We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth (Colossians 1:3-6).

The life of the Christian is characterized by a state of gratitude for the incredible gift of salvation freely given, by God the Father, to those whom He has called through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s also a life on this earth where we are filled with love for all the saints. In fact, in verse 4 the inspired Apostle uses the word agape for “love.”

A little background study will quickly reveal that this is the word for the other-centered, self-sacrificing love used to describe the kind of love God has. The kind that God gave graphic illustration of on the cross when Christ died for the sins of His children. Romans 5:8 explains to us that not only does our Lord tell us of His love – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

And if you’ve been following the Master for some time, you will have noticed immediately the truth of this verse of Scripture, and of our text, as you meet Christians from all walks of life. Total strangers in an earthly sense who, upon God bringing them together, immediately find that there is an incredible bond of this very kind of love–God’s “family” in Christ–as the Holy Spirit witnesses the hope that is stored up within the true children of our gracious Lord. I know this has certainly been happening as Christ brings Apprising Ministries into contact with brothers and sisters from all over the world.

This is why the inspired the Apostle John writes – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8). As you can see, five times in these two verses of Holy Scripture alone John uses “love,” and in every case he uses a form of that Greek word agape – crowned in the amazing revelation that – God is love.

In fact, in his advanced years, when the Apostle could no longer walk, he is said to have been carried into the churches in Ephesus. Those that had this honor talked about how John would continually be saying: “Love one another.” And when asked why, the disciple whom Jesus loved replied, “because our Lord told us to do so.” And sadly, it is such a gross misunderstanding of this other-centered, all self-sacrificing love shown to us by God that is at the root of the satanic perversion of the whole seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement.

One simply cannot turn this love toward self and possibly think that it is coming from God. Our Lord put it this way – If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:46). This is what the Master is talking about; if you “love your neighbor as yourself,” (assumes self-love) and then you love those who love you, then you are acting as any other mere human being.

In contrast however, if you demonstrate the kind of love God shows, then your love will be turned outward, and away from self, to freely give this love away. So now you can see why the self-centered Christianity-Lite that has become so common place within evangelicalism today is clearly not the agape love that Paul is talking about in our text.

May we ask the Lord to help all of us who are His true children to be willing to do whatever it takes for us to see that all over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, by each of us walking in love as family through our faith in Christ Jesus. And as we do, the world will see manifest of the love [we] have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven.