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GROWING IN CHRIST

"Love?"

Date published: 05/12/2017
Mark 12:30b-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV)  

   Did reading this passage of Scripture make you yawn?  I can hear some of you say: “Of course I love God and people! Let’s move to something meaty, so I can jump tall buildings with a single spiritual bound.” One time while dealing with forgiving another person, I heard God say “Do you love Me?” Of course I loved God, but what did that have to do with forgiving this person who had wronged me without cause. The Lord began to use this verse in my life. I knew this verse very well, yet did not grasp its meaning.  

   God’s soft voice made this verse a plumb line for illuminating my relationship with Him. My love for others grows in proportion to my love for God. Loving God and loving people are codependent. You cannot love God without loving people, and you cannot love people unless you love God. The two feed each other. Look at everyday situations where God commands you to love: Those who persecute you, those who gossip about you, people who do not pay off a loan, friends who abandon you, fellow workers who do not pull their load. Every day you interact with the unlovable. The unlovable are hard to love (kind of goes without saying!). As your relationship with Jesus deepens, you more naturally love others because you begin to see them as Jesus sees them. My wife always humbles me in this area: I see the big nose, she sees beautiful eyes; I see the unbecoming hair while she sees a beautiful complexion; I see the tattoo while she comments on the unique design; I see a slow waiter, while she sees a beautiful smile; I see an unkempt person while she sees the countenance of an angel.  

   The more intimate and passionate your relationship with Christ, the more you begin to see a person’s heart, his environment, and have concern for his well-being. Instead of getting annoyed that someone has not returned your call, you become concerned that something is wrong with him. Instead of seeing a disgruntled employee, you wonder what is troubling his life. Instead of reacting negatively to a negative person, you are more concerned about the things going on in his life. John 15:4 expands intimacy with God to constantly drawing upon Jesus, “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”(NIV) Everything in your Christian life will flow out of your relationship with Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 goes even deeper by saying that the more you expose yourself to Christ, the more transformation will occur, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (NIV) Living a concern-for-others-centered life rather than a self-centered life is not natural without Christ. Allow Christ to totally inhabit your life; experience an increasing love that does not reflect the world, but Jesus Himself. 

Philippians 2:1-2 “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.” (NIV) 

Ephesians 3:16-19 “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”(NIV) 

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Here are some Bible studies from Growing in Christ to help your transformative experience: “Your Life in Christ” and “Transformation.” 

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