Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do We Really Love? (Part Two)

The house was barren, stripped of all furniture except a small table lamp that illuminated the living room.  It was December when my husband and I walked through the antiquated home for the first time, thin orange carpet, loosely laid, gathering and folding with many of our steps.  The place would need a lot of work, and we weren’t actually considering purchasing—not seriously, at least.  But a month later, it was a done deal.  The day after we closed on the house, we began the work of gutting out that orange carpet, painting the dulled walls, and transforming the place into the vision we had for it.

When we first saw it, that home off Main Street in our little town felt empty, devoid of human spirit and personality.  Sure, the remnants of homemade curtains still hung on certain windows.  And wallpaper hinted at the taste of the daughters who had selected it.  But those people were all gone now, or at least had moved on to another place.  After purchasing the house, it was our joy to spend time making it a home once again.

That house before inhabitants reminds me of the emptiness which can occur in the lives of believers.  It’s reflected in lifeless hymn singing, dullness to hearing God’s Word, and an apathetic ministry with others.

Lifeless Christianity is an oxymoron, for Jesus is a risen and living Lord Who affects the spirit of those He indwells.  Jim Eliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”  A passion that consumes us, a wisdom that balances us, a love that enlivens us—such spiritual vitality can resonate from our souls when we are in love with Jesus Christ. 

But that is the rub.  To be in love with Him is essential before we can in any way be effective in loving others.  And yet, too often our ministry can be a sham, for it is not sourced in His love.  God wrote the Manual on Love.  How our ministries must reflect that love!  How that agape kind of love must perfume every relationship!  How this selfless love should envelop all our service, so that we are merely stepping in the footsteps of the One Who is Love.

When we fail to follow Love’s leadership along the path of life, we will feel the emptiness, the hollowness.  We will begin to doubt God’s perfect love for us and question the service He has sanctified for us.  In turn, that faithless focus will affect others.  Living in unbelief will quench the fires of love for others, turning our ministry gaze to focus upon the sin, meanwhile failing to adequately view the kind of love God has for the individual sinner.

But living in the reality of Him—that is where love begins and continues, for every act performed from a heart of love never fails but rather brings forth eternal fruit.  He is All-Sufficient, my source of wisdom, my strength in weakness, my Savior from woe.  How intimately do I know Him?  Obey Him?  Does He have my waking moments?  Does He have my time?  Do I freely give Him all things, as He freely gave for me? 

Withholding minutes from the One who gave His life for me screams “Insensible!”  Claiming my rights when He yielded up His own entirely shouts, “Illogical!”  Failing to love others wholeheartedly when He loves them absolutely yells, “Insensitive!”

False fronts gone, stripped of all our own ways, in step with the Spirit, we can be the channels of love which God originally intended.   Rights in hand, time our own, failing to abide in God’s Word and spend moments reveling in His goodness, we will block the Love which God desires to send through us to others--from Him! 

Oh, let us not be weary in continuing our daily time with Him, in spending seasons of prayer alone.  Let us not fail of God’s grace in this fellowship with Him.  In due season we shall reap a harvest brought about by God alone.  Faint not, Christian!  Your All-Sufficient One has love enough for you!  
--Heather Ross