February 23, 2014

Cheering our team

We just watched our country win a gold medal in Olympics hockey. Followers and Canadian fans are united in their support and joy, leaping to their feet in celebration of their hockey idols. I wonder if anyone would televise the followers of Jesus Christ joyfully celebrating in united love for God and for one another?

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)

It should happen more often than it does, but like other forms of obedience, our selfishness and pride get in the way. The only cure for being sidetracked is operating with the mind of Christ . . .

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3–8)

Hockey fans don’t need models to know how to cheer for their team. However, Christian love and unity has no spontaneous pattern. We who are sinners need to see what the love of God looks like, so God Himself gave us the template . . .

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1–2)

Even though these verses tell us to “imitate” God, it is impossible to mimic someone we do not know or have never seen. It is only in relationship to Him through faith in Jesus Christ that makes mimicking possible. When it comes to walking in love, this ability to imitate God proves that the one who does it is spiritual reborn and knows God . . .

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:7–16)

I read these words and know for certain that I cannot love like God does. Apart from Jesus, my love is entirely inadequate. I am unable to do it without His Spirit. I also need to be certain that I am securely loved by Him, and therefore able trust Him to take care of everything that loving others will cost me.

Hockey fans rose early to support their team on the other side of the world. That cost some sleep. For those who went to Sochi, it cost them money and more. For Christians who are willing to love one another, it costs all our own plans and desires. It may even cost us our lives, as it did Jesus. However, loving God keeps us from idolatry, and as Colossians 3:14 says, when we put on His love and love others, it “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

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