After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
What comes to mind when you think of the word love?
Take a second to reflect on any memories, words, or images that you associate with love. The world has much to say about love. Between Valentine’s Day products filling the aisles, engagement ring commercials on TV, and romantic movies, we are constantly being told what to think. And it’s not hard to listen to what the world has to offer.
It’s easy to think of love simply as an emotion, as that light, airy feeling described in Hallmark cards. However, love must not remain as simply an emotion if it is to truly be love. Love must be made manifest:
- A husband’s love for his wife is made manifest in the flowers that he brings her, in the words of encouragement he offers, and in him dying to himself in doing chores.
- A friend’s love for his or her friend is made manifest in picking up medicine from the store when they’re sick, in praying with them when they’re worried, and in playing board games together.
- A parent’s love for their children is made manifest in changing diapers, making meals, and teaching them the way to walk in the Lord.
Love is so much more than an emotion—It must be made manifest.
This is also true as we reflect on the love of God. His love wasn’t just a warm feeling towards us. His love was made manifest in the life and death of Jesus.
God’s Love Made Manifest in Life
thisthe love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the World,so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)
God’s love for you was made manifest in sending his Son into the world, in the form of human flesh, as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
God’s love is seen when his Word became flesh (John 1:1), when all his promises found their yes (2 Corinthians 1:20), and we could join with the heavenly host in singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
In Jesus, God’s love is no longer simply an idea to grasp. His love is flesh and bones, a baby born of a virgin. God with us. In Jesus’ birth, we see God’s love made manifest among us. He gave us the gift of his Son so that we might have life.
But this is not the only way God’s love was made manifest.
God’s Love Made Manifest in Death
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
God’s love for us was made manifest in sending his Son to be the propitiation for our sins—the sacrifice that turned away God’s wrath. It was manifest in Jesus being mocked, whipped, scorned, and, ultimately, crucified on the cross.
Jesus’s love wasn’t an empty promise. It wasn’t fluff to make the disciples feel better. It wasn’t intended to be turned into self-help motivation. His love was in every whip on his back, every step on his journey to Calvary, and every nail driven into his body.
Though we were God’s enemies, he did not desire for any of us to perish. Though we rebelled against God, he took the punishment we deserved. And though we are sinful in our very nature, he made a way for us to return to him.
In Jesus’s death, we see God’s love made manifest among us. He gave up his life so that we could be forgiven.
God’s Love Made Manifest in Us
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)
Just as God’s love is more than an emotion towards his people, our love towards others must be more than an emotion. Our love must be made manifest in life and in death.
Our love must be made manifest in sharing life with others. We are called to a life filled with the fellowship of the believers. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. And, we
Just as Jesus was physically present with his followers, let us also be physically present with our brothers and sisters in Christ through every season.
Our love must also be made manifest in dying to ourselves. We are called to take up our cross daily. We are called to consider others more significant than ourselves. And, we are called to present our bodies as a living sacrifice.
Just as Jesus laid down his life for his sheep, let us also lose our lives for the sake of the gospel. And in our love being made manifest, let it always point to the love of Jesus, made manifest in both His life and death.
Father in Heaven, you are so loving and so kind.
We do not deserve your love, yet you still sent your son to live a sinless life and die on the cross in our place. We praise you because your love is so much greater than what we see depicted in the world. Your love is better than life itself.
As we reflect on your love made manifest, help us to live in light of these truths. Help us to manifest our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for our friends, family, and neighbors. And in all that we do, help us magnify Christ.