I’ve started reading “The Man Who Listens To Horses”, by Monty Roberts. What Roberts learned about communicating with and cooperating with horses – even wild mustangs – is that the key is love. Love of horses caused Monty to get to know them and learn their language to an amazing degree. Which, by the way, is a mild version of what God did for us.
Horses can’t speak any human language, so a human had to learn and speak their language. That involved many hours of studying wild mustangs in their natural environment. It wouldn’t have happened if a human had not taken the initiative. God created us, so He didn’t have to study us. But as the Bible says,
” … ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’ ” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We are no more capable of understanding God on our own than wild mustangs, or any horse, is capable of understanding human ways. So God took the initiative and “demonstrated His love for us” – not only did He send His Son to earth to become a human and tell us about God’s ways and thoughts, He let His Son be killed in our place and take the penalty for our sins on Himself, so we can join Him in Heaven when we leave this life – IF and ONLY if we place our faith in Jesus. “For God so LOVED the world …”
Love is the key that unlocks everything good. Love is the necessary, absolutely essential, ingredient for personal happiness, for prosperity, for peace on earth.
By “love”, I don’t mean gooey, supersweet, idiot-smiley, touchy-feely, kumbaya, give-the-world-a-Coke emotion that ignores reality. And not the common misapplication of the word to mean lust. 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 is the ultimate definition of love. Here are those verses from the Amplified Bible, the “full-spectrum” version:
“Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].”
That last verse is so important it bears repeating: Love never fails. What that really means is that love never quits.
Two other statements can be made about love:
Love doesn’t make sense: No, it doesn’t. Why give your time, your effort, your treasure, to other people? Or to animals? What will happen to you if you are suddenly in need or danger and you can’t take care of yourself because you gave away the means to do?
Living according to the standard of love in this life means that you will be disappointed, hurt, betrayed, taken advantage of … far better (or is it?) to be the one who takes advantage, who steals treasure or credit, who steps on others to get where he wants to be. Or so it seems.
Love isn’t stupid: But that’s only the superficial view of love. Those who take that view are not to be trusted, not worthy of love or honor, never a true friend. They are sand in the gears. A destructive influence. Because society has to have love to function. If society doesn’t operate on a significant degree of love, before long it devolves into either tyranny or anarchy. We are seeing that now in what used to be America. Few can be trusted, and every structure of society is beginning to break down.
But if you live according to love and a significant percentage of the population doesn’t, you are what wildlife biologists call “prey”. Massad Ayoob, a very experienced police officer, called criminals “Feral Man” and pointed out that when you thwart their criminal activities, they become genuinely angry, because they look at the rest of us as prey species, and they think they have a right to prey on us, just as animal predators “have a right” to kill and eat prey species. And there are some who are just plain not to be trusted. So if you live according to love, you have to adjust your beautiful vision a little to take these things into account. Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six; that sort of thing.
But in the end, what difference will it make? This difference: there is a God Who judges all humans. And as the Battle Hymn of the Republic says, “He is sifting out the hearts of men before the Judgment Seat…”
Is it worth it? Remember these lines from “The Rose”?
“When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong…”
Is it worth it, when love brings only pain?
Yes, it is. Because there is a God Who is waiting for something only He knows “to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.” (Daniel 9:25)
There is a Redeemer Whose sacrifice makes it possible for God to help us live according to love. You are known to God. Whether the world takes advantage of you or not, whether your friends betray you or not, whether your family and friends abandon you or not, God sees you clearly. If you struggle to live by love, to be righteous, to be holy, He sees, and He will reward you. And He will help you, if you will accept His help. There is another life coming, which will make the evil of this world pass out of mind like a bad dream.
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1st John 2:17)
If you didn’t get an invitation to the first Creation (neither did I) you do have an invitation to the second Creation:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ ” (Revelation 21:1-5)
But remember: speaking to those who had placed their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and the transformation of themselves into children of God – “See what great LOVE the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God … All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure.” (From 1st John chapter 3)