For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting lifeJohn 3:16
Established, it is because of God’s love that we are saved. If God didn’t love us, we may have been doomed for eternal damnation. But He, through His love, showed us mercy and sent Jesus to die for us, while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). But you know one amazing thing about the love of God? It’s that it doesn’t just present to us salvation, it also helps us remain saved. The love of God saved us while we were still sinners but it doesn’t stop there. It transforms us from sinners into saints.
For me, this is one of the greatest miracles of salvation: its transforming effect. The transforming effect of God’s love explains how a chronic sinner could become a fervent evangelist or how a Christian persecutor could become a great apostle of Christ. This love transforms so greatly that someone as dangerous as Apostle Paul –in his earlier days –could boldly testify that he is void of offense before God and man (Acts. 24:16).
One person who was transformed by the love of God is Zaccheus. He was a tax collector. Jews believed tax collectors to be sinners and worse, traitors. By implication, a tax collector was hated and considered an outcast. But Jesus showed him, love, visited him at home, and even ate with him. Other people were unhappy about this. However, in the end, we see how Zaccheus repented of his deeds and even gave back in multiple folds all that he had collected from the people. The love of Jesus transformed him into a better version of himself. (Luke 19:1-10)
We have this same privilege, maybe even on a better level. Because now Jesus doesn’t just show us, love, by visiting us, He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. And it is this same Spirit that births a transformation in us. However, to experience the rebirth and transformation of God’s love, just like Zaccheus did, you must allow it. God doesn’t force Himself on anyone. Until we open our hearts to allow the love of God to permeate our hearts and mind, changing our worldly nature to a heavenly one, we would never experience transformation. Until we welcome Jesus into the home of our hearts, we would not experience the transformative power of his love. (Rom 5:5; Rev. 3:20)
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Rom 5:5 NIV
How does God’s love transform?
The love of God brings us to true repentance, that is, for those who absorb themselves into that love. The other week, we talked about how that love brings us victory over sin and this is it. When we truly appreciate the love of God, the only response is to replicate that love; in doing so, we keep His commandments. This makes us less sinful and more saintly. (John 14:15)
God’s love transforms us from being fearful to being fearless. The scripture tells us that perfect love casts out fear (1 Jhn. 4:18). God’s love for us is perfect. It is why Apostle Paul could say without any fear that to live is for Christ and to die for Him is gain (Php. 1:21). The perfect love of God which he had absorbed himself into transformed whatever fear of death or persecution he had into fearlessness.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.1 John 4:18 NIV
Needless to say, the love of God helps us love those around us. Many people who find it hard to love have never really experienced love from other people around them. But for believers, we do not find it hard to love because Christ first loved us (1 Jhn. 4:19). Even when we have lived a great part of our lives in bitterness and hatred for people, an experience of God’s love transforms us into people not just capable of accepting love but of dispensing it as well. This is how a once troublesome brother or quarrelsome sister becomes an ambassador for peace and love.
We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19 NIV
God doesn’t give us a taste of His love and leave us panting for more. He gives us His love freely such that we have it in abundance and can even spread it to those around us. So when that love takes residence in our hearts and minds, it transforms our thoughts. We no longer harbour evil desires to kill or steal or do whatever, even though we have known no other path than that. His love makes us live more honourably and in accordance with His will because our actions are birthed from a mind filled with love. (Rom. 5:5)
Nevertheless, this transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, some people find it easier to let go of their former lifestyle upon experiencing the love of God through their faith in Jesus. However, the truth is that more people have a gradual process. Here’s the good news: the transformative power of God’s love in a believer is a gradual but SURE process. No one who lives in the love of God misses it. (1 John 4:16)