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Submitted to Love

There is One who heals. There is One who delivers. We do not bring the dead back to life. There is only One who does, and it is the Name that is above every other name. When we give our lives to Christ, we are crucified with Him on the cross and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). What we bring to the table is a willing heart, a heart that says to God, “Here I am, send me.” If we get into the business of attributing God’s power to ourselves without the foundation of humility that says, “Jesus, apart from You I can do nothing,” then we walk down a slippery slope.

 

A Holy God

 

To be holy is to be different. We are holy because God has made us so in Christ Jesus. Yet, even when the things that are to be fulfilled come to pass, and when we have entered into eternity, still we will say to God, “You are holy! You are different!” A perspective that looks at our glorification in Christ through the lens of the self is warped; we know God is self-less, therefore to be glorified like Christ when He returns means the self will be done away with entirely. We will see God in the fullness of His glory, and it will be impossible for our eyes to look inward.


To think of that moment as a time where we can finally look at ourselves as God is an idea deceived by sin. We will not be worshipping one another or ourselves--that idea in of itself sounds very strange. We even see this with John and the angel at the end of Revelation, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” (Revelation 22:8-9 ESV). God is the One who will be glorified.


We see this all throughout the Book of Revelation. There is only One who is worthy to open the scroll. There is only One who is worthy to be worshipped. “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:13-14 ESV). There is only One who will be worshipped in the end, and it is God. Not our own designs. Not our own achievements. Not our amount of healings, prophecies, or works. But God alone. What crown can remain and not be cast at Christ’s feet when we behold Him?


Would it make sense for God to deliver us in the way that He has, and then step back and become irrelevant once we enter heaven? No, that wouldn’t make sense. Nor is it logical for God to make Himself the central part of our lives in mortality, just to step down from focus in eternity. God will only be magnified when we enter into eternity, which should humble us even more now, considering we cannot even see but a pin needle of His glory in this present darkness. If we will see more clearly in heaven, and praise Him all the more there, should we not then humble ourselves to the fullest degree here? Therefore, we can never go wrong in the path of humility.


We see this evidenced and lived out by Christ, the perfect human. It is written, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.” (Philippians 5:5-8 NASB). Jesus, being God, humbled Himself under God the Father’s hand and was obedient, even to the point of death on a cross.


If Christ emptied Himself of His own authority and submitted to the Father’s, how much more must we--who are evil--do so? Jesus provided us with the perfect example of what it means to walk in step with God, and it is a walk paved in submission. God doesn’t want our works, or our good behavior, or our money, or our purity, or our sacrifices, or our time, or our effort, or our boldness, or our worship--He wants our love. And love is intertwined with trust, and to trust means to let go of control. And it is when we have love that fruit is produced within us. Without love, even if we have the perfect-looking walk of faith, overflowing with authority, gifts, works, and callings, it still means nothing. Without love, we will be told, “depart from Me, I never knew you.”


The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That is what life is all about. And this relationship of love with God is something that can only be experienced on a personal, individual level--God does not build His relationships with His children on any other foundation but Himself. He has no grandkids or stepchildren; the Father wants to be exactly that to us--our Father in heaven.

 

A Being to Encounter

 

This is the love that is shown to Christ, and Christ gives that gift to us through the cross, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.” (John 15:9 ESV). Just like the love we share with others, love is something that cannot be truly defined in its entirety. But the Bible provides us with a powerful picture of what it means to love: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV).


A fun exercise that can be done is replacing each instance talking about love in the previous verse with Christ’s name, Jesus. His name fits perfectly in the passage because He is love. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:15-16 ESV). In 1 Corinthians, we see that for love to be love, it must never end. God alone has always existed and always will exist, thus He is the pure essence of what it means to love because He Himself never ends. Thus, God gives meaning to what love is. And, while we cannot entirely define love in its fullest sense, we are still commanded to love nonetheless.


In Jesus, we see the perfect explanation of love. Jesus walked in truth, He was humble, He was kind, He was merciful, He forgave others, He fed the hungry, He healed the sick and the broken, He served others, He gave up His life for His enemies. In every instance of Christ’s life, to the most microscopic scale of time, He was living in perfect servitude to others. From the words He spoke, to His death at the cross and resurrection, Jesus defined what love is. Love, at its deepest meaning, is not an emotion to be defined or even a feeling to be experienced, rather, it is a Being to be encountered. This is why it is so hard to place a firm definition on what exactly love is.


This mystery is the same with people. We can know someone, and know certain people particularly well--mainly those who we love--but the accuracy and depth in which we can describe them will inevitably fall short of who they truly are in the fullest sense. To actually know someone requires an intentional, living relationship of love. And love isn’t something that is confined but is something that is continually growing to new depths and new understandings; thus, love is grown by present intentionality (presence) and effort. Any lack of love we have toward God isn’t His fault, for we know Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (NKJV), along with the truth that God gave the life of His only Son to be with us. God’s presence is fully available to be found, even now, but does He have our presence?


I can spend all the time I want to with someone, or research everything there is to know about them, but if I do not spend intentional time with them, then the depth of the relationship will probably be pretty shallow, if not non-existent. Hence, when God tells us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, He is telling us specifically:

  • To love God with all your heart: Like the heart is to the body, loving God with all your heart means placing Him at the center of your life. Make Him the core of your existence, from which your life flows, and let Him permeate every part of your world.

  • To love God with all your soul: The Greek used in Luke 10:27 is psuché (psoo-khay), which also means breath. To love God with our soul is to walk in the reality that God is with us throughout every moment. Just like how we are always continually breathing, to love God with all our soul is to spend our life present with Him as He is with us, knowing that He is Immanuel and is closer than the very air we breathe.

  • To love God with all your mind: To live is to think and to believe, and to love God with all our mind is to dive ever-deeper into the oceans of intellection that explore the reality of our Creator. To contemplate God’s nature is the supreme ethic of the mind, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To love God with all our mind is to see and imagine His hand working in all things, constantly meditate on who He is, and be perpetually refreshed in the truth that He is incomprehensibly great and good.

  • To love God with all your strength: We all have God-given potential and gifts. To love God with all our strength is to commit our gifts and abilities to glorifying His name. It means infiltrating whatever area in life one is called for the glory of God and the advance of the Gospel, so that Christ’s name may be lifted high and seen by the world.


God wants a relationship of love with us; He is a consuming fire, and once that fire burns, will consume all aspects of our existence if we let it. We can go throughout the entirety of our lives with only this one thing--a relationship of love with the living God--and that would be enough. Jesus is enough. Yet, a relationship with Christ invariably leads us to other people. God’s love that is sparked in us by faith produces a heart of obedience. Because God is so good, we will not be able to hold back His love from others. “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21 ESV).


Thus, out of God’s love pours forth the fruits of the Spirit, and also all kinds of healings, miracles, and giftings--all to point others and ourselves back to His love. Jesus says to follow Him because--like love--a relationship with Christ is a journey, and to love Him means to embrace the beauty of the unknown and to experience the mystery that is the great I AM.