Friday, July 2, 2010

I Want To Be Compelled

For anyone who thinks I am like a broken record recently concerning the subject of love, remember we are examining John's first epistle. There is no subject greater for John and he desired everyone to fully understand that love is the foundation of everything; the soil from which everything else grows. We are not discussing the sappy human version of it, which comes and goes according to the circumstances of life. Love is greater than Valentine Day sentiments with its chocolates, flowers and dinners to make up for a year of neglect. The love which John writes of is a life changing thing that compels us into action. Paul gave it as the reason for what he did:

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience ... For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:11, 14-15)

Have we felt compelled lately concerning anything with God, or do we do what we do out of obligation and tradition? Remember the two commands that are suppose to well up in response to what Jesus has done for us:

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

It is impossible to serve God in the hopes of provoking love in us; our love for him provokes us to serve him with our entire being. Paul said it is the great motivator and without it we are nothing and have nothing:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

If we only understand the theory, the book learning, the law and have not been transformed by his very real and practical love in an overwhelming encounter with Jesus, then everything we say and do in Jesus' name amounts to nothing. We talk about having a relationship with Jesus but we do not qualify it. Having a relationship with Jesus is not like your relationship with your doctor, butcher, or your neighbour. A correct relationship with Jesus is the most intimate relationship of your life; deep, profound, real, overwhelming, alive, vibrant. So big and so real is this relationship that the love from it compels us to tell everyone about him. If we don't have this then we don't have Jesus. John makes it truly black and white for us:

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)

We can't love as God loves from our own hearts because our hearts are incapable of loving from a selfless place and God does. However, once we have experienced this love, have been transformed by it, and desire everyone to know it, we are capable of loving people with his love. Not with our weak version but with his full-body original love. Too often we deal with people from a self-centered place where we must rely on the law for guidance in our actions. Yet, when we possess this love we are guided by a greater thing:

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:13-16)

Take a look around. Do you think we can claim that we are really relying on this love? Does this love set our pace in the day? Does this love compel us to do what is right? Does this love temper the words that we speak and the actions that we take? Are we motivated to live a life bigger than ourselves because we are compelled by a love greater than our own? Is kindness and forgiveness an every day function of our life? Can we honestly claim that we love because he first loved us? It is not that I expect all of us to have stepped into the maturity of having his love made complete in us but I am concerned about myself, that I may not even be moving in the right direction. Are any of us? A simple sign is: does your heart break when you do wrong, when you make a mistake, when you hurt someone, so that seeking forgiveness is felt deeply, comes naturally, and is very real? In the same way, are you able to forgive readily even when the person shows no sincerity in wanting your forgiveness? This verse is still working on me:

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Love is not what we receive but what we give. Jesus' words:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

If we could get such a revelation of God's love and its effect on us the world would be overwhelmed by it. Let's set aside our judgmental attitudes and our wrongful applications of the law and set our hearts on seeking a greater revelation of God's love. I want to be transformed so that my life is guided by what he wants and not what I want; a life of being compelled into action. Lord, hear the desire of my heart and take pity on me.

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