"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24
Isn't love amazing? No One captures it or communicates it better than Christ.
In this one verse He shows the inclusive nature of love when He says, "Whoever" but then He also demonstrates the exclusive aspect of love when He used the word "must".
To me, this is an incredible insight about the love of God. It is a key to experiencing His CRAZY LOVE.
God's love is unconditional love because it flows out of His nature. He gives it freely to everyone. You are loved fully and completely regardless of who you are or what you have done. Tomorrow as you drive to work, everyone you pass or everyone who passes is loved unconditionally by God. As the children's song goes, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world".
So, love is given to all 7 billion souls on planet Earth! Love is given to whoever draws a breath everywhere all the time! His love is all-inclusive!
But having said that, there are conditions to receiving His love and to growing in that love. In this verse Jesus clearly articulates those conditions. They are:
Decision - "Whoever wants to be my disciple"
Anyone can receive His love but must decide to receive it and enter into a personal faith relationship with Him. That is an exclusive decision.
Denial - ".....must deny themselves...."
To receive His CRAZY LOVE you must deny your selfish self-centered love. You must surrender any competing loves to allow His love to be supreme in your heart. It is that exclusive.
Dying - ".....take up their cross...."
For Jesus to make it possible to receive God's love, He had to die on the cross. The exclusive nature of receiving His love requires you to die to desires that compete with His love.
Devotion - ".....and follow me!"
Once again, if you are to enjoy the fullness of His CRAZY LOVE you must follow Him exclusively. Since love is received in relationship with Jesus, being a follower of Jesus is absolutely required. And unless you are devoted to Him you are not a follower you are just a fan.
Love is given unconditionally but there are conditions to receiving it.
Have you received it?