ABIDING IN CHRIST'S LOVE, A VITAL EXTRAVAGANCE OF TIME:
It has always seemed a little extravagant to me. My sense has been that the notion of contemplative prayer, pursuing the Father and experiencing His presence and love was a luxury I didn’t have time for. Now don’t get me wrong, I spend hours in prayer daily. I experience the presence of Jesus and the Father. My prayers have been full of doctrinal affirmations, asserting the truth and warring for the Kingdom. As I have meditated on the words of Jesus, I have discovered that He invites His followers to abide in His love and I have changed my way of thinking.
Ultimately, abiding in Christ’s love means that Jesus’ followers will love one another. I find that I rush too quickly to express love for other members of the body of Christ. To be honest, I feel that sometimes my love seems to be superficial. My acts of kindness maybe more driven out of my need to belong or to earn value from the Lord and others, rather than a true expression of Christ’s love. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you, abide in my love.” Jn 15:9 What I realize is that Jesus’ love came out of His experience of being loved by His Father. I believe that abiding in Christ’s love begins with a regular practice of experiencing the Father’s and the Son’s love for me. I am finding that my practice of prayer is changing, as I am pursuing the presence of the Father and listening for His voice and affirmation of His love for me. It may seem extravagant, but isn’t that what the apostle John asserted when he said, “What manner of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the sons of God!” 1Jn 3:1 I am loved and accepted in the beloved.
So many people; so little time to love them all! I am often overwhelmed by the needs of those around me. How do I choose which ones to express love to? Jesus said, “If you keep My commands you will abide in My love, just as I kept My Father’s commands and abide in His love.” Jn 15:10 Earlier in His last evening with His followers Jesus said that He loved the Father and did exactly what the Father commanded Him. Jn 14:30,31 Three times Jesus told His followers, “If you love Me you will keep My commands.” Jn 14:15,21,23 It is evident to me that Jesus responded to His Father’s love by loving His Father and obeying His commands. If I am going to abide in Christ’s love, I need to allow the Father and the Son to love me and respond to their love by loving Jesus and obeying His commands. As I spend time in prayer, listening for what Jesus is doing and saying, I receive direction on who to show love to and how to love them. Jesus longs to disclose Himself to His followers. He promises that He will. Jn 14:21 He said that He would no longer call them slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. Instead, Jesus said He would call them friends because He will show me what He is doing. Jn 14:14,15 As I respond to Jesus’ love by loving Him, I will obey His commands and He will show me who to love and how to love those around me.
All of this takes time. My love for others comes out of Jesus’ love for me and my response of love to Jesus, listening for His voice and obeying it. It is an intimate relationship of oneness with the Son who invites me to abide in Him and promises that He will abide in me. Jn 15:4,5 This I believe is what Jesus was talking about when Jesus said, “Abide in My love.
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