Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Christian Life Is Simple

If I do anything outside of the motivation of love it has no value. It will whither, spoil or simply fade away. Without love I am nothing and I possess nothing. This is the consistent message from the Word of God, demonstrated to us in a straightforward manner by Jesus:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Those are Jesus' words and the fact that he did exactly what he said is noted by the apostle John:

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)

This is how we know what love is. But what makes it even more powerful is that we were the enemies of God when he showed us this love:

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)

And just a simple reminder of what Jesus said about loving our enemies:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)

I really think we are missing the point. We are missing the fact that it is not complicated and that it is not about us. It starts with understanding, accepting and then welcoming the Father's love for us. Not a love that any of us have ever known on this earth but a totally foreign love that overcomes everything, even death. Until a person basks in this love and is overwhelmed by the power of this light to penetrate our darkened hearts, we will not understand how to love, how to serve, how to live the Christian life.

In the present moment the Church seems to be splintering in all kinds of directions but most of those directions seem to have to do with self. Some of the Church is bent on a more professional direction, increasing education, hanging degrees on the wall, dismissing anyone who does not have letters behind their names. You can't be a leader these days without letters:

We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)

I would never dismiss education but knowledge without love is useless. The Corinthians were well endowed with talents and gifts but Paul had to deal with their immaturity because they lacked the foundational experience of love. I would rather sit under the ministry of a garbage man who is possessed by the love of God than a lettered man who speaks without the experience of love.

We also have those who pursue the Spirit as if the Spirit is some drug. They treat worship as a high. They chase after prophecy and a re-filling of the Spirit all the time. They spend their days being taught and "experiencing" God but do nothing with it. The apostle Paul himself said:

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. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

Imagine seeing into all the mysteries of God, gaining all knowledge, and having a faith that actually moves mountains. Most of us want that kind of maturity in our relationship but Paul says that without love we are nothing,

The Christian life is simple: to be loved and to love. Like a broken record I repeat myself: this love is not the love that we are able to produce in ourselves but an incredibly powerful love that pours down from our Father, wraps us in its security and then flows through us into others. It is not the sort of love that is like wisps of smoke, hanging around until the winds of our emotions change. This is a love that the Word of God declares never fails; a sure and solid foundation that the house of faith can be built upon and the abundant life of hope exist within.

It is great that we are mighty warriors, but if you don't even understand from what the spiritual weapons are fashioned how can you understand to use them. Understand how strong those weapons are by accepting the basic truth expressed in three simple words: "Love never fails." Not our weak pathetic version of love but God's unfailing love. The weapons we have are forged in the truth of this love:

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Come on people, let's get it together and reject all things in our lives that are not based on the foundation of our Father's love. Let us become the sons and daughters we were called to be. Let his love be our motivator and guide in all that we say and all that we do. Let us be compelled by his love to live an extraordinary life of service to our King:

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 5:14-15)

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