It’s difficult to deny –my heart certainly cannot– that I love you. Every moment you are in my thoughts.
Yet I know it’s next to impossible for you to love me, in an intimate sort of way, that is (for I know there is nothing externally good-looking about me). It pains me to realize this.
So, instead of suppressing this love and finding myself in danger of becoming bitter, I would rather channel this love through the love of Christ. In doing so, my love then becomes pure, without selfish motives and without the need for expecting love in return.
Love does not seek its own, the Bible tells me (1 Cor. 13:5). Love must emanate from Jesus Christ and fill our hearts and minds, so it is His love that motivates and empowers us, and does the same to those we encounter.
In His love must we live and move and have our being. In His love must we give and serve and minister. In His love must we love.
Thus, I will not deny nor suppress my love for you. I will love you as Christ is loving me.
The love of God liberates my heart.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave His disciples a clear command at the end of His earthly ministry: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19). This command extended to disciples from age to age, including Christians today. It goes without saying that, in order to obey the command to make disciples, we must first be discipled.
Thus, the explicit command is to make disciples; the implicit command is to be discipled. We must submit ourselves to the discipleship program of the church.
What does discipleship mean? It means to be instructed so that we become rooted in the word of God “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Discipleship is all about knowing Christ and His Lordship. “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
We live for God the Father and we live through Christ the Son, because He is Lord. Yet God does not desire blind obedience. He desires that we follow Him out of love. This is why the Apostle Paul prayed that we may know “this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
Discipleship is about Christ Jesus — not doctrines, not personalities, not methods, although these may be essential aids. Ultimately it is about Christ and Him alone and to be able to experience Him as the first disciples did, yet in a greater way.
We can experience Him in our hearts and in our spirits. This is discipleship in all its purity.
When confronted by the majesty and glory of God, Isaiah was asked a question and his answer was, “Here am I. Send me.”
The question was, and it was asked by God, “Whom shall I send?”
God wanted to send someone to speak His word. At first, Isaiah felt that he was inadequate and incapable. He was in the midst of God’s holiness and realized that he was unworthy to be of service. Only after he was forgiven and cleansed did he volunteer to be sent.
God desires to send us to bring the message of reconciliation to the world, that is to reconcile men and women to God through Jesus Christ. And, like Isaiah, we must in turn have the desire to be sent. But we must be sent in His holiness and divine power. Thus, we must first acknowledge that we are not holy and we have no divine power.
This means that we need to acquire the character of Christ. To do so we must have the attitude of Isaiah when he declared, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Living for Christ is not about getting what your heart desires. It’s about doing what God desires.
Living for Christ is about ministering with Him, speaking for Him and impacting lives by Him.
Be sent and be a blessing!
In the stories of Narnia by CS Lewis, the children discover a closet which opens to the land of Narnia. There they find an adventure and a lion named, Aslan, which is symbolic of Jesus Christ.
I, too, enter a closet each day. It’s called a “prayer closet” (Matthew 6:5-8). But it certainly doesn’t open up to Narnia. It opens up to a desert where it’s arid and empty. And there I encounter the spirit of Jesus Christ.
It is not a real desert. It is an attitude. For in my prayers I seek the God who can fill and fulfill, refresh and renew, empower and immobilize.
But, in order to be filled I must be empty; in order to be refreshed I must be humble; in order to be empowered I must admit my weaknesses before an Almighty God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
The desert holds nothing. It is empty. It is dry. When I come before God in prayer, it is just him and me. He is glorious, I am not. He is powerful, I am not. He is beautiful, I am not. He is holy, I am not. He is everything, I am nothing.
Yet, when I leave that desert and arise from my “prayer closet,” I become what he wants me to be. I don’t become a person with an answered prayer. Instead, he makes me an answer to someone else’s prayer.
From a desert I now become a spring.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” someone once said.
This can tell us that our eyes can be deceiving, for we all don’t see the same way. This is why God told Samuel, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Earlier God had told Samuel that he had rejected Eliab, of whom the verse above was referring to. So, if Samuel insisted that Eliab was the anointed one, it would have been disastrous once again for his people.
“But the Lord looks at the heart.” This is a wonderful guiding principle for all of us, especially when it concerns relationships, for it is best to see one another’s hearts and not the outward appearance.
For example, does our relationship with God depend on images? Many artists depict Jesus Christ as handsome, almost with movie star appeal. Yet this is how Isaiah describes the Lord:
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).
If our relationship with Jesus depended on how he looked, would we have sought or loved or worshiped him any less? This is exactly why the Bible exhorts us to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
While relationships with one another can begin with what we first see, it must not end there. Too many marriages have ended simply because two people discovered that there is more to a marital union than looks.
There must be a heart-to-heart view of one another. There we can find the real person, the real motives, the real character. Yet, the Bible warns us about this:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
So, how to resolve this? We must let the Bible first judge our hearts:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
To have the word of God judge our hearts is to be freed of our personal biases or prejudices; so we can see others’ hearts the way God sees ours — with pure love.