Friday, July 10, 2015

The Power To Love

How much of Jesus do you want? That's what we need to decide. What we should decide is that we want 100% of him, that we will not be satisfied with anything less. What we settle for is sadly much less. It is sad because there is no need for it. We are like that seed which had very shallow roots, so when the day became hot and dry, it died. As soon as any trouble or challenge comes our way, our faith fails because our relationship is shallow.

Since the first time I read the Bible as a child, Paul's prayer for the church of Ephesus overwhelmed me, and still does to this day:

I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

That we would find strength in the presence of Jesus in us; that our fellowship would be so real that we would be open to him strengthening us through the Spirit. Some of us imagine this sort of relationship but we don't understand how available it is to us, if we are willing to be in love with Jesus. We get caught up in all the trappings of the Church, of the religiously minded, of the law seekers, the circumcision group. We need to break free of this thinking and discover again the simplicity of the relationship.

We first have to accept and live the fact that Jesus is in us. We don't always live as if he is. If we did, we certainly would not want to join him to sin by allowing our bodies to enter into sin. If we were more conscious of his presence we would have greater strength to resist temptation. We would also be more in love with him as we understand intimacy with him. We are not praying to some distant god; we are living through the One who is in us, sharing every intimate detail of our lives with him.

Some of us want to grasp the greatness of God's love from a safe distance but this prayer reminds us that the starting point must be an intimate relationship of love with Jesus:

"As a result of having strong roots in love ..."

Paul prays that they will be lent the power to grasp the greatness of this love. If we would submit ourselves to this level of understanding, all selfishness would disappear and we would be provoked to love the loveless, to pray for those who persecute us and to befriend the sinners of this world, because they need to experience the love of Jesus.

Yes, go ahead and preach those powerful, anointed words, but also allow that power and anointing to but legs on what you teach in theory. The only way this world will know Jesus is when we grasp his love to the point of laying our lives down, giving up our rights and possessions, giving up our attachments, to show kindness, mercy and grace to the lost, even as they spit in our face, throw us in jail, destroy our reputations and put us to death. If we are to love like this in these extremes then should we not love with forgiveness in the little things as well?

This is what really stands out:

"...that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God. "

Beyond knowledge. Beyond study. Beyond theory. Empowered by the Spirit to know in your heart, mind, soul, so that you can put that love into action through his strength and power. Christian extremism is not upholding the Law of the Old Testament, it is living the fulfilled law of love that the Spirit has written on our hearts. It is not ignoring the fact of God's justice, but it is holding out the hope of love, forgiveness, mercy, grace to a dying world.

Let us set our heart and mind on things above instead on this decaying earth, and let us love as Jesus has loved us, to the point of sacrificing everything to lay down our loves for those he loves.

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