What is the love of Christ?
“I look back over the events of my life and see the hands that carried Moses to his grave lifting me out of mine. In remembering I go back to these places where God met me and I meet him again and I lay my head on his breast, and he shows me the land beyond the Jordan and I suck into my lungs the fragrance of his breath, the power of his presence.”
The message at church yesterday touched on the love of Christ. As the pastor began his sermon – it was about the love of God. I have heard it often in church. Pastor’s message was focused on defining the love of Christ. Specifically, what do we mean when we say we love Christ? I thought, “I know what I mean when I say it.” As the pastor spoke, I had all these thoughts and questions going through my head. I wondered if I had a good understanding of what it meant to love God. How can I possibly know if I do? Can it be recognized? Do I show the love of God to others, to those close to me. Do they sense it? Does God acknowledge it? I wondered if fellow believers had a good grasp on the concept.
When I say I love Christ, I mean I love Him as He loves me. Unconditionally. As it says in Daniel 3, confident that God would save them, the young Hebrew men adamantly told the King that even if God didn’t save them they would still not bow to another God. I love my Lord so much that I prayed earnestly for Him to remove any desire for companionship. It was during my journey – during years of unemployment (not for lack of job searching) – I came to rely wholeheartedly on the God I could not see. Yes, He became the God I could not see, but yet He saw me clearly. He not only saw me, but with a raging fury He chased me day and night, calling me out. Several pastors became messengers, as did Rich Mullins and his music. During this journey, I came to realize the reality of my walk with Christ. I did not need a man, the lusts of the world, a job, or affirmation to feel complete, to feel worthy. It was in that time that the Lord began to chip away at the very core of who and what identified me. If you said the world. You are correct. The moment we exit the womb the world grabs us by the feet and throws us into its very clutches. The world that I was born into was remarkably different from the world my children and grandchildren were born into, thank God, but the mission has not changed.
The Lord unraveled years of socialization into a world that could never satisfy, or be satisfied. It was in those bitter years the Lord had me on a diet of trial, tribulation and honey. Slowly, the Lord was renewing my thoughts, revealing my true identity, teaching me His truths, teaching me to pray, and to accept that my walk with Him was not always about me. It took me a while to recognize that He was re-socializing me. It was indeed a journey full of reflection. Eventually, the Lord did say, “You are ready to go. Leave this place.” And of course, at that point I was not ready, but God, being God, He prepared the path and I set my feet on it – with Him leading the way. It’s easy to understand when someone invests time and energy training an individual that the purpose for the training is to eventually say, “It’s time.” I had a bible study teacher that would always point that out. He’d say something like, “I am training you in the things of God, so you can share the love and knowledge of Christ with others and bring them to the saving knowledge of Christ that brought you here.”
In my encounters with the living God, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, I found comfort and fulfillment that drew me ever closer to my Lord. Unattached, my thoughts could always be focused on Him. If He spoke to me in the middle of the night I was prepared to take notes. It was on this journey that the Lord brought me to the point of surrender and to identify with the King of Kings, as a child of the King, and forever resigned my worldly identify. The Lord took me out of the place I was in for so many years and He set my feet in a new place, a place I could never have imagined and I have a pretty good imagination. In a new place is where He has me now. He’s teaching me new things to build on what He spent years rebuilding.
I am quite familiar with the unconditional love of Christ, and all to familiar with His grace and mercy that flows ever so abundantly – too often in the most undeserving moments – and across circumstances. I pray the Lord will always allow me to show that same love, grace and mercy to others, as He leads and not by how I feel, or what others say I should feel. In your name, Jesus Christ.
The Lord used Rich Mullins, his music and his ministry to teach me. There is still much to learn in this walk with Christ.
“I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you’re doing as ministry. Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not. Your ministry is the way that you love people. And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging. You love people when you call your wife and say, ‘I’m going to be late for dinner,’ instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime, because you know she’s really tired. Loving people – being respectful toward them – is much more important than writing or doing music.”