"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God".
It's puzzled me for the last few months of struggling with depression - if love drove the Son of God to Calvary and if love motivated God in His grand salvation plan then why does it sometimes seem so hard to experience and encounter that love? There is no doubting the abundant love of God - so therefore the problem must be on our side.
Then I was just cooking in the kitchen and this song by Cheryl Cole came on; "Fight for this Love";
"Anything that's worth having, sure enough worth fighting for.
Quitting's out of the question - when it gets tough, gotta fight some more".
The verse from Jude 20, 21; "Keep yourself in the love of God" really seems to tie in with this song. Why would Jude write; "Keep yourself in the love of God" - if effort at times were not implied? Matthew Henry in his wonderful commentary writes;
"[1.] "Keep up the grace of love to God in its lively vigorous actings and exercises in your souls.'' [2.] "Take heed of throwing yourselves out of the love of God to you, or its delightful, cheering, strengthening manifestations; keep yourselves in the way of God, if you would continue in his love.''
Henry writes; "Take heed of throwing yourselves OUT of the love of God". So it is possible to throw ourselves out of God's love? This is clearly not a passive thing and as Cheryl Cole sings - if it's worth having, then it's worth fighting for! So that's all well and good. How then do we "DO" it?
1. Look to the greatest demonstration ever seen of God's love to us - the Cross of Calvary.
"My hearer, whensoever thy soul is clouded, turn thou to these wounds which shine like a constellation of five bright stars. Look not to thine own wounds, nor to thine own pains, or sins, or prayers, or tears, but remember that "with his stripes we are healed." Gaze, then; intently gaze, upon thy Redeemer's wounds it thou wouldest find comfort".
Later in the sermon he calls it; "study much the story of your Saviour's death". In another sermon, C H Spurgeon said;
"He did not die because he must; he died because he would. The only "must" that came upon him was a necessity of all-conquering love".
But that's not all. It can't be all - because if it was then why would we need anything but a detailed account (which we have) of the events of Calvary? Why would the Holy Spirit be poured out at Pentecost if there was not some divine plan to make all this experiential - the word that conservative reformed religious types love to hate?
2. Drink deep of the Holy Spirit who makes all this real.
"Let us try to abide under the influence of the Holy Spirit. To than end, let us think very reverently of him. Some never think of him at all. How many sermons there are without even an allusion to him! Shame on the preachers of such discourses! If any hearers come without praying for the Holy Spirit, shame on such hearers! We know and we confess that he is everything to our spiritual life; then why do we not remember him with greater love, and worship him with greater honour, and think of him continually with greater reverence?".
Incredible - whole conferences are still held without mention or experience of the Holy Spirit. May it never be true of us.