Here’s the deal. We cannot give or receive love, the essence of God’s greatest command, while we have walls around our hearts. Our walls exist because we have erected them over time to protect ourselves from the pain of life. The problem is that they insulate us from God and each other. I was a master builder. You may be too. I discovered that with my walls in place, my life was more about religion than life. It certainly wasn’t about joy and celebration—this week’s theme. This post is about wall-demolition and, like all things, it’s all about Jesus.
The most scandalous and extravagant gift ever given was Jesus Christ. It was scandalous because the intended recipients were indifferent and even hostile toward the Gift. It was extravagant because of the lengths the Giver went to give it. Prior to Jesus, the distance between God and man was a chasm beyond measurement.
Once upon a time, God’s realm and ours overlapped in Eden, a place where the first man and woman walked in relational intimacy with God. However, they disobeyed and the realms of God and man separated—leaving both the earth and man’s heart subject to futility and death.
Only a being that shared both man’s nature and God’s could restore the union between these realms. Driven by love, God satisfied the overarching laws of eternal justice by coming himself as the Son of Man. Regardless the distance, he himself has become the bridge between the realms.
For there is one God, and one mediator (or bridge) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all… (from) I Timothy 2:5-6
This act of reconciliation was motivated by the driving force of the cosmos—love. Love will one day be vindicated as the primary and unrivaled power of all realms. Some may ask, “How can you talk about a loving God in the presence of so much evil, which a sovereign God could prevent? All I can say is that this question will one day seem ludicrous. One day we will see that the Man of Sorrows has not only saved the tears of the hurting, he has cried them as well.
Abiding in Christ, the True Vine, is the theme of today’s passage. The Mediator himself is restating love’s intention that we abide in him. Abiding means we consciously live in Christ who is our life. In Christ, the realms once again overlap, in our hearts. The unity of heaven and earth has been restored in those who have received the Gift. Abiding connects us with new realities. Many believe and become sinners saved by grace. Others abide and live as saints—God’s sons and friends.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love… These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full… This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you… No longer do I call you slaves; for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from the Father I have made known to you… I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He may give to you. (from John 15:9-16)
This I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:17)
Where I have spoken in his name without love, I have been, at best, religious. Religion is that self-absorbed pursuit of God where there is conviction without compassion, form without substance, and obedience without abiding. This is the one thing that lit Jesus’ fuse. Think I am exagerrating? Take a moment and consider the moneychangers and millstones of Matthew 18:6 and 21:12.
Abiding in Christ makes truth our own and equips us to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Servants who are transformed into sons reflect light. Our stories are updated as our identities are upgraded from servants to sons. We become the light of the world—the compelling message joyfully validating the gospel.
We are a letter (or story)… known and read by all men, not written in ink, but rather by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 3:3)
Abiding in Christ has meant that I simply watch over my heart by receiving the Gift. By the same power with which he entered my life in 1976, he shot down the walls of my heart in 2012, making room for himself in a new way. MwM is all God’s aim. Being the target of his love is not always pleasant, but there is no other way if he is to be Lord. MwM tells some of my story as a prodigal. That event was fairly straightforward. However, my posts are largely the account of Father’s ways of getting an elder brother to join the party. I wanted my family to know the particulars of this story. I wanted them to know that God expands his kingdom one heart at a time and that our hearts are the battlefront of the last great battle.
Father, may we fully receive the gift of your Son. May your Spirit prevail within our hearts until every last barrier to your love is demolished. Overcome every lie regarding Jesus—your gift to us. May we live joyfully and boldly out of our new natures in Christ, bearing the fruit of your love, amending the damage we have done in your name. May love, joy, peace and celebration prevail in Jesus Name. Amen.