Who Are We?
The question, to whom do I belong, sounds quite philosophical. At its root it can be. But, Jesus gives His disciples a very practical, easy to identify answer.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
What kind of love is Jesus referring to? The highly emotional feeling we experience all too often? The dangerously glib addition to the end of a phone call with a family member: love you?
In verse 34, Jesus has already answered the question: “ Love as I have loved you.” Love is loving as Jesus lived and loved. Love cannot be separated from living, from action.
How did Jesus love them? Jesus’ love, while filled with any and all kinds of truly human affections, is first and foremost quite distinct. Biblical love is much more demonstrative than emotive. The disciples could see His love in action.
In John 8:28 and 14:24, Jesus shows them the Father. “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” This faithful representation of God the Father is connected to our love of the Father in 14:24, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.” Love urges us daily to keep the words of Jesus and the Father.
In John 14:10-24, Jesus showed them obedience. He concludes the passage, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.”
In Matthew 9:1-13, Jesus showed them sacrifice in action, “mercy!” He concludes the challenge with, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
In John 10:7-18, Jesus showed them provision for the weaker. In verse 15, He emphasizes, “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
In John 14:1-4, Jesus showed them a glimpse of eternity. “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
These are a few of the ways in which we see love in action. Love which is conforming to it’s intended nature: to be demonstrated! We demonstrate God’s love for us, seen in Jesus: when we let others see our Heavenly Father; when we obey the words of the Father; when we act in mercy, not just sacrifice; when we lay down our lives for the weaker, the unprotected; when we refresh our commitment to eternity as our home, and take less action to be fooled into giving too much authority to the world we live in.
We in the global SCP vision want to see every person in the world with an opportunity to be reconciled to God. But, we also realize that one of the most powerful elements in this vision, is the demonstrative power of love in action through our daily lives.
Our lives are more important than we think! Churches filled with these kinds of distinctive people multiply themselves and the Gospel message naturally across their communities.
Acting to feed hungry people, build homes for the needy, fight for political justice, protest against the slaughter of unborn babies, etc, important as they are, pale in comparison to a life transformed from the inside out through death to sin, and resurrection to new life in and with Jesus.
The promises made to us by God will naturally compel us to see daily holiness formed in us. This is why Paul tell us in 1 Corinthians 6:17, “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from the….”
Being the children of God, we are to live separate, ie distinct from the world from which we were rescued and in which we still live. His people are His design.
It is the shocking impact of a life changed which calls most to those who are still without Jesus. Yes, God does use many other things to call people’s attention to His Gospel. Most of these things leave residues of debate.
A life that was once as self centered as any, was as unloving of spouse as those all around us, was as stingy, and complaining and as manipulative as everyone else, and, now we see all of that turning upside down, what explanations are we left with? The incarnation of growing holiness is a difficult reality to debate!
This brings us full cycle back to my original contention: our lives are more important than we too often think. For they either corroborate or they bring into question what we say!
We have a great need every day to cleanse the defilement of flesh and spirit. To guard our hearts and minds in such a way as to give the Spirit of God and the word of God access to correction and maturing love in action.
Love was designed by the very nature of God, the model of Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit who empowers us, to be seen!