Radical LOVE!

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(Image credit Instapray)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,”-Jesus.

Jesus never asks us to do something He will not empower us to do. He gave us the secret to loving like Him in John 15:5. He told us to abide in Him. If His Spirit is in us, we can love! God is love. These are some thoughts I’ve been pondering about love in God’s Body (followers of Jesus).

In fellowship and covenant (committed love)…

Who will you die to self for?

Who are you willing to continually sacrifice for?

Who are you willing to carry when they cannot carry themselves?

Who are you willing to support even if it’s not convenient for you?

Who are you willing to pray for until they get breakthrough?

Who are you willing to join your life to so they are blessed beyond measure because of the gifts God placed in you?

Who are you willing to continually love, even if they do not love you?

God invites us to enter into covenant with other believers. It’s not about saying I love you…it’s about living I love you. Loving when it’s hard. Loving in winter, spring, summer, and fall. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us. It’s not a love that is in word only. It’s a love that causes us to throw off our selfishness, pride, apathy, complacency, and passivity. Are we committed to this kind of love for one another? This kind of love lets the world know we belong to Jesus. Here’s an excerpt from the Bible on the friends who carried their friend to Jesus. This is the radical love that God is calling every believer to…Christ’s agape love.

The Help of Friends – Luke 5:17-20

One day Jesus was teaching the people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there too. They had come from every town in Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. The Lord (God) was giving Jesus the power to heal people. There was a man that was paralyzed (crippled). Some men carried him on a mat. The men tried to bring him and put him down before Jesus. But there were so many people that the men could not find a way to Jesus. So the men went up on the roof and lowered the crippled man down through a hole in the ceiling. They lowered the mat {into the room} so that the crippled man was lying before Jesus. Jesus saw that these men believed. Jesus said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (ERV)

I went through a very hard season and I can say I spent most of it relying heavily on Jesus. I can say I am thankful for the people who loved me in the beginning, middle, and end of the storm. The people who didn’t make it about them, but enabled me to just get to Jesus. I am human just like everyone else, in dire need of Jesus. I need comfort just like everyone else in loss and pain. If you encounter one person who loves you unconditionally and is willing to sacrifice for you, you are richer than most of the people in the world.

Many people have associates. Many people have buddies. Many people have people willing to take from them. Many people have someone to hang out with and participate in activities. Not very many people have friends willing to risk their very lives to save them.

We don’t need more self-centered Christians. We need more willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s painful to love, especially when you aren’t loved in return. Yet love will always be the greatest commandment and the true marking of a disciple of Jesus.

What if every believer lived a life a love?

No person would feel disconnected, unsupported, alone, or unloved. Yet, this is not the reality. We have people in church every weekend who feel absolutely unloved and uncared for. We don’t need to play Christian games or say, “I love you,” if we don’t. We do need to ask God to fill us so we have something to offer others. We need to live the Gospel, not just know the Gospel. It’s our mission. It’s our purpose on earth-Love God, love people.

May we love, and love well…it’s a process and it’s a journey…yet it’s what we are called to in Christ. And it’s possible through Christ who gives us His strength. Those who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5). I pray earnestly that I can live what I know of Jesus, let Him live through me. So imperfect, yet so dependent on Him for everything.

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Becoming

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Image credit (Passion of the Christ Film).

Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,~Ephesians 5:1-2.

Becoming…the Christian walk is about becoming like the One who gave His life for ours. I do not hear many messages about becoming like Christ anymore. My pastor teaches on it and this past Sunday talked about this narrow path that leads us to being transformed into the image of God’s Son.

Becoming is rooted in abiding. After salvation (believing, repenting of sin, asking for forgiveness, and choosing to say yes to following Jesus), there’s a process called sanctification. The Holy Spirit works in us so we are transformed into the image of God. Those who abide in Him, will have abundant fruit (John 15:5). Apart from relationship with God, we cannot live like Jesus. Grace, God’s abounding grace, empowers us to do the impossible-live and love like Jesus.

Why is becoming so important?

Well, because we represent God in the earth. Some people will never set foot in a church. They will interact with you. If you are following Jesus, you are His Ambassador (sent ones-representative) on earth. He calls His followers to be salt and light. If we don’t imitate Christ in every area of influence and relationship, where’s the light shining in the darkness?

I’ve met way too many people who refuse to go to church because they’ve had horrible experiences with Christians. It’s sad because God is so good.

I have a few friends who are atheist. They grew up Catholic or Protestant, yet they saw people claiming to love and represent God abusing grace, acting exactly like the world, and had some painful experiences. All of which led them to believe God must not be real if His followers are so unrighteous and unloving.

I had one friend who fell down the steps while visiting a church. She stopped the pastor to ask for help. She couldn’t get up and he was the only one who came by. He told her he was late for a staff meeting and left her there.

Jesus said the world will know we belong to Him by our love for one another.

I’ve been in church my entire life. My dad is a pastor. We were taught loving people regardless of who they are or what they believe was and is a priority.

I’ve heard other Christians question my kindness towards them. Why are you doing this? Did God tell you to do this? Well, yes in His Word when He said love others as I have loved you.

How does God love me?

He forgives.
He gives.
He’s merciful and kind.
He’s generous.
He’s encouraging.
He’s thoughtful.
He gives good gifts!
He points me in the direction of truth and holiness.
He supports my dreams.
He cares about every detail of my life.
He’s patient.
He’s compassionate.
He gives more of Himself than I could imagine possible.
He mourns with me.
He laughs with me.
He rejoices over me.
He sees the best in me when I’m at my worst.
Jesus prays and intercedes for me.
The Holy Spirit empowers me.
He protects me.
He provides for me.
He shares His wisdom and knowledge.
He listens.
He speaks.
He comforts.
He celebrates.
He leads.
He’s good!

If I am to imitate Him, then I treat people the way God treats me. I do as He does.

Becoming requires a dying to self and selfishness. It’s not easy, yet it’s possible via the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It’s so important. We are the only interactions some people will have with God. We are not responsible to save the world. We are responsible to let God live and love through us. Jesus invited people to follow Him, not just pray a prayer. Following Jesus is about imitating Him.

We can draw people to God by shining bright, or we can push them away by our lack of love.

God is LOVE!

Father please forgive us for the times we’ve chosen our own path apart from You. May we overflow with Your love. Teach us to stay connected to the true Vine, You. May we be the brightest lights, reflecting and representing You in the earth. In Jesus powerful name, Amen.

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