Friday, September 17, 2010

THE OTHER SIDE OF COMMUNION

Walking in God’s glory means not only that we receive the Father’s love, but that we love him back as well. It’s about mutual affection, both giving and receiving love. The Bible tells us, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

God says to us, “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). His love demands that we reciprocate, that we return to him a love that’s total, undivided, requiring all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

However, the Lord tells us in no uncertain terms, “You can’t earn my love. The love I give to you is unmerited!” John writes, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” and “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:10, 19).

Just as God’s love for us is marked by rest and rejoicing, so our love for him must have these same two elements:

1. David expresses a rest in his love for God when he writes, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). The heart that loves the Lord ceases completely from looking elsewhere for comfort. Rather, it finds full contentment in him. To such a lover, God’s lovingkindness is better than life itself!

2. Such a heart also rejoices in its love for God. It sings and dances in joyous ecstasy over the Lord. When a child of God knows how much his Father loves him, it puts a delight in his soul!

Let me give you one of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture. Proverbs give us these prophetic words of Christ: “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:30–31).

Beloved, we are the sons being mentioned here! From the very foundations of the earth, God foresaw a body of believers joined to his Son. And even then the Father delighted and rejoiced in these sons. Jesus testifies, “I was my Father’s delight, the joy of his being. And now all who turn to me in faith are his delight as well!”

So, how do we love Jesus in return? John answers, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

What are his commandments? Jesus says, in essence, there are two and “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). The first and most important is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. We’re to hold nothing back from him. And the second is that we love our neighbor as ourselves. These two simple, non-grievous commands sum up all of God’s law.

Jesus is saying here that we cannot be in communion with God or walk in his glory if we bear a grudge against anyone. Therefore, loving God means loving every brother and sister in the same way we’ve been loved by the Father.