This past week I posted many threads having to do with being a reflection of Jesus and living out our faith. I talked about how it is not works but rather what kind of conduit we allow ourselves to be. As a result: I was challenged.
That is how it seems, though, when we put ourselves out on the matters closest to God's heart. Next step: spiritual warfare and testing. You probably wouldn't know to read the posts, but by week's end I was struggling to reflect and be that conduit of His love and hope to people around me.
This message is near to my heart, though, because it is the battle cry of our missions' calling: It's not about religion, it's about relationship. It comes in every aspect of having and sharing that relationship
I prayed and sought the Lord for my challenges and heart-ache. I felt like he was telling me to post a cap-stone to the messages of late. But I didn't know where to begin. Enter Mugs and Muffins.
It is a women's group that meets at our church once a month. They have coffee and muffins, listen to a devotion, and fellowship. This month the pastor's wife delivered a devotion to the group. The theme: love.
The capstone took shape.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- Ephesians 5:1-2
OK, she didn't share this verse, but it is the mortar between the message of last week and the capstone to go in place today.
How are we "imitators"? Simply, in how we live and her verse...
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
- 1 Peter 4:8
... begins to shed light on specifically how. If we have not love, we have nothing. In my studies recently I read; if you reject love, you reject God, for God is love.
|1 John 4|
- We should love people without judging them (we never know what they are going through at any given time)
- We should love people even when they are not making good decisions
- When we judge and are harsh, we are worse than the pharisees
- The ones who need to be loved most are often the hardest to love
- If someone is offending me, it is because I need to love them better
But the most profound point she made:
- When we withhold love, we are not truly free.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”... Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.
- John 8:31-32, 42
People withheld love from Jesus. His caution then can still be a caution now not just for how we love Him but also for how we love others in His name.
Like I suggested last week, faith is not an action beyond submitting. It is nothing you can do. Driving home from fellowship listening to KLove the final piece drifted over the airways.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
- James 2:17
No, it isn't about what we do... not even if we choose to love or act in love... or do anything in Jesus' name. It is about the Holy Spirit living through us. My grandma always said, "You don't have to want to change to come to Christ, but coming to Christ will change your want-tos". I saw that happen with my husband and many others. Secular actions to-the-core. But when they accepted Christ as their savior and submitted to HIS way and will with them, they found their actions played out for them.
Love, when Jesus is loving through you is more perfect.
Help, when Jesus is helping through you is productive.
Life, when lived with Jesus living through you is powerful.
Actions may not determine our faith, but our faith can be seen (and often determined) as the result of our actions... especially our actions in love.
Why did I write about this so much last week? Because I was Led to; it is a common deficiency in the body of Christ and it makes my own heart cry. It is at the core of failing churches. It is in the midst of broken families. It is in the hearts of everyone who turns from faith. It is what tears our country apart this very day. We are a stubborn people, many of us, and it isn't until we let go, submit ourselves, and LET GOD do wonderful and even radical things through us that we will truly see a revival in this land.
I pray these messages may stir your heart along side mine. We all struggle, but it is in arming ourselves with His Word and His Spirit that we can fight these battles and take the battleground for Jesus. Be strong, be reflective, and above all don't try to do it yourself... just open yourself and let God do it through you.
Give yourself up =
Be blessed this week,
Joining Michelle today at: