Love wins, really, it does. But how does love win? That is the question that requires an answer.
Lately, there has been considerable controversy about God's love and what it means when we say "love wins." Some suggest that love wins by finally overlooking one's lack of response to God's redemptive offer of grace. Others may suggest that love wins because prevenient grace is enough; love ignores a person's unwillingness to submit to the call of God to live a righteous and holy life.
Such interpretations are alien assumptions that greatly diminish the suffering of our Lord, and the power of God's love. They inherently reduce grace and love to an alibi or excuse for bad behavior. We do not accept that understanding of God's love.
In Romans 3:21-26, the Bible declares that the righteousness of God once had been displayed by the law but now it has been revealed through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ's death and resurrection make it possible for God to be "just [demonstrating his holiness and righteousness] and the justifier [demonstrating his love] of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26, NASB).
Love wins because love overcomes sin. Love wins as a person's life is transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
The Church of the Nazarene belongs to the mission of making Christlike disciples, Christlikeness is holiness. The love of God forgives and transforms us. God's love makes us into new creations and delivers us from the power of sin and death. The Apostle Paul wrote:
"But where sin increased grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death even so grace [love] would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20-21, NASB).
Love wins because Christ has won.
Love wins because it sets us free from the tyranny of sin.
Love wins because it transforms us into the likeness of Christ.
Love wins because it enthrones Christ as Lord of our lives.
Love wins because it reorders the way we live life.
Love really does win.
She came forward to pray on an Easter Sunday. It was her first time in church for many years. In the course of my message I talked about God's power to make one's life different. I shared that in the suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's redeeming, transforming love has been made available to all of us. I said that no one is beyond the reach of God's love.
After she prayed for a while, I introduced myself to her. I then asked her why she came forward. She replied, "I don't really know. You said in your message that if a person wanted life to be different they should come forward and pray. I want my life to be different." We continued to pray until she had a sense that God's love covered her past - that Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection had indeed made it possible for her to receive new life.
As she lifted her eyes to my wife, Patty, and me, it was evident that God had answered her prayer. She told us later that she was a dancer at a local strip club and shared other challenges in her life. Drugs, alcohol, and an abusive live-in boyfriend all complicated her world.
God did not call her to repentance and faith on that Easter Sunday morning to help her manage her life. Rather, God called her to repentance and faith to give her a new life! He liberated her from the guilt and shame of the past and gave her new life. We call that regeneration.
She gave up drugs, turned away from alcohol, and moved out of the relationship with her boyfriend. Both of them eventually went to federal prison for selling drugs. Our church family took her in, helped her find a job (held it for her while she served her time in prison), and encouraged her as she began to live a new life. People went to see her in prison.
This is the love that wins!
Second Corinthians 5:17 puts it this way: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he [she] is a new creature, the old things passed away, behold, new things have come." (NASB)
Love wins - God's love wins!
J. K. Warrick is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.