Renewing Your Love

Dear friends, I’m not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the message you heard.
-1 John 2:7
If you are wanting to mature in Christ and get closer to God, to live the life; you might be searching for the deeper things, the deeper teachings, or the deeper knowledge.  There are dozens of things you might do, which I will not list.  Most of them are dead ends.

Only Jesus himself is the way, the truth and the life.  The essence of the Christian life is the person of Jesus Christ.  It is personal.  Do you as a person know him as a person?  

To find out what the Christian is all about, we have to look at where we came from.  What birthed Christianity?  Christ birthed Christianity, but where did Christ come from and how did Christ happen and what was Christ all about?  In other words, what was the motivation of Christ or God in Christ?

If the Christian is part of a family, referred to as friends or beloved: brothers, sisters, dads, and moms in Christ; then how did it all start?  

It started with God's love.  It was God's love that sent Jesus, who is Christ.  That's how the Christian began.  Those are the roots.

Jesus loved God and loved people.  He instructed his first learners who he called to himself, to love each other the way he loved them.  That is the message that is not new.  

How is your love doing?  Are you loving others as Christ has loved you?

God's love in Christ is the root of Christianity.  If you are not loving, then you are not in harmony or are out of synch with the root.  

The test of love is obedience.  We were set free from bondage to sin, but now we must choose love, choose obedience.  That means a life of loving God and loving others.  Receive God's love and love others.

Apostle John is the one who rested his head on Jesus at the last dinner they had together.  He is the one that Jesus entrusted with the care of his mom.  Some people call John, the Apostle of love.  Read 1 John and you will see the word love a lot.  I think it is fair to call John a lover, full of Christ's love.

John says that if you say you've got the love of God in Christ, but are not obedient; then you are a liar (1 John 2:4).  John also calls out people who hate their brothers or sisters, while claiming to be enlightened, as people in darkness.  What this means is that Christians can delude themselves.  

Christianity is not a self-improvement program, but it only works if you work it (Phil. 2:12-13).  You have to work out, but the Holy Spirit will be your trainer.  You have to turn to the Lord and he will transform you.  You have to open your mouth to share Christ and God will give you the words.

Imagine with me, that you were in the ancient church, perhaps in Ephesus, in the first century.  You are a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.  You have heard all the stories.  

Your brother in Christ, who led you to know him had some good news for you one day.  That news was that Apostle John, one of Jesus' original disciples is coming to speak to your gathering of believers next week.  You and your friends are thrilled to hear this news.

In the week before John arrives, there is a buzz among the Christians about what new revelation that John will bring.  People have said that since Jesus ascended to heaven, John has had many visions of the future that some are calling apocalyptic, like end of the world stuff.

Here is the testimony of what happened:  When John came, we were not disappointed.  I have never sensed the presence of God stronger than on that day.  I almost could not stand when we were singing and hearing songs before John came forth to address our group of brothers and sisters.

He stood up and didn't say anything for quite a while.  He looked at us like a loving grandpa.  It felt like his eyes could see into us, but it also felt very loving to be in his gaze.

Finally, John spoke.  It was one of those, "you could hear a pin drop", moments.  He spoke three words and then paused.  The three words were, "love one another".  

He went on the expound about God's love in Jesus.  He talked to us about the last time he had dinner with Jesus before the cross and how Jesus told them to love each other.

John told us about when Jesus washed their feet that night and told them to care for each other.  He reminded us of the Father's love for Jesus and Jesus' love for the Father.  He told us that how we love each other is a reflection of Jesus' love for us and the Father's love for him.

He told us that if we are not living in this love, then we are fooling ourselves and are deceived.  We can have our loved renewed, he said.  He said, we can return to and be renewed in our love for Jesus, which will then be reflected in how we treat others.

Many of us asked God, that day, to fill us again with Christ's love, so that we can love others as a witness to the world that Christ is real.

It is the same today.  We need the old command renewed in us.  We need the same love of God in Christ in our lives to love each other.  Some of us need to return to our first love and do what we did at the beginning (Rev. 2:1-7).  What most of us did at the beginning was to love God and love others.

We can work hard and persevere in the faith.  We can be rightly intolerant of evil.  We can expose false apostles and endure under hardships.  We can do all this and more, but lose the love we started with.  When we realize this, all we have to to is repent and return to that simple love.

We all can get self-righteous and start running the program.  But all the good works are for naught, if we have disconnected from the simple, humble love for Christ.  

Receive his love, and love others.  That's the root of the Christian life.  We love because he loves and he loves from his Father's love of him and his love of his Father.

How great is the love
That you have given us
That we should be called your children

Great is your love
Great is your faithfulness
Great is your gentle touch

-Craig Musseau, 1989