I was talking to another believer not long ago and we were having a discussion about love. As Christians, we both agreed we individually have a desire to increase our capacity to love others.
Apostle Paul prayed in the book of Ephesians asking God for us this very same thing. Paraphrased, he asked God on our behalf that we might grow into the fullness of love or grow into a greater capacity for love. He shared with the Philippians the essence of his prayer for them and us.
And this is my prayer: that your love may more and more overflow in fullness of knowledge and depth of discernment, so that you will be able to determine what is best and thus be pure and without blame for the Day of the Messiah (CJB)
This is important for Christian believers to understand and apply practically to our lives. Armed with the knowledge of this prayer from Apostle Paul we should begin to stir ourselves. Each of us should ask “how do I know if I’m growing in love?” What are the signs I should look for? Is there a tool somewhere that I can use to help measure love?
In our conversation neither my friend I had an immediate answer to these questions. We decided we would both meditate on them and follow up in another conversation. So I began to look for the answer.
While meditating, the first scripture that came to mind was John 15:12-13.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
The word friends is plural meaning more than one. For a point of clarification this scripture is not talking about someone physically dying as some would think. If so perhaps you would get only one opportunity to die and that likely for one friend. So there would be no need for friends to be plural. But here the scripture is talking more about your dying to your own will for the sake of carrying out the will of your friends.
In Philippians 2:1 (MSG) we find an example of just what laying down one’s life for his friends.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Here Jesus is setting up and example for us to follow. When our friends ask something of us. Are we willing to stop what we are doing and respond affirmatively to their request? This statement is made in the context of the loving and caring relationship not just any other relationship.
Sometime ago I witnessed an amazing example of a man walking out this commandment in his everyday life. This man would not be considered the “religious” type. He was a believer is Jesus Christ but he did not regularly attend church. He had a few personal habits that many believers would frown upon because he both drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes in abundance. Nevertheless, he had acquired an amazing lifestyle discipline that is to be desired.
Whenever he heard his wife call his name, or ask him to do something; within seconds he would immediately stop what he was doing and move towards the sound of her voice to respond to her request. He did this consistently not within minutes but within seconds of hearing her voice!
It didn’t matter what he was doing at the time. He would stop watching sports on TV, reading the news, sitting, eating or whatever he was doing to respond to her. He habitually put his interests aside to meet hers!
Classifying Someone as Friend?
Jesus defines His friends this way. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
What’s even more interesting is that friends first occupy the positions of servants. Servants then prove themselves to be worthy of elevation to be called friends of God.
In John 15:12-13 we find the biblical answer to our questions and the proven tool to measure our love. This scripture is given as our practical and valid indicator light of whether or not we are growing in love.
The sign of someone being filled with the full measure of love is much like when your car is low on gas and you put gas in the tank. The primary indication or sign that the gas tank is full is when the gas nozzle clicks and shut off. Until this occurs the car’s tank still has room for you to add more gas into it.
In the same sense until you and I lay down our life for our friends; we still have room to be filled with more love. We still have room to put ourselves aside, and help others get ahead. We still have room to not be obsessed with getting our own advantage. We still have room to forget ourselves long enough to lend a helping hand to someone else.
Now how do you measure your capacity for love? Are you empty or full of love? And finally, when we increase our capacity of love, we become filled more with God. How is that? Haven’t you read:
1 John 4:8:
Those who do not love, do not know God; because God is love. (CJB)
(Scripture references from the Message Bible, the Complete Jewish Bible)
Just over 2,ooo years ago we first experienced the manifested presence of Jesus the son of God among us in the earth. We know that after Jesus completed His work that His Father gave Him to do that He left the earth. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. However Jesus did not leave us without the presence of God in the earth. He did not leave us as orphans. He promised before leaving that He would send to us the Holy Spirit of God (the promise of His Father) to be with us during His absence. Jesus kept His promise to us and had His Father God send to us His Holy Spirit.
So today as promised we have the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in the earth dwelling within believers of Jesus Christ. But there is more of God to come. We can next expect the presence of God the Father to come and dwell in the midst of believers in the earth! But the Father will not dwell in the midst of everyone. God the Father has chosen to dwell in a unique place and among a unique people. He will dwell in the midst of those who comprise the one new humanity that Jesus Christ created for this very purpose.
Ephesians: 2:15 (Amplified Bible)
15 By abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled]; that He from the two might create in Himself one new man [one new quality of humanity out of the two], so making peace.
Ephesians 2:21-22 (Complete Jewish Bible)
21 In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple in union with the Lord. 22 Yes, in union with him, you yourselves are being built together into a spiritual dwelling-place for God!
When God the Father comes, He will bring with Him His own accommodations. He will bring with Him His own city: the city of God, the Heavenly New Jerusalem.
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Unity is Not Optional
As The body of Jesus Christ or the church; we are each responsible for and bound to each other. As a body we have been bound together in a collective unity and as the Apostle Paul says we are to keep our unity through the bonds of Peace. We Must Maintain Our Spiritual Unity Within the Body of Christ. Why? It is absolutely the vital pre-requisite to having God the Father come and dwell in our midst!
We explore the foundation of the “One New Humanity” that Jesus Christ created in Himself as we look at what the bible says about the “new man.” The Bible talks about us becoming a “new man” as an individual when we receive salvation in Jesus Christ believing and having faith that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. But did you know that the bible also talks about a corporate “one new humanity” or collective of persons as well?. God’s purpose in creating a new man is to dwell by His Spirit in the new man as an individual. God’s purpose in creating a “new humanity” is to dwell on earth in the midst of a corporate entity as God the Father.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. KJV
Are you a part of the One New Humanity?
© 2016 Dr. Marcia Williams All Rights Reserved
The world seems to be awash with conflict. The secular world proposes the solution of peacekeeping in response to conflict and war. Then certainly Jesus Christ who is the Prince of Peace must have provided his own people with an appropriate, effective and strategic response to wars and rumors of wars. He did. His strategy is called peacemaking.Continue reading…
Peacekeeper vs Peacemaker: Where Do You Sit?
Today throughout the world we’re constantly hearing of wars and rumors of wars on national and global scales. Even locally we hear of conflicts occurring and escalating more and more. We hear of conflicts from our children but not just ordinary after school fist fights like in times past. Continue reading…
The church has largely ignored its role as the leader and solution to conflict. Sadly we have not seen biblical peacemaking inside the church, even amongst our own. Many are more familiar with the world’s peacekeeping strategies than with the Prince of Peace’s peacemaking strategy. The world also has yet to see the church implement biblical peacemaking. In fact the world is yearning to see it especially today. Continue reading…