The Deeper Life Rhythm to Love Others Well
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.– John 15:7-11 (ESV)
C. S. Lewis, reflecting on his own long journey to conversion from an atheist to agnostic to a believer in Jesus, confessed, that after his conversion, he could no longer see people as ordinary anymore, as mere mortals, but as immortals, whose glory must be our burden. He explained, there are no ordinary people…you have never talked to a mere mortal…but it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit…everlasting splendors…(therefore) our charity must be real and costly love…for next to the blessed sacrament, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
The deeper life leads to mission. The deeper life is not a moment, or devotion or an event, it is a perpetual life rhythm of abiding in Christ, abiding in his love, whose result is always mission. When we are brought to terms with God’s unequivocal demonstration of his love for us through the sacrifice of his Son (Romans 5:8), there is no other recourse, but to also come to terms with the inherent value of every one of our neighbors. This is central to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Helper (John 14:16-17), who is in us to remind us of the firm reality of the good news of God’s love for a sinful and broken humanity. He first affirms God’s relentless love for us personally, as he forms in us a love for others.
This is the point of Jesus discourse, in John 15, when he speaks about him being the vine and we his branches. He tells us that it is the will of the Father, who is the vinedresser, that we, as his branches, bear much fruit to his glory (15:8). This fruit, in the context, is to obey his commandment to love one another. He makes it clear that without him, we cannot bear this fruit of love for others. We must, first, abide in him, by abiding in his love for us. This abiding in his unbelievable love, is what, then, spurs us to mission love people well, and love them to Him.
The Deeper Life, therefore, is a growing life rhythm of abiding more in Christ, abiding more in his love for you, that will inevitably lead to more love for the broken, and more mission. We must first, though, abide in his love for ourselves. My dear brothers, it is no surprise to us, that one of the greatest distractions to our life in Christ and his mission, is when our enemy rages war in our own minds when he instigates feelings of unworthiness, guilt, shame and doubt, due often to failure of sin in our lives. Yet, while that war rages, the Spirit of Truth, the Helper, will whisper what is yet firm and unchanging, “abide in my love.” The Bible is clear (Hebrews 10:14) that, through a single offering (his own death), Christ has perfected, positionally forever, those who are being sanctified, progressively. Christ has offered his sacrifice for our sin, once and for all. God’s relentless love has been manifested to us. Our condemnation has been removed from us, and His righteousness has been imputed in us. Done! Hallelujah! Though the battles for our daily sanctification may still rage, and it is a battle we must fight in ongoing repentance, faith, and obedience, the final war has been won. His love manifested in his sacrifice will prove faithful in the end.
Let us, then, hear the voice of the Spirit of truth, in the rhythms of deeper life, early in the morning, late into the night, and all the day long, saying, “abide in my love,” that joy and peace might reign in us and that he may spur us to see our neighbors, not as ordinary mere mortals, but as “everlasting splendors” whose future glory is our burden, and that in obedience to him, we must love well, and love them to Him.
What is your deeper life rhythm? What are the opportunities around us where a deeper abiding in his love can help us love others well?