Have you experienced new life in Christ? If not, you are probably not getting much from my blog. Unless, perhaps, I have caused you to begin to wonder what your life is about. For those that have experienced new life in Christ, what does that look like? Is your new life in Christ, different than the one you knew before?
Sometimes, this can be the most difficult part of our Christian experience. We want our lives to be different, but we are not sure how to make it that way. It is so easy to get caught up in the holdrum of living out our “normal” existence. If we have purpose to our lives, for example, to know, love and follow Jesus in community, this can give us a direction to easily seeing the difference. A life focused on ourselves, leads to nowhere. A life focused on God and others, leads to eternity and beyond!
Step back for a moment, if we are pursuing God by using spiritual disciplines to know Him and following Him, by using his teachings and his example then we will begin to see our Christian life like the adventure it was meant to be! But… we will only get out of it what we put into it. Sound familiar? That is true of so many things in life. The Christian life as an adventure will only be that, if we are willing to love God as an appreciation for the way He has loved us. We love because he loved us first.
Love is a verb. Not a feeling. It’s what we DO. We demonstrate our love for God in the way that we live our lives. After all, He demonstrated his love for us by leaving Heaven and all of it’s advantages by becoming human, being born as a baby and experiencing life every bit the way that we know it. Not only did he experience life as we know it, but he experienced death in the worst way. Death on a cross. He did this to demonstrate his love for us. Once we put our faith and trust in Him, He gives us new life. This life is a life of love.
We now live our lives focused on loving God. Jesus said, if you love me, love others. We demonstrate our love for God by the way we love others. As we listen to Jesus’ teachings throughout the gospels and see his demonstration of love, we learn how to love God back by following his teachings and examples. That all sounds great, but what about when it becomes hard? Do we give up? Do we make excuses? Do we just limit ourselves to the fun parts of the adventure?
If I ask if you love God, I’m guessing most of you would say, “yes, of course!” But, if I ask if you love your muslim neighbor? Do you love your co-worker who keeps stabbing you in the back? Do you love your mom, who let you down? Do you love your spouse who ignores you? Do you love your customer who speaks angrily at you? Do you love your family enough to spend time with them instead of just providing for them and buying them gifts?
I’m guessing the answer to these questions aren’t so easy and if you are anything like me, you probably started asking questions like “well, what do you mean by love?” or “can I do that from afar?” and “why do I even have to? Do you know what they did to me?” God didn’t just die for those that were easy to love. He died for all. He loved all. He still does. That is our call too. When we look at the examples and teachings of Jesus, He calls us to love all. And if we will spend time with Him and truly look at His examples and listen to His teachings, He will show us how.
Jesus, show me how to love others as you love them. All else is meaningless.
As my friend, Jeff Pinkleton encouraged us yesterday, I would encourage you to take some time with Jesus and consider what your life is all about. It’s the end of the year. What do you want next year to look like? How are you knowing, loving and following Jesus in community? Wait… in community??? More on that next year. (next week)