Kumba Ya

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“This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”  John 15:12Image

How do I know Your expectations unless You tell me?  How do I know what is right and wrong unless You tell me?  How do I remember unless You write it down for me to read over and over again, for me to discuss over and over again, for me to meditate upon over and over again?  So, I need commandments.  I need You to tell me Your expectations, Your standards, Your values, Your heart.  I need to know what is right and wrong, what pleases You, and what displeases You.  I need to know what brings joy to Your heart and what displeases Your heart so that I can be a joy bringer to You and not a bearer of displeasure.

Now, You’ve already told me that the way to remain in Your love is to keep Your commandments.  And Your commandments are the same as Your Father’s commandments, which You obeyed.  So, You never changed His commandments, You just obeyed them as they were always meant to be obeyed.  You saw them as they were meant to be seen.  And I need You to give me eyes and a heart to see Your commandments in Your light and to obey them in that light.

Your commandments are everything that You have ever ordered.  Your commandments are every authoritative utterance that You have spoken.  And even if You spoke it to Israel, it is still for my benefit.  ALL Scripture is for my benefit, if I see it with Your eyes and heart and understanding.  Every mandate for building the Tabernacle is for my benefit and to draw me closer to understanding You and myself in that relationship.  Every one of the Ten Commandments is for my benefit in that relationship.

All of Leviticus is for my benefit in that relationship.  Even the stuff about not intermingling seeds or types of cloth.  You have a purpose for me in every commandment.  It’s a tragedy to throw any away as outdated.  Because if I throw something away, I miss the truth behind it.

But I know a summary of all of the commandments and You approved of that summary.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)  And the question was asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  And the parable of the Good Samaritan defines that for me.  My neighbor is whoever the Lord puts in my path, whoever You draw near to me.  It doesn’t matter if it is enemy, stranger, friend, or believing brother.  If they have come into my path, if they are near enough to reach, they are my neighbor.

“This is My order for you, this is My direction for you, this is My commission for you, this is My charge for you- ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.'”  Lord, Your command to me is not just that I love my fellow believer here, but that I love like You loved.  You never just loved by word alone.  You are the Living Word.  You are the Word that we experience.  Even before You came to earth to dwell with man, You intervened on man’s behalf time and time again.  You demonstrated Your love as You delivered Israel and as You provided for them and won battles for them.  But when You came down to earth, You took love to a whole new level.

You loved Your own and sacrificed everything for them.  You came down and showed what self-sacrificial real love looked like.  We could see love, hear love, and touch love.  We could experience love in the love of God, in You.

But it’s this “love one another” that has me today, Lord.  And I really want to understand what You mean by love “one another.”  Sometimes it means specifically fellow believers and sometimes it’s just referring to each other.  And my question is here, if I only love the people who I know are my fellow brothers and sisters in You, and they love me, what happens to all those who aren’t in that circle?

See, I hate the idea of cliques and exclusion.  I hate feeling left out and I hate thinking of others feeling left out.  But I think I have a right perspective on this now.  You just brought something to mind.  And this is where it needs to start.  And then everything else flows off of this relationship.

So, first and foremost, my relationship with You must be right.  I must understand Your love for me.  When I understand that and know how to live in that love and appreciate Your love and presence, then all my other relationships can flow from that.  Because You loved me, I can love others.  Because You gave Yourself for me, I can give myself for others.  You came for my benefit.  I can live for their benefit.

Now, I must have this special bond of sacrificial love for my brothers and sisters in Christ.  We ought to understand each other deeply because we understand You deeply.  We are united in You.  We have this deep bond and can understand one another.  Our love is in the same “plane” so to speak.  Now, if we can live in Your love with one another, we can live in that love with anyone.

Your love must be demonstrated between us as brothers and sisters.  We love each other as You love us not to form a clique, but to be a demonstration.  People ought to be able to look on us and see this safe haven, this place of welcome and love in You.  It’s not a clique although in a lot of “Christian” circles, it becomes a clique and outsiders are shunned and made to feel unwelcome.  But it’s not so here; that was not Your intent.

“They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.  Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  Your love is different from the world’s love.  Our love is to be different from the world’s love.  My love ought to look like Your love.  You ate and talked and spent intimate time with Your disciples.  But, You took them with You to eat and talk and spend intimate time with sinners.  No clique mentality on Your part.  And You were teaching Your disciples to break the chains of that mentality.

Now, what made me think of this is that I have some very close friends in the Lord.  Did you ever have someone who, when you are with them in any way, everything is just always about You, Lord, and it’s the most wonderful thing?  I mean, it’s like walking along with You as Your disciple moment by moment no matter what we are doing.  That “love one another” thing is so beautiful because You are right in the midst of it.  And there is this mutual “dependency” we have on each other in this relationship.  And other people get placed near us, people we haven’t known before, believers and non-believers.  And what happens to them?

Well, one believer saw our closeness.  And she expected that there might be a kind of clique thing that would go on.  But instead, we took her hand, literally, and invited her to join us.  And she did.  And now we’re stronger because of our love for one another.  Now we can love like you love better.

And so, You command us to keep being a spectacle of love, one to another.  Our brotherly and sisterly love ought to be as much of a spectacle as You were.  It ought to be different.  It ought to stand out.  It ought to defy the world’s view and shout Your view.  “This is the love of God!  Look!  We’ll show you!”  And believers will be drawn.  And seekers will be drawn.  And the world will notice.  And the hard-hearted will be repulsed.

But, I’m just to obey.  I don’t have to judge, I just have to be faithful.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ like You loved me.  They’ll help me to do that.  I’ll help them to do it.  You are helping us both.  You will bring my neighbors.  You will put people in my path.  You know who needs Your love through me.  And You know who will best love me in You.  You bring us together for our mutual benefit.  Your command is for me to keep on loving and in that loving, I’ll wait and I’ll watch to get the opportunity to draw others into that love, Your love.

This is such a beautiful truth.  If I look back, it was the love of believers and their love for You and subsequently how I saw Your love for them, that led me to You.  It was the answer I was searching for, that relationship with You I always wanted.  Here it was, demonstrated by the obedience of believers to this command.  And years later, as a believer, it was the greatest difference in my own walk, as I saw this demonstrated in an even greater way, by another believer.  And You took this to a whole new height.  Because someone else took my hand, literally, and cared for me like You would, You touched my heart in such a deep way, I’m changed forever.  I experienced Your love for me through their love for me.  You can’t get any more real than that.  And I can’t stop seeing You in them.  And my prayer is that others see You in me like that.

I’m not sure if this is smoothly cohesive or disjointed somewhat today, Lord.  All I know is that I am so excited about this command, this truth, this injunction.  Oh, give me the grace and power to love my brethren as You loved me.  I can’t do it on my own, I need You.  Sometimes, I’m so tired.  And I’m so grateful that we’re to love one another.  Because, when I’m so tired, and I have no strength, my brother, my sister, can lift me up.  And when they’re so tired, and have no strength, then I can lift them up.  And the reason we can be there for each other is because You are always there for us.  Lord, I am so grateful for the gift of this command.  It’s so comforting to know that You never slumber and You never sleep.  Therefore you are forever watching over me, forever empowering me, forever loving me.  Because of You, Lord, I can do all things, even love one another as You love me.  Thank You, Lord.

 

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