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 Post Post subject: Devotions - Friday, August 10th, 2007
Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:14 am 
Catspaw knows all

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If I am ever to figure this thing out I will need to start with a proper question. To figure out a proper question I need to get myself oriented to our Father’s perspective. My premise is that I do not really know His love. I know a love but not His love because the love I know has always failed, yet he has never failed me. I cannot find this love in anyone else because everyone I know is as selfish as I am. When there is selfishness there is imperfect love.

“Love never fails.”

I think I need to start with those words again, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” I think I can understand the significance of this statement by Jesus. The importance of it is seen in the context:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

A command. To love. Can love be mandated in this manner? Is this the reason Paul had written at the conclusion of his great discourse on love, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”? Everything hinges on our understanding of this love that transforms lives. We are to be imitators of this love. So then why are there such contradictions in the Church? Forget the Church. The more honest question is why are there such contradictions in my life?

I think I have the question. Jesus said very clearly a second time: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” I think John had it right. John knew there was absolutely nothing religious about this matter. John knew that it all came down to knowing Father’s love and acting on it. So, my first question is, “How has Jesus loved me?” Simple. Perhaps too simple for some. I am going to take a shower and ask the Spirit to open my heart to this question. BRB.

Interesting. Children. Spilt cereal. Spilt milk. A big mess. Frustrations. Words spoken in haste. Would the love of Father impact this? How?

How has Jesus loved me? Millions of people would all yell together, “Look to the cross!” I believe in Jesus. I believe in the redemptive work of the cross. I believe in the covering of the blood of Jesus. I believe. But those words of James often haunt me. Countless demons believe as well, and shudder. Believing and taking right actions based on that belief are two separate things as James correctly pointed out to us. We all agree, do we not, that love is an action? Yet I can mimic the actions of love without it impacting the core of my being. The world looks at the cross and says, “So what?” Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and politicians have died for their people. No, the cross is the climax to something much bigger. If it had just been about the cross then Father would have just skipped everything and gone right to that.

The cross cannot be understood by anyone outside of the context of the relationship with Jesus, of what Jesus did before the cross. We need to work up to the cross. Ha! A knock at the door. An uninvited interruption. Words spoken in frustration. Boy, do I need to discover the truth of Father’s love, and quickly.

So, how has Jesus loved me? I guess I would need to examine his life. He showed a great deal of compassion. Compassion comes from a place of love. Compassion is when love moves our heart to feel for someone because of their situation or circumstances. Again, there is a difference between my compassion and Jesus’. Mine is limited to those I feel deserve it. I have prejudices that will block my compassion toward individuals or groups of individuals. Jesus seems to have no such prejudices. Before we look at this let’s get one group out of the way; the teachers.

I accept that Jesus knows the language of the heart and thus knows each person’s heart, their motivation and such. I see this in the way he dealt with the young rich man who wanted to feel justified yet knew he was falling short. Jesus knew his heart and loved him. But this did not mean that this young man was able to respond to this love. It was available to him, offered to him but he still walked away. Yet, Jesus never seemed to hold this same attitude out to the teachers of the people. I should say this as a generalization. There was Nicodimus. Yet, Jesus still got after him for not understanding the basic truths of the Kingdom.

Jesus had a problem with the teachers because the teachers refused to understand. I think Father has a problem with people who are given clear understanding and yet choose to turn away. They are refusing his love. I guess it falls under the same sort of rebellion as Satan’s, knowing the truth of Father’s love and turning their back on it. In the terms of the church, their hearts were permitted to go cold. Only the acceptance of Jesus’ love can bring warmth and life to the heart of man. But is it just refusing the love of Jesus or is it also a failure to love others with Jesus’ love? Is this the same form of hardening the heart? Back to the compassion.

We know that Jesus’ desire was to teach everyone about the true kingdom of Father and to take on the enemy. He wanted to take on the enemy to give everyone a fair chance to make a decision for or against Father’s love. He had compassion on the people because they had no one to teach them and to show them. This was his highest priority. He gave up everything for it. He left his family. He gave up his work. He gave up any desire for possessions. He slept in the fields. He became dependant on the charity of others. He walked great distances. He spent all his time giving, giving, giving. In this context we can understand what Paul was writing to the Philippians:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Note the words, “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant”. Yikes. Love as I have loved Jesus says. Attitude says a lot. Am I being resistant in this part of the transformation? A servant has no concern for himself. Jesus showed no concern for himself. I cannot recall any time where Jesus put his needs above anyone else’s.

Remember when he had received the news about his cousin John? He tried to get away for some alone time with his disciples, but the crowd raced him to where he was going. Tired, spent, filled with emotions he looked at the crowd and still he had compassion. He got out of that boat and ministered to them. His needs did not matter.

My son knocked on the door a little while ago. He was looking for his skateboard. It is clearly understood among my family that when my door is closed I am unavailable. Many a time they have broken my concentration and I have lost my train of thought. He wanted his skateboard from the man who claimed to love him and he was met with harsh words. A servant’s attitude? Before Paul wrote the above words describing Jesus’ attitude he wrote something else:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Spirit, help me discern the importance of this. Allow these words to come alive, destroying the dead flesh of my heart and bringing new growth. Burn. Burn deep.

Consider the first part: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion…” He is describing what I am suppose to have with Jesus, that oneness. I want to examine that oneness, but not right now. I need to be united with Christ to have this attitude. I need to have a greater, more profound understanding and experience of his love. I need to be enveloped in the Holy Spirit every moment of my day and night. I need all of this to destroy the hardness of my heart so that it is tender and able to know compassion. Why? So that I am able to respond to this love:

“… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” This is the response of a heart possessed by the love of Father. There is no hurt, no pride, no selfish thinking. There is nothing of self in it at all. This perfect love unites our attitude. It is not of various kinds but is the perfect love of Father. It is the only source of unity in all things. It is also practical:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Is it any reason the world isn’t listening? I can’t speak for anyone else but just these few things reveal how much I am not possessed by the love of Father and how much I am not a servant in attitude and how much I am not united. Selfish ambition? What did Jesus receive for all of his time with us? All those people who were healed? All his teaching? All his sacrifices? Yet, in almost everything I do I expect some kind of return, some benefit. I either become angry or disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Disillusioned I believe is the term we use. Obviously Jesus never became disillusioned. He went all the way. Maybe that’s why we have so many quitters now in the church. We won’t even touch conceit.

Selfish ambition is the great destroyer of humility. Do any of us really believe that others are better than ourselves? I don’t mean in the sense of people being better than us at doing things but do we believe that others are more important than us? Are we really willing to pursue their needs, even if there is no direct benefit to us personally?

How has Jesus loved me? He put my needs before his own. He put my eternity before his own. He put my desires before his own. He put my life before his own. He considered me more important than himself. Can I love in this same way? Not with the weak and sickly love I possess in myself. Oh, the world may think it can love in this way but just listen to the frustration in those angry words. People who want to “save” the earth are ready to take lives to do it. There is no respect for anyone. Can a believer consider himself a servant to those who offend him. Is he willing to love those who offend him the most? What has our attitude been toward the homosexual person? Don’t give me any jive about hating the sin but loving the sinner. The words are true but few are able to separate the two. That’s just an example. There are plenty of others. Are you prepared to wash their feet? Am I?

I don’t have to go that far. Am I prepared to put the interest of a twelve year old boy knocking on my door above my own? I can’t with my love. But by remaining in Jesus and him remaining in me can I respond to that seven year old boy with Jesus’ love? Can I do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Can I do it without thinking about it? Can I live as Jesus lived? Can I love with Jesus’ love?

“Love each other as I have loved you.”

“Love never fails.”

That’s enough for today.

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