God is no man’s debtor. The idea that many people have of suffering for Christ and missing out on so much in order to please God is a caricature concocted by Satan. It is certain that no one, when it comes time to die, regrets having missed out on worldly pleasures or treasures or honors as a result of serving God. And how can even those who have lost position or possessions, have been tortured, imprisoned, or killed because of their faith hold any regret that an eternal reward awaits them? Paul reminds us:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (Romans:8:18; 2 Corinthians:4:17)
We know that as His bride we ought to long to be with Christ, and we are sorry that we don’t love His appearing as we should. How can we reawaken our love for Him? First of all, we need to remember that love is not merely a sentiment that sweeps over us and which is beyond our control. Marriages are breaking up among Christians because husband or wife claims no longer to love the other and often has “fallen in love” with someone else. This is not love at all, but a Hollywood-inspired counterfeit.
Love involves unshakable commitment of oneself to another—thus it involves not just emotions but an act of the will. Christ is our example, and husbands are to love their wives as He loved the church. A Christ-like marriage, as C.S. Lewis points out, would not be all peaches and cream, but may well involve suffering hatred and abuse and misunderstanding while giving love in return. That is what Christ did, and that is the kind of love husbands are to have for their wives.
Not only does love require a faithful commitment, but it is a commitment in response to God’s command: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke:10:27). Love does indeed involve deep emotion, but it is first of all obedience to God’s command. We can love our husband or wife or parent or mother-in-law and even our enemy, no matter how much evil we think they have done to us. It simply takes the willingness to let God pour out His love through us.
Christ has committed Himself to us for eternity, and He expects us to make the same commitment to Him. And that commitment involves loving others if we truly love Him—for a lack of love for our brother is, according to Scripture, proof that we do not really love God (1 John:4:20,21). How much more is the insistence that we cannot love wife or husband or parent betrayal of the fact that our love for God, no matter how loudly we profess it, is not genuine at all.
There is another motive for loving Christ’s appearing. It is not only that we long to see Him for ourselves, but we also want to see Him glorified on this earth where He has been rejected for so long. What a tragedy that “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John:1:10). The hearts of those who love Christ are grieved that this world, blinded by pride, goes about its business building its plastic utopia in complete disregard for the One who longs to rescue it from an eternity of horror which it is bringing upon itself.
If we love our Lord, then we will want to see Him revealed to the world and made known for who He is. We want to see Him honored and praised where He was rejected. We long to see Him rule, whose right it is to rule, and we want to be at His side, singing His praises, pointing men to Him who is the Lover of our souls.
Our relationship with Christ and with God through Him will forever be one of perfect love. When we see Him, faith and hope will have given place to sight. But love, the greatest gift of all, will endure forever.