In practical terms, how do we learn to love others as Christ loves us? John writes, “Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:3-6).
At first glance you may think, “But I thought Jesus loved them — why would he not rush to help?” In fact, maybe you have asked that question many times regarding your own life. “Why aren’t You answering my prayers, Lord? Why is my situation still the same? Where are You, Lord? I need You now!”
God’s love is agape love — it’s a love that gives people what God knows is necessary in the situation and brings about God’s greater purpose and his glory. In this situation with Lazarus, Jesus did not tarry because he didn’t love him or care that he would die. Jesus waited because there was a higher purpose at work — the glorifying of God and the witness to all those around that he was the Messiah, the very Redeemer for whom they had so desperately been looking to come for decades.
Now, that’s amazing! Lazarus had to die for the glory of God to be revealed in and through his life. When we love people the way God loves us, we have a deep inner trust in God that no matter what they are going through, the Lord is in control of the situation and will be glorified.
Agape love moves to treat people with understanding and compassion, not compulsion. If I love you, there’s a time to speak, and there’s a time to be silent. There’s a time to have an opinion and there’s a time to say nothing. There’s a time to let the Holy Spirit say, “The door is not open; don’t speak in this situation.”
We need to trust God with those we love by putting them into his hands, entrusting them to him, no matter what it looks like to our eyes. God will call these people at the appropriate time out of the grave of their experience. True love — God’s love working in and through us — has this ability.
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.