Monday, June 28, 2010

The Key To Everything In Life

It is a shame that more of us do not have that greater revelation of the Father's heart and the love of Jesus Christ that the Apostle John had. I know I could certainly use a greater revelation. Without it we continue to struggle with things that should not be a struggle for us. It is from love that everything that is Jesus flows; compassion, grace, forgiveness and the rest of the character that we are desperate for. With such a revelation we would certainly be better neighbours, friends, co-workers, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. It is from this revelation of God's love that the ability to beat self-centeredness comes in; when we are willing to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Yet, John presents the need to experience this love in a way that makes it essential instead of a nice side effect.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. (1 John 3:14-15)

What we read here in John's letter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is that loving our brother is our way of knowing we made it, that we have crossed over into the light. This seems to be the one thing that has eluded us as a Church and yet is at the very foundation of our relationship with Jesus. Jesus himself prayed about our unity because it would be how the world would know that we are authentic and that Jesus in us is authentic. When people from different backgrounds and interests are able to set aside their interests and show genuine concern for each other and share in great and deep fellowship, the world can see there is something different here. Yet, it is even more important than this because it addresses the very root of the genuineness of our relationship with Jesus. John directs us again to a correct understanding of this love:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)

(Just a side note: I find it interesting how much 1 John 3:16 parallels John 3:16.) Laying down our lives can take on many different forms, it does not necessarily require death. Any time we set aside our own interests, needs, desires for someone else we are laying down our life. Now this is where we can get into trouble with the bit about conformity. John describes the fruit of this love, the action it can take in our life:
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:17)

Sometimes it is easy to take action, to give things up, because it makes us look good and because it is a value that is highly prized in the Church. We can do this but in ourselves it is only producing bitterness, a sense of being used, resentment. We can carry on for years like this but inside we are being eaten away until one day it just all falls apart. The love that John is describing cannot be faked, it has to be produced by the Holy Spirit in us. We are not talking about conforming our actions but of being transformed so that we couldn't even think of not loving our brother; that we always choose to do the right thing toward our brother due to this love. It goes beyond words that we speak:

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

It is not enough to have a head knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to see and understand the Father's plan. It is not enough to accept the logic of the sacrifice according to the law. It must go beyond knowledge and become experience and transformation:

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20)

This is far more important then the emphasis we give it today. In our current culture we seem to glaze over this huge fundamental point. I don't want to get into the ugliness of our current state but I have to wonder if we know Jesus at all. We argue over matters that Paul referred to as disputable, not understanding what damage we are causing to the mission. What silly, small people we are not realizing the significance of our place in history nor understanding our calling to be giants of faith. But how can we be people of faith when we can't even love as Jesus loved:

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21-22)

When will we clue in that it is this love that makes us whole, it is this love that keeps us from condemning ourselves, it is this love that fills us with such great confidence that we can do anything in the name of Jesus? When we are not confident of this love we stand condemned. When are confident of this love it ceases to be about us, our weaknesses become insignificant, we trust our Father with everything, we understand the greatness to which we were called, we stop living such little lives and we become the giants we were called to be. But it starts with love which leads to obedience. The commands are simple:

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

We tend to make it a lot more complicated but it isn't. The relationship is as simple as that. We do what he did and we have a fellowship that allows a deep communion with Jesus. Love as he loved; live as he lived and the Spirit will have the freedom in us to see great things happen:

Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:24)

If you want to live a full life for Jesus and impact the world around you then begin by seeking a greater revelation of the Father's heart and the love of Jesus Christ. You will know you have it when your love for your brothers, sisters and neighbours becomes genuine and not "put on". This love is the key to everything; it always has been.

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