Sunday, April 2, 2017

Love's lifestyle

I once read where a gangster in America’s prohibition era inquired about becoming a Christian. When challenged to renounce his criminal lifestyle he baulked at such a thing. His reply, as I recall, was that he wanted to be known a Christian gangster.

In the mind of some is a similar misunderstanding of God’s grace in Christ. When Jesus summarised His lifestyle requirements as love for God and love for others. This seemed to be a charter for self-determination and indulgence. They could ‘love’ and God’s grace would still cover them. The mind of men and women is twisted, corrupt and seeks to be a god unto itself. To read the New Testament is to grasp the battles those responsible for discipleship faced. Writing to the church at Ephesus Paul called upon them to remember that to walk with the Lord required a walk different to the walk of the unconverted. For the unsaved have their understanding darkened and are alienated from the life of God within because of heart blindness (Ephesians 4:18). This form of living meant no boundaries, no moral code and a hardening of their sensitivities towards others. Then the apostle declares “You have not so learned [about] Christ [and His call on your life] Ephesians 4:20.

If there was ever an abused word in any language it must be ‘love!’ It is used to influence Christians into accepting such things as same-sex marriage, euthanasia and sexual practices specifically denounced in Scripture. For the proponents of such behaviours ‘love’ is the guidelines and the over-arching battering ram to make Christians agree - or else! Fortunately, God’s word cannot be changed! Fortunately, there are those who stand tall in defending it even at great personal cost. Fortunately, the majority of Bible reading and believing Christians decry the abuse of the word love and Scripture. Who knows how long before all followers of Christ will endure the ‘love’ of those who have darkened understanding, ignorant minds and blind hearts.

No one can say they love God and trample on His lifestyle calling. True, when we first turn to Him and enter into His grace and salvation there are many things of which we are unaware. He is very patient with us. However, God’s Holy Spirit will lead you out of ignorance into knowledge and then you become accountable. You cannot worship God and play in the Devil’s yard. You cannot say “I love Jesus” and commit murder. A person cannot bully or defame or hate then imagine God is pleased when that person takes the Lord's Supper. No-one can be a paedophile and kneel before God’s throne and talk about loving God. No one will be able to say “I love God” and yet rob Him of His glory, shred His word and cripple His Church’s testimony through immorality. No one! No one! No one!

A follower of Christ, whatever his or her status in life, has to come to grips with Christ’s definition of love. It is vastly different to that of the World’s religions or those without religion. New believers need to realise while we are free from the Mosaic Laws, Judgements and Statutes, we are actually under a higher calling. The Law of Christ, Love for His Father and for others, liberates the spirit and reigns in the soul. Sure there are times when we trip up and fall short. Yes, there are times when ignorance gives grief. Undoubtedly, the World, the Carnal nature and the Devil entice us into error. BUT! Love for the Christ of Calvary who gave His life on our behalf to redeem us won’t allow us to continue in that arena. His love for us has provided a way for our love of Him to escape the muck and murk of mistake, ignorance and stupidity. It is called repentance! It leads to a deeper gratitude. This in turn leads to a stronger devotion. This is fed by a craving to honour the Lord. When this envelopes us we want to understand and live out His Word. As that knowledge permeates then liberates, cleanses and dictates our lifestyle. In the midst of all this there is a realisation that love of God protects, enriches, empowers and propels the believer into a deep appreciation of His grace.

Lord, may my love for you colour my love for others according to your word. May I reach out to your love when I crash in my Christian life and grasp it through repentance! In the arena of my life when there is a cost to pay because of obedience to Christ’s word, please, let your l0ve to me shrink the cost into nothing but a nuisance and an opportunity to  share your love. Amen!

©Ray Hawkins April 2nd 2017.

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