This is post #6 in a twelve blog/podcast series entitled REAL LIFE CHRISTIANITY. In this series, we’ll look at very practical matters like how we must learn to love and honor both ourselves and others in order to be the Christ-centered followers the Master wants us to be here in the twenty-first century. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Our Lectio Divina for today: 1st John 4: 17-21 (MsgB)
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
The God that you and I worship is eternal, immortal, invisible, and immeasurable (see 1st Timothy 6). But just because God is bigger than our capabilities to contain Him, He still is a Divine Power who wants to be known by His creation! Thus He gives us ways by which we human beings can identify Him and sense His presence in our midst. The primary way of doing just that is best accomplished through identifying His nature or character.
The Old Testament does a marvelous job in helping its’ readers get a basic understanding of God’s nature. Jesus of Nazareth does an even better job by demonstrating, first hand, God’s heart of intention toward us. The Master’s words and works are just like a “show and tell” demonstration; so when Jesus states, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), we can take it to the bank that God’s nature is best understood by simply watching and listening to everything Jesus says and does!
So by the time we get to the pastoral letters of the New Testament (like today’s passage in 1st John), it’s pretty clear to anyone who’s paying a bit of attention that God’s core nature is agape love. And as we discussed last time, agape love is a special kind of love. An un-ending, un-relenting, un-conditional, un-limited, un-equaled, out-of-this-world type of love!
Now, it truly is revolutionary to know that the God we serve is agape love at His very core. But here’s the exciting part that’s a real game-changer for those who have decided to put Jesus at the very core of our nature!
As John the Apostle writes here in his pastoral letter, when you and I “take up permanent residence in a life of (agape) love, we live in God and God lives in us!”
In other words, God, who is agape love, not only sent His Christ to show us His true nature, He also has made a way for orphans like you and me (sinners at best) to bring our broken, love-less lives, surrender them to Him, and in return, get to move into a new home, where agape love is ruling the house!
So, how cool is that?
But now, here comes the hard part. John, the Apostle, who writes so eloquently on the agape nature of God, also writes this:
If you and I say we love the God who is agape love, but fail to love our fellow earth-dwellers, who are, in truth, beloved children of that same loving God, there is something deathly wrong in that formula. You see, it just doesn’t make sense, in God’s economy, to say one thing is true, and then go out and model something different. That’s called heresy. So when we Christ-followers say in our church-settings that we “love,” but then go out into our world showing indifference, or worse yet, hatred, we are breaking connections with the very core nature of the God we worship and serve…agape love that is un-ending, un-relenting, un-limited, and un-conditional.
So as I see it, we Christians have got a lot of loving to do, if we want to keep up with the God who is indeed agape love. Next time, we’ll explore the very best place where you and I can start expressing that kind of God-love…our marriages and our families. I hope you’ll join us!
My prayer: Without a doubt, there is a lack of agape love in my world, Father. Thank You, that You are the ultimate source of the kind of love the world needs to be set free. I’m beginning to see my role, as a Christ-follower, to be an agent of agape love. Empower me for that purpose. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Where, in my circle of influence, is there a lack of agape love? What practical steps can I take to become God’s agent of agape to those around me who need it so badly? Am I willing to go and love, for the greater glory of God?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Thank you for joining us on this 12-session journey we call Real-Life Christianity. We suggest you bookmark our blog/podcast homepage for this series to keep all the blogs and podcasts in one place for your future reference.
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