“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).
It is so reassuring to know that God is Love; to know that our Creator, Saviour, Provider and Determiner, is Love; to know that Love is our cause, purpose, protection, and weapon is reason to rejoice and be grateful.
Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life says, “You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God”; that can be transposed to read, “You exist only because Love wills that you exist. You were made by Love and for Love”.
Join the KMMC 24/7 prayer action
The Karoo MMC 24/7 prayer action starts on Friday 8th April at 6pm, and runs for three weeks until the start of the Karoo MMC. This involves taking one three hour prayer session per week from wherever you are via Whatsapp or a Facebook group. We also have live interactive audio ‘power hour’ prayer sessions via the Zello app. If you would like to be part of either of these, simply send an email to email@example.com, indicating what you would like to be involved in.
Of course, we are talking about love in its most graceful, all-embracing, giving, forgiving, sacrificial, inclusive, powerful, infinite, eternal, glorious form, which is without condition and is Spirit, not the material-carnal love of the world that is finite and mostly about exclusivity, ownership, receiving, appetite, consuming, and conditions.
We are talking about Divine Love, love so perfect, so holy, and so heavenly that He gave Himself, who was without sin, in sacrifice to wipe away the sins of a corrupt, immoral, fallen and unfaithful world.
1 John 4 goes on to say in verses 9-10, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”.
The problem of accepting God’s love for us
We have a love relationship with God and are challenged to extend that relationship of love to one another.
However, the problem is that most of us don’t understand, nor have we experienced, the extent of God’s love for us. I include myself among this group– I don’t really know how to accept God’s unconditional love, which is the reason I don’t extend love unconditionally.
Yet, God’s love is only available to us by His grace; there is nothing we can do to earn His love. God loves us despite all our faults and weaknesses, He offers us His love as a gift; all we have to do is to accept His love and in accepting it we will be able to extend it.
Angus Buchan describes God’s love as relentless – He continues to love us no matter if we haven’t learned to accept His love. God’s love is unstoppable, unchangeable and inevitable, for God is love.
We need to pray for a revelation of God’s awesome love, so that we can extend it to others and shine as lights for God’s Kingdom in the darkness of this world.
That is what the Karoo Mighty Men Conference 2016 (KMMC 2016) is essentially about: revealing the infinite nature of the Love of God so that we can extend it through our thoughts, words and deeds, to our family, neighbours, congregations, communities and country – unconditionally, not only to those parts that agree with us, or only the clean and good parts, but also to those that have harmed us and disagree with us.
Luke 6:35 tells us to “. . . love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”.
Our challenge is to follow the example of Jesus Christ, our Saviour who loves us despite our imperfections, despite the fact that we shared in the cause of his horrific beating, humiliation, being spat on, whipped so badly that pieces of his skin were torn from his body, then nailed by His hands and feet to a cross to die an agonising death in front of jeering spectators . . . yet, still He loved us, forgave us, and died for us, so that we could be reconciled with His Beloved Father, Our Father, Love.
This is our calling, to follow Jesus’ example, His way of love and forgiveness.
I think the closest we get to the type of love that Jesus revealed is the love that we have for our children in which we provide, protect, guide, teach, set an example, and love despite their faults or disobedience. We love our children simply because they are.
Love is such an important part of being a follower of Jesus that when asked, “which is the first commandment of all”, Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength’.
This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this. ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)
“There is no other commandment greater than these”, makes it absolutely clear as to how great the consequence of love is; how essential love is to being a disciple of Jesus, especially in this time of uncertainty regarding the South Africa’s socio-political conditions in which many people are despondent, because of widespread corruption and unachieved racial reconciliation.
The challenge of extending God’s love
In these uncertain, turbulent times we are challenged to extend the love of God to our thoughts, words and actions wherever we may be and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
We are challenged to be love for, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away”. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
But, love will remain (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Love will endure and we can begin to extend this positive, persevering Jesus-love through prayer and intercession in the same way that Jesus continues to intercede for us to this day.
Francis Frangipane reminds us that Jesus’ love is a conquering, surmounting love that is vital to our role in God’s army.
He says that we should not forget that living on earth we live in a war zone between good and evil and that it is through our love that we overcome evil as prayer warriors.
In his book This Day We Fight, Frangipane says: “No matter how beautiful or even innocent the world around us seems at times, remember there was a serpent in Paradise itself. If Adam and Eve had possessed a war mode mentality, they never would have casually accepted the lies of Lucifer. Likewise today, we need to be wise and walk carefully, for ‘the days are evil’ (Eph. 5:16).
“You see, Jesus was always aware that He lived in a war zone. No matter what He was doing — whether He was laughing with sinners or driving out demons, whether He was healing the sick or training followers — beneath the surface of His outer activities, the “war mode switch” in Jesus’ mind was always on,” says Frangipane.
He says we are involved in “love motivated warfare” that is conducted through prayer and intercession.
Frangipane says that most of the heroes we read about in the Scriptures are men who stood in the gap, who prayed like Abraham and the other prophets did.
War and love
“You see, the war mode is in us all. It may be attached to our instinct for survival, but it is more directly connected with our love. I love my nation, so I am warring in prayer on its behalf. Because of love for my family, I war in prayer on their behalf. I love my church, my city and, yes, even my own soul, so I war to protect what I love.
“If there is a natural fight instinct, there is a spiritual fight mode as well. It just needs to be awakened, submitted to Christ, and then unleashed against the enemy.
“Beloved, if you have a love mode, you also have a war mode. God has created the war mode so we can protect the people we love,” says Frangipane.
In this time of tribulation when the distinction between right and wrong has become blurred and righteous values are being eroded, undermined, disregarded, disparaged, marginalised and even ridiculed, we are called to stand-up boldly as love-motivated prayer warriors on the frontline of the war for good against evil, interceding for our families, communities and countries and praying for our leaders, those in authority, and even our enemies, entreating God’s Kingdom to come, God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
If we want to play a role in the transformation of South Africa it is important that we utilise prayer as our weapon of Holy-Spirit-driven transformation of not only our country, but ourselves and the people, conditions and world around us.
However, prayer is a weapon that requires us to get down onto our knees in humility, in worship, and in acknowledgement of our dependence on the Lord God Almighty’s mercy and grace, grateful for His relentless and enduring love.