Becoming love. It’s a great idea. We’ve done our best to unpack the what and how but such concepts can be really hard to grasp. We’ve address some of the why, but really why? Why should we become love?
For that, let’s go back to the beginning of 1 John 4.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”1 Jn 4:1-3
If you can remember back to the beginning, belief that Jesus was God in the flesh is paramount to John. It’s actually critical to the gospel itself. Paul echoes the same truth: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col 1:15)
Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus made an invisible God tangible. No longer is God an entirely transcendent idea, but because of Jesus we have a pretty good concept of who God is and what God is like.
In Acts 17, Paul was making an argument to some of the leading philosophers in Athens. He starts by talking about the religiosity of the people and points out an “unknown god” that they people worshipped and starts to explain the real God who made the world and everything in it, who doesn’t live in temples humans built, is not served by humans because he doesn’t need anything. But, he is the giver of life and everything. He made all people and decided when and where they would live and rule.
He did all this for a reason – so they would seek Him, reach out for Him and find Him because He is not far away from any one of us. “For in Him we live and move and have our being” which is actually a quote from a philosopher.
Then he says, we are his offspring, or His children. So, we shouldn’t think that God is an idol made out of gold or stone, an image that a human being made. A day will come when God is going to judge people who worship images made by people instead of worshipping the one who made people in His image.
He finished by talking about Jesus, who was raised from the dead. The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead is proof that He is “The man” God has appointed.
Okay, what’s with all the talk about Paul and idols and the man and judgement? What does any of this have to do with becoming love?
Well, first, John ends his letter with the statement: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 Jn 5:21) So there must be a connection between idolatry, becoming love and the incarnation of Jesus.
And there is.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”2 Cor 3:18
We have said already that love transforms and love led Jesus to transform from being the word of God to becoming a created thing. In fact, the sinless one became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. Well that verse (2 Col. 5:21) is preceded by the other famous verse: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…”
Jesus was transformed from word to flesh, he was also transformed on the Mt of transfiguration. He was transformed from sinless to being sin for us. Life went through death then was resurrected. Then he got a new body and ascended back to Heaven where he remains in his new transformed human body.
Why should we become love?
Because, that’s why Jesus died. Jesus didn’t die just to save us from Hell. Jesus died to transform us into His image. Just like He was the image of the invisible God, we are being transformed into His image. We are becoming like Christ. At least we’re supposed to.
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” The danger with idol worship, with being saturated by the salty sea we are sailing in is that we start to be transformed into the image of the corrosive culture instead of into the image of God.
I don’t know if we will ever understand the great lengths God went to show His love for us. No other god has done that, nor could they. Only the one true God could become a created thing.
But so much of the time our focus is on created things instead of the creator. We worship them. No, we don’t think we do. But, whatever consumes our time and attention is what we worship. So, like it or not, we worship many created things. We have many idols in our lives and we are becoming like them.
Romans 1:25 tells us the we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served created thing rather than the creator. We exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images…”
Becoming love requires us to be obsessed with the right things. Why should we be obsessed with God rather than all the millions of lights distracting us right now? Because God so loved us. God SO loved us that He gave his one and only son who would face death for us so that we wouldn’t have to, but so we could receive God’s free gift of eternal life.
We need to be careful about the images we’re becoming. We need to refocus our obsessions and become people who worship God so much that we start to become like Him. Because we become like what we worship. That’s a universal principle. If we want to become love, we have to worship the God who is love. We have to worship “The Man” whom God sent to be his visible representative of love on this earth. That’s the only way to become love.
But there’s one more reason we should become love. There’s one more why. We are supposed to become love, we’re supposed to be transformed by God’s love so that we can be ambassadors of God’s love. We are supposed to become love delegates. We are supposed to worship God so much that it transforms us to our very core. Why? So that God can make His appeal through us. God will not make His appeal through a false image. He could. And even though some day we are told that the rocks are going to cry out, and maybe even some day all the idols humans have created will cry out in worship of the one true God, God has chosen to make His appeal through us.
We should become love, we should become the kind of love that sacrifices itself for the good of others so that others who are destined for destruction can receive God’s free gift of life. And God has chosen us to do that. He has chosen you and me to love one another in such a way that people see our love and are drawn to God.
In other words we should worship God because God so loved us that He gave us His son. And we should love others because God is relying on our transformation from darkness to light, from selfishness to selflessness so that others who are worshipping created things can join us in worshiping the one true creator who is forever praised!