In my last post (Coldness of Heart), I shared a quote by Andrew Murray from a series of sermons he preached in London in 1895. They are contained in a delightful book called “Wings Like Eagles.” Murray speaking on the lack of love in the church at one time, says: “…I will not speak of the coldness that exists between Christians who spend years together in the same church and eat the same bread at the Lord’s supper…”
I was convicted by my own lack of love demonstrated towards my brothers and sisters in my church – or even believers I have been friends with for many years. A coldness of heart that comes from years of association translates into a lack of compassion, slowness to serve them, unkind words and actions, and not being there to encourage or even be loyal towards them.
Instead, there is the expectation that people will “grow up”, “get over themselves”, and become the people we expect them to be rather than loving them just the way they are. Somehow I would argue they are undeserving and unforgivable and that I have “done my time” doing the encouragement and serving. I keep an emotional distance, so they don’t expect too much from me. I am “in and out” of the church, hardly interacting with anyone; say a quick hello/ goodbye, and I have made my appearance.
I have a cold heart.
I have to ask myself:
- In my personal relationship with Jesus, am I more interested in the benefits that come from that relationship, or am I interested in what breaks His Heart?
- Am I more interested in the comfort that comes from the security and love of Jesus, or am I interested in what He desires and longs for – the Bride of Christ?
- Am I more interested in how I am perceived by the Body of Christ or how Christ is honoured and praised in the Body of Christ?
Forgive me, Lord, for my selfish, self-orientated heart. Will they know I am a Christian by the love I have shown? Can they see that God has poured out His love into my heart and that now it is splashing on the people around me? Have I obeyed His one command?
“ ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ “(John 13:34-35)
I immediately think I must pull myself up by my bootstraps and start to love the people around me as I should. But I know how my “little love” can be so inadequate. I have failed many times or given up on the first obstacle to loving the unlovable. So I identify with that feeling of despair or disappointment in myself when I realise that I have failed again at love. Loving people is hard – especially those hard-to-love ones that are in every circle.
I know I cannot love like the bible wants me to love.
But in his book, Andrew Murray points out that Jesus had a very specific prayer in John 17:20-23
“‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “
Jesus is praying for believers and asks the Lord to grant a unity between believers that is the same as the unity between Father and Son “just as you are in me and I am in you.” Jesus is asking the Father that the same love that unifies Father and Son also be amongst believers “May they also be in us.” This is a supernatural kind of love that does not love by human standards. The love that is to be demonstrated between believers is the manifestation of God’s love, His mighty power.
We do not love one another based on our own ability, but God’s “agape” love poured down into our hearts unites us with Him and causes us to love. This same “agape” love is what unites us with our fellow brothers and sisters. It is not a love that we can generate – God has to do it. God loves us supernaturally, and we love others supernaturally through His power. Jesus was praying (and is still praying) for this power of love to work amongst believers.
I do not have to do my best to love in “the little” power I have to love. Instead Romans 5:5
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
The power of the Holy Spirit will enable me to love as the bible describes I should love.
This is God’s design: Not that we love, but that He loves through us.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13)
First, He creates in us “the will” to love; and second, He empowers us “to act” in love as we claim the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do just that. This is working out our salvation.
What a relief!
It is not up to me. Any effort I make to love will vanish like the morning dew if it was up to me.
However, I realise that there is a blessing that I desire from the Lord.
Holy Spirit, fill me with the love of God so that I may love God as He loves me and then fill me to an overflowing love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, my believing friends that I have known for long and every person that burns Your heart, Lord. Give me this love Lord, in a measure and in a way, and in a power that I have never understood before. Make my heart a vessel for this love, continually being filled to overflowing and pouring over, splashing on all the people in my life.