Pastor Judah Smith, who is known for ministering to mega-pop star Justin Bieber and football star Russell Wilson, spoke at a conference in California Thursday evening, preaching about God's kind of love, which, he said, can never be practiced by trying, no matter how hard we try.
Most Christians would know that the "agape" love, as described in 1 Corinthians 13, is "unconditional, relentless love," Pastor Smith said. And many might just get excited about it and resolve to try their best to practice it, but they will only end up telling God it is impossible, he added.
The 36-year-old pastor of The City Church in Seattle, Washington, was among main speakers at the Catalyst West Coast conference in Orange County, California, which was attended by about 3,000 people, Thursday evening.
Smith read a few verses from the well-known chapter in the New Testament: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing."
Pastor Smith continued, reading from verses 4 to 7: "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
These traits seem humanly impossible to show consistently, the pastor told attendees.
The Christians in the Corinthian church were perhaps not even good at "phileo," or human, emotional love, the pastor pointed out. Then why did Paul urge them to practice love that is found only in God?
Paul intended to create a "mirror effect," Smith said. The list of love traits was "not a random collection," he added. Paul wanted to show them a "mirror" to tell them they don't look like Jesus but they needed to.
But how? Do not "try," he said, but just "rely."
Paul did not suggest some "tweaks," but he proposed "a radical reordering of their souls," Smith explained. It is a "supernatural love being proposed here," which is possible by "transformation of the deepest core of your being." And that is the only way, he said.
God doesn't "do" agape, but agape "is" embodied in Him, Smith went on to say.
Only when you accept and receive God's love can you dispense it to others, he concluded.
Pastor Smith spoke to The Christian Post last month, and discussed one of the main points made in his new book, Life Is ____, which talks about God's love defying all logic.
"We see in Scripture that God is love personified. He doesn't do love, doesn't just feel love," he told CP. "How we see that played out in the story of Jesus the son of the living God, He comes with this unconditional love for humanity, and I think that's the part that is illogical in nature."