Posts Tagged God


by Roger Severino  

[vimeo 110025908 w=640 h=360] 
When I was a teenager, my youth pastor gave me a working definition of love that I have used through the years. “Love is sincerely desiring God’s best for another and doing what I can to see that accomplished.” I have found that to be a pretty good summary of biblical love. Here are five things we learn about love from the Bible.

  1. Love is the Essence of What God Requires. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, he referenced two, and they both relate to love. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbor (this does not exclude anyone) as we love ourselves (and the assumption is that we do love and take care of ourselves). What is the essence of our calling and purpose in life? To love well the right things – God and others.
  2. God is Love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that the one who does not love does not know God because God is love. Therefore, when we read the descriptors of love in 1 Corinthians 13 – love is patient, kind, not conceited or selfish, forgives, bears all things, etc. – we get a glimpse of the character of God. Now, it is not accurate to turn this phrase around and say that “love is God,” and then create a god from our notion of what we think love is. In this scenario, you end up with an idol of your own making. But the truth is that the nature of God is love. Jesus shows us the nature and character of God the Father (see John 14:9) and Jesus shows us the nature of love.
  3. We Love Because God First Loved Us (see 1 John 4:19). We don’t have the capacity to love well in our own strength. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun and does not have light in itself, so we too are reflectors of God’s love. That means we must first be willing to receive the love that God has for us in Christ. Once we receive it, we have the opportunity and command to love others. Love initiates. God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were still rebels against Him, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We love because He first loved us.
  4. Love is Sacrificial. How did God demonstrate His love according to Romans 5:8? At great cost! The Bible tells us that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Love is giving and sacrificial. Most of what we see in pop culture that defines love is conditional: “I love you because…”, “I love you if…”, “I love you when…” Love in our world is often an emotion, and often a selfish one. We love when someone benefits us. This is not the essence of God’s love.
  5. Love is a Quality not an Emotion. One of the most radical things Jesus taught His followers was to love their enemies. It is difficult to find this teaching in any of the great ancient philosophies or religions. Godly love initiates and is not dependent on the worthiness of the receiver. Love is a characteristic and quality in the hearts of those who follow Jesus and allow His love to flow through them. How will you love others well today?


by Roger Severino

[vimeo 106430266 w=640 h=360]
When I was in seminary, I was encouraged to develop a working definition of worship that I could modify as needed over time. What I came up with is probably not original to me. Here’s my definition: “Worship is a response to who God is and what He has done for us.” OK, let’s break that down.

  1. “Response.” A response means that worship is the “effect” side of a cause-and-effect relationship. Many of our modern worship songs want to rush us to the “effect” side of the equation without giving proper focus to the “cause.” The lyrics express some feeling of emotion (love, gratitude, awe) without showing us the reason for this type of reaction. We have not yet contemplated who God is nor what He has done for us, and yet we are guided into a response. There is nothing wrong with emotions; at some level, our emotions should be touched by genuine worship. Worship, however, is not merely an emotional catharsis to make us feel better. It’s not about us. God is the focus.
  1. “Who God is.” Idolatry is when we worship something or someone other than the one true God. God is not merely an abstract notion such as Love or Peace. Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8) and we have peace with God through our faith in Christ (Romans 5:1). Yet, when we limit God to one characteristic, we can end up with a God who is love but not holy, or a God who brings peace but not division. When we worship, we need to make sure that we are responding to the God revealed by Jesus Christ and by Holy Scripture, and not merely a God I have made in my own image.
  1. “What He has done for us.” Often, the Psalms offer worship and praise to God by recounting His saving acts, whether reflecting on how God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, or a more personal remembrance of God’s salvation in the life of the psalmist. When we worship God, we too remember all He has done for us. For those of us on this side of salvation history, we reflect on the saving act of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We recount how He raised us from spiritual death to new life in Christ. We tell of the sufficiency of the cross to pay for all our sins and to reconcile us to God. We praise God for the gift of His Spirit who indwells us and empowers us for God’s work in the world. Worship is being appropriately astonished by God’s grace and voicing gratitude and praise. Genuine worship should not merely be an experience but should lead to spiritual transformation.

Finally, worship is not limited to an event (i.e. Sunday morning worship) or to singing.  Worship is much, much greater than a church service or merely singing psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs. Worship is a lifestyle. Offering our lives to God as living sacrifices is perhaps our greatest spiritual act of worship (see Romans 12:1).