we want to experience real love but are we ready to receive it?
Most of us have experienced a love that touched deep inside us that we couldn’t explain. It may have been a romantic love, or the birth of a child, or a friendship that you were able to be vulnerable in. Most of us have also experienced the pain that followed when that relationship ended, or a child closed the door on us, or the trust in our friendship was betrayed. It’s easy to end up believing that opening up regardless of the outcome isn’t worth it. We hold our arms out to create a safe buffer zone between our hearts and anyone else. We keep our troubles to ourselves so that no one can use that against us. We build up walls so fortified that when someone dares to even hint that they care about us, we scoff and immediately doubt their words. Because who wants to be hurt like that again?
I was in my twenties with two kids doing the whole financially challenged single mom thing when I met a man through mutual friends. When he asked me out I simply looked at him and explained, “You don’t want to date me.” My life was complicated and busy. I had two jobs, a hateful ex, and was trying to parent when I didn’t know how. It just seemed too exhausting to invest in someone that was only going to walk away from this chaos anyway.
But he didn’t go away.
I’d find little gifts on my porch that were practical and helpful. A package of diapers one night, some groceries for a simple meal a few nights later. He never pushed me or demanded anything more than what I could give. He simply wanted the opportunity to care for me.
That’s exactly what God wants you to experience, too – His care, His love. He will not grow weary of caring for you. He will not get tired of you, lose his feelings for you, decide it’s not you but Him and that he needs to move on to loving someone better. He loves you. Right now where you stand, with your 30 extra pounds, your financial debt, your previous failure in relationships. He loves you in your questioning and doubt and guardedness. He loves you with your humiliating past, your horrible decisions and your insecurities. When you tell Him that He doesn’t want to waste His time on you, He says, over and over, that you are exactly who He wants to spend His time with.
Do you feel uncomfortable receiving love from others?
Have you decided that you’re getting by just fine on your own?
Do you waver between accepting love and rejecting it because you want to feel loved, but you don’t want to get hurt again?
How willing are you to make loving sacrifices in your relationships with others right now? How does that affect the way you see and receive love?
God didn’t just say He loved us, he showed us in the most sacrificial, undeserved way – by sending His perfect son, Jesus, to die on the cross. God showed us that true love is more than just emotion or sentiment. True love is intentional and action-oriented. When we intentionally take time to explore and try to understand the depth of love Jesus has for us, we free ourselves to love each other in that
same sacrificial and intentional kind of way.
Why is it important that we find the definition of love in the cross rather than somewhere else?
Is there any situation in your life right now that is causing you to question the love of God?
Do you find yourself more loving or more critical and judgmental of others right now? How can you reconnect with the love of God in Christ this week?
Do you want to experience real love? What are you waiting for?