The Love of Christ
James Smith, 1865
Nothing is as powerful as love — but it can only influence us through faith. However much a person may love me, it would have no influence except I believe it. Just so it is with sinners. They read of the love of Jesus, they hear of that love — but it does not affect them, just because they do not believe that it applies to them. The love of Jesus is the most wonderful subject known in the universe — and yet it has no influence upon thousands, because they do not believe it. The apostle John could say, "We have known and believed the love which God has to us; God is love." But very few can honestly say this. The Lord Jesus himself said, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life." Paul could say, "The love of Christ constrains us."
Now, suppose the working classes did really believe that the Lord Jesus Christ loved them — that he realized their misery and read their doom — and in order to save them therefrom, took their nature, and died in their stead — must it not powerfully affect them? Would they not hear of him with reverence, think of him with gratitude, trust in him with confidence, speak of him with feeling, and obey him with cheerfulness? Surely they would. If, therefore, they are not affected with the love of Christ — it is because they do not believe it. How important, then, is faith? And if Jesus loves us, if he tells us so in his word, and if he has proved it by dying in our stead, must it not grieve him when we refuse to believe the love which he has to us? Without faith it is impossible to please him; for until we believe him, we treat him as if his word was not worthy of credit, or, to use the apostle's strong language, we "make him a liar."
Reader, if Jesus had no love for you — would he send his servants to warn you, and his witnesses to assure you? And if he has thus proved his love, ought you not to believe it? And if you do not love him, are you not guilty of a great crime? A crime for which you can find no excuse, and for which you can never answer at his judgment-seat where you must appear! What ingratitude to treat his love with contempt! What folly to expose oneself to his wrath for despising his loving word! What criminality must that be which made even the loving Paul to say, "If any man loves not our Lord Jesus Christ — let him be accursed when the Lord comes!"
But if I believe that Jesus loves me — if I receive his precious invitations — if I believe his faithful promises — if I rest upon the truthfulness of his word — have I not enough to make me happy? Suppose my fellow-sinners hate me — suppose their persecute me — suppose they sneer at me — suppose they affect to pity me — what then? If the King of kings loves me — if the Son of God manifests himself to me — all must be well; and he says, "I love those who love me." The love of Jesus is like the rainbow in the cloud in the day of storms — it assures me of safety; it is like the flowing fountain in the dreary desert — it assures me of supply; it is like the bright sun in a dark world — it enlightens, enlivens, and warms me; it is like the harmony of Heaven — brought to cheer the solitude and gloom of earth.
Love of Jesus! fill my heart, occupy my thoughts, feast my intellect, inflame my zeal, animate my hopes, brighten my prospects, and fill me to overflowing with holiness and love to him in return! Reader, I can wish you nothing better than that you may "know the love of Christ which passes knowledge," and so be "filled with all the fullness of God."