“I’m going to be a Power Ranger when I grow up!” declared our four-year-old granddaughter. “You can be anything you want to be,” assured her dad.
She then reversed his earlier question. “Daddy, what do you want to be when you grow up?”Caught somewhat off guard, he responded that he was already grown, with a family and a growing business of his own. After duly considering this, our granddaughter asked, “But Daddy, what did you forget to be?”
Our heavenly Father might want to ask a similar question. We might claim to be following in the light and truth of the gospel, but fail miserably to do so. Sometimes our actions don’t quite measure up to our commitment because we’ve forgotten how to love our fellow believers. Satan, the father of lies and author of confusion, delights in filling our minds with complaints, dragging us down into the “poor me” syndrome.
Jesus provides the antidote for this: “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). When we leave the darkness of sin behind, we are to walk in Christ, the Light of the world. Obedience cannot be left behind, for in our keeping His commandments, God’s love is perfected in us (v. 5). Many of the Jews continued in darkness, refusing to permit the light of the gospel to shine upon them. We may find ourselves groping for light but walking in that darkness when we fail to extend God’s love to our brothers (v. 11).
What inspires us to act, to serve, even as Christ served? Love, a motivational force that requires us to respond in kind. The Spirit’s leading inspires us to action through love. Just as without faith it is impossible to please God, so without love it is impossible to fulfill His purpose for us. We may find ourselves on the fringe, not wanting to let go of that darkness entirely — one foot in, one foot out.
Paul’s admonition to the church at Corinth sends a message to us all. We may do good deeds, have successful careers, quote scriptures, understand the prophets and their message, and master multiple languages. But all of these accomplishments are nothing without love (1 Corinthians 13).
It’s impossible to be a vibrant 21st century church without having vibrant 21st century Christians. When we walk in the light of love, we can truly function as a vibrant church, Christ centered, Spirit formed, and Bible based.
May we express gratitude to God for the benefits of His love, emulating that love in our relationships with others.
But how do we love those individuals who tend to chafe, to push our buttons, to intrude in our personal space, and who are downright nasty toward us? Do we have a high-hattitude toward them? Do we have a combattitude, always looking for a fight or confrontation? Rather, we must view such people through the filter of the love of Jesus, who lifted the downtrodden, consoled the grieving, helped the weak, and relieved their suffering. Sibling rivalry should never be a part of our church families. Jesus operated with a servant attitude, and so should we, regarding the needs of others above our own.
The entire Bible is God’s love story, and it’s all about Jesus: His part in Creation; the Genesis 3:15 promise of a Savior-Messiah; the words of the prophets regarding the same; His coming, ministry, loving sacrifice, and future earthly reign as Lord. Christ is the Light of the world, but some people prefer the dark. Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
The old commandment was obeyed from a legalistic standpoint — to the letter and with many added, man-made restrictions and traditions. Jesus gave us a new commandment, yet not new as it was the same as the old: two great commands — love God and love one another — now patterned after Jesus’ love and administered through His Spirit (Matthew 22:34-40; John 13:34; 1 John 3:11; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).
The first great commandment (love God) demands that we serve no other gods and make none either, that He be honored. We are to revere and remember His holy name and Sabbath. The other commands make reference to our relationships with others: love your neighbor, treat them right, and don’t transgress against them. If we love our fellow man, we will in no wise slander, murder, violate, covet, or misuse them in any way. The new commandment is the old commandment redefined by love, motivated by love, enacted by love.
Do we consider ourselves to be “grown up” Christians? Or has Satan crippled us, cutting our Spirit supply and replacing it with his lies of false doctrine, with combattitudes instead of attitudes motivated by the love of God? Do we love enough to confront when necessary? Do we do so with a loving attitude, or speak with high-hattitudes from our self-righteous perch on our self-appointed judgment bench?
What have we forgotten to be? To be like Jesus! Christ should be central to our existence. Everything we do should be focused on and approved by Him. Because God so loved this world, He left us the legacy of His written Word and the promise that His Son, the living Word, would return to claim us as His own for eternity.
May we not forget to be a vibrant 21st century church by being vibrant 21st century Christians in service to our Lord, motivated by God’s great love.