December 26, 2017
"‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.'" John 15:9 (NIV)
A friend of mine recommended a TV program she was sure I'd like. It didn't seem interesting to me, but on her recommendation, I watched the first episode. As suspected, I didn't like it. So I passed on watching it again.
But she insisted, "Please give it another chance. I'm sure you'll love it."
Because I trusted my friend, I watched the next episode. That time something caught my interest. So I watched another episode, and I started to enjoy the characters. They were quirky and intriguing. The more I watched the show, the more I loved it. My friend was right!
I'd judged that show based on my superficial observations, but once I really got to know the story, I was hooked.
Isn't this the case with many things?
We easily make judgment calls, certain we won't like something - whether it's music, a book, food or people. Then, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because we never really get to know what we judge at the start.
Jesus can be like this, too. We've just finished a season of celebrating Jesus' birth, and for some, seeing Jesus as a baby in a manger is as close as they want to get. Perhaps the grown-up Jesus seems a bit intense or demanding or narrow-minded. So it's easier to stay at a distance from Him.
But if we keep Jesus at arm's length, we'll never get to know Him. And if we don't get to know Him, we won't love Him.
If we want to move faith from our heads to our hearts, we must fall in love with Jesus.
To fall in love with Jesus, we must know Him. Not superficially, but deeply. That kind of knowledge takes time and persistence, just like any good relationship. Jesus invites us to abide in His love - rest, stay, tarry - not rush past it. In John 15:9, He said, "‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.'"
Many of us equate loving Jesus with obedience. Obedience is surely part of showing we love Him; even Jesus said that. But the love Jesus wants is our affections, our emotions, the longing of our hearts. How do we get there?
For years, my faith was academic. I knew who Jesus was, believed He was the Son of God who died for my sins and chose to follow Him. I studied the Bible and did my best to make good choices. But there was always a formality about my faith.
Everything changed when I started knowing Jesus as a real person, not just someone to be studied. When I read about Jesus standing by a shamed woman, daring the self-righteous to convict her, I imagined Him doing that for me and loved Him.
When Jesus stood at a well, talking to a woman everyone shunned, I pictured Him talking to me despite the potential rumors and loved Him.
When Jesus stopped and healed a woman who in faith touched His cloak and was healed, I knew He'd stop for me, and I loved Him for that.
When Jesus endured false accusations, was betrayed by His friends, rejected by His own, was beaten, crucified and even experienced His Father's face turned away so I could be free from the curse of sin, I loved Him more.
I could go on and on. There are so many reasons to love Jesus, but here is a truth to embrace: Jesus is real, and He loves us. And for us to experience that love and offer it back, we need to know Him. Really know Him.
As we stand at the door of a new year, will you join me in seeking to know Jesus more?
Lord, thank You for loving me first. Thank You for sending Your Son so I could know You as more than a distant God, but someone I can love like a friend. Help me know You more and love You more. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:17b-19, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV)
Sometimes it's hard to know how to love and live authentically for Christ. Wendy Blight's newest book, I Am Loved: Walking in the Fullness of God's Love, releases today! It can help you identify the places in your life that ache for transformation as you experience God's love in a real, personal way. It's also our next Online Bible Study! To find out more or join our upcoming study of I Am Loved, click here.
Looking to find true soul rest in the arms of Jesus, even in the midst of our busy lives? Then you'll enjoy reading the first chapter of Glynnis Whitwer's newest book, Doing Busy Better, here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What's one thing Jesus has done for you that inspires you to love Him?
© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.