Would you agree, love is the way of life? Is it not true that the central theme in many novels, movies, and songs is love? So is the central person in the universe, God, who is love. The Beatles sang, “All you need is love.” Christian leaders must love well if they expect to lead well. But love, like servanthood, is not a style or method of leadership. It is the substance of leadership. It is formed in community for community. We’re to remain in Christ’s love.
Some people seem to love better than others. I have struggled to love well all my life. My default for self-centeredness shrinks my capacity to effectively love my wife, children, friends, neighbors, and those under my care in the church. Perhaps, as well, it shrinks my capacity to love God. A missional spirituality is to express and embody an attentive and active love for God and neighbor from the inside out . . . from all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It means that my heart, the center of my being, will enlarge in proportion to its capacity to embrace God’s love for me through Jesus Christ.
Jesus made an astonishing statement: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9).
How much does the Father love Jesus? I have pondered that. Would it be correct to say that he loves him infinitely, perfectly, and selflessly? How much does Jesus love you, me, us? As much as the Father loves him! Is not all Christian theology essentially about God’s love? Christian theologians speak of “union with Christ.” This is to be an experiential not simply a doctrinal reality in my life. In John 15, Jesus teaches the vine and branches metaphor. He points to the vital relationship of remaining, abiding, and living in him, in union with him. He beckons us to remain in his love.
How do we remain in Christ’s love? His answer: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). Somehow obedience (literally, to guard, watch over, keep) to Christ’s commands is the key to union with Christ. Now watch his central command: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Do you see how theology anchors life and love in God’s love for Christ and Christ’s love for us? How should I love others? Is it not with the same love that Christ has for me! Wow, I must choose to remain in Christ’s love.
What will it take for you to embrace God’s love and then love God and neighbor from the inside out and thus remain in Christ?
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