Posted by Dan Minor

My mind has been BLOWN!  Is it really this simple?  Does all of the theology and debates and strife get fixed with this one statement?  Is love really the answer?

First, you have to realize that people that are not loved or who don’t feel loved have some common characteristics.  These symptoms are especially prevalent in the church.  Many people who are unloved exhibit the following:

-Depression
-low self worth
-A need to make everyone else seem less than
-Anger
-Gossip and backbiting
-Exclusiveness
-Extreme care about the opinions of others
-Feeling like you are always disappointing God and others
-Feeling like you don’t measure up
-Feeling like you have to perform or earn God’s affection

You may have heard the saying, “hurt people, hurt people”.  The idea of this is that if you have been hurt, you are more likely to hurt other people and that the most offensive and difficult people are usually operating out of an overflow of their own disappointments and difficulties.

The opposite of this truth is that #LovedPeopleLovePeople .  When you have been loved, you love.  1 John 4:19 19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” The Message bible puts it this way, “We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.”

God’s love is unconditional and isn’t a response to our love for Him!  

His love is what incites the riot of passion in our heart to love the world around us.  We often times try to do the “right thing” and love people because we think it is a part of our “duty” as believers.  This brand of love is so stale and contrived and the people that God has called us to love can taste the expiration date and lack of authenticity.  When they reject our half-hearted, ill motivated attempts at showing them God’s love, we chalk it up to the condition of their heart or the Godless culture we live in.  WHAT?  The problem is not the attack on traditional marriage or “Democrats” or the liberal Hollywood “agenda”.  The problem is you…us….the church….and our inability and insufficiency to offer an authentic brand of love that is drawn from a full well of fresh water.

Once we admit that we have, at times, failed the mission and mishandled our opportunities than we can get honest enough with God to open our hearts to letting Him show us through experience what authentic love feels like.

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesians 2:4-8But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together [b]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

There is nothing specific about your life or actions that makes God love you.  He loves you because you are his son or daughter.  

Sonship and understanding the father’s love starts with the realization that you can’t earn love.

You can earn trust from a person.  You can give and earn respect.  You can win someones affection.  You can’t earn love.  It is always a gift, whether we receive it or give it.  There are no conditions upon us to receive God’s love. Nothing we say or do can make Him love us less.

Often times it is our own conditions that we have put on God’s love for us that pollutes our capacity to love others well.  We put the same conditions on them as we think God has for us.

If we will remove those conditions and walk into a greater personal experience with His love, we will love others authentically, without striving from a place of obligation and guilt.

This is the heart and soul of who The Harvest Sarasota is as a church and family.  This is our 2015 New Year’s Resolution.  We want to discover His love so we might bring others into the same encounter through our lives.  The people in our beautiful city of Sarasota are longing for an encounter with something that is tangible and authentic.  We are determined in 2015 to make the difference and truly transform this city with the power of love.

Will you join us in this New Years Resolution?  If so, please comment below, share this with your friends, and use the hashtag #LovedPeopleLovePeople.