This is a part of a series
- A warning on government leadership, accountability and transparency (final post in series)
- Love, politics, leadership and democracy
- Love (first post)
I have had a profound realization recently. It has been bubbling up for two or three months and tonight I’m ready to publicly put down a marker in my life, to say that I choose this over that and I never want to look back or go back.
Some time back, a few months, I was at a church event and someone prophesied something about a cake being rolled and reshaped… and then he said that it was my love that was doing the rolling.
And over the months since then I’ve mulled this. At first I thought he meant that my love for others means I pray for them and then their lives change. So in that way my love shapes their lives.
But I’ve come to see that it’s something else. It’s profound.
My love rolls me!
My love for any future children I will have has caused me to plan to restrain myself with my (future) wife, to respect her and God and ourselves… because that leaves a legacy that our kids can aspire to. Instead of satiating my own need, I will be delaying my own desire for the sake of any future children, so that they can grow up well.
My love for Christian (people at church) causes me to attend churches and pray and intercede and connect those people to God’s manifest presence. Instead of complaining how the church is not meeting my needs or not healing the attendees, instead I try to connect them to the Holy Spirit so that they can evolve as a church and become the spotless bride that Jesus Christ intended.
My love for the people around me means I argue back, I stand up for what is right, I protect the innocent when necessary. If I don’t stand up for what is right, who will? As Julian Assange says: courage is contageous. As Jesus Christ said: let your light shine SO THAT people SEE your good deeds… and then they will praise your Father in Heaven.
My love for other people means I spend a lot of time seeking God’s view on things so that I can help other people. I seek His view because in my experience He always knows what to do.
My love for other people means I spend much less time talking and I listen to people now… when in earlier years of my life I would have been very busy talking and telling and trying to change the other person.
You know what… I’ve come to learn this… that if I want people to listen to me, then I have to listen to them FIRST.
My love for others means that instead of spending all my money on myself, I give lots away. I take the time to consider life through the eyes of other people, to see what is next for them, to hear what they are struggling with.
The discovery of this kind of love has utterly changed me. My compulsion to love other people has changed me. My compulsion to love other people is rolling me into something new!
The promised new covenant
And this change in my heart is a sign of the new covenant…
Ezekiel 11:19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh
Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes
31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
And we know that the law is summed up in one command
Galatians 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
The big surprise to me is how He has changed me. Bit by bit I found myself making different choices.
I started sitting next to people. Just sitting… waiting to see if they needed to talk to someone. I stopped having agendas of what I think should happen and I began to listen to them and hear about their walk with God in their life.
And I’ve been more willing to fight back and be very assertive in other situations where I previously would have walked away and simply protected myself. I stay and fight because I care for the people who are being abused.
When did this happen?
What blows me away is that this change did not occur overnight and it did not happen because there was a lightning bolt from Heaven. It was within me, inside me, a love for other people, a love that just grows and grows. It has been a process of healing and growth.
A few nights ago I heard God whisper this scripture to me
Ephesians 5:28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
It changed something in me, as God’s spoken words always do.
My first realization was this… I need to love myself. And the second was this… I need to love her (the future Mrs) as I love myself. Those words touched me. What would that look like, what would I do to myself, what would I do to her?
My love for her – the future woman – was rolling me. Again. 🙂
Again… it was my love that was shaping me, moulding me and rolling me. Just as that prophetic word said it was.
Loving my enemy?
Now… let’s keep some perspective. I can’t say that I love my enemy and would be able to pray for those persecuting me. No. Sorry. I tried that and it didn’t work. I’m not going down that road again. Now I much prefer…
Jeremiah 5:14 Therefore this is what the LORD God Almighty says: “Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.
Revelations 11:5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die.
But… His work in me is not finished and maybe that kind of love will come at some time in future. Maybe. But frankly, I doubt it.
NOTE: If you are a bad guy reading this and you took advantage of my innocence previously, you should not expect the same easy ride as before, if you come and try your luck again. Start with an apology – and we can see where we go from there.
The enemy’s heart – selfish pleasure
So… tonight… for the first time ever… I spent some time deeply understanding the heart of the enemy, the devil, satan, and his motto is quite literally this: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” I’m not kidding, that is his stated motto.
His kingdom is based on self. Self aggrandizement. Self with few or no outside limits placed on the our desires.
His kingdom teaches us to desire complete freedom to express ourselves with no one else able to say “no” to us. Our adverts encourage us to “control” every aspect of our lives. It’s all about us and how we look. Self.
And I see this same desire in what some people call “libertarianism” when it is extreme and they demand
- “small government” with no regulations to limit people’s choices, Self
- the government social and medical safety net is removed so that people pay less taxes, Self
- the government should no longer provide any support the poor and to cancel programs to help the disadvantaged so that people pay less taxes, Self
- when they try to cut the taxes for the wealthy elite instead of asking them to carry a greater share of the burden in caring for others who were less fortunate than themselves. Self.
NOTE: 16 April 2012 Christians Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government?
Self also evident in literature about abortion, when we are encouraged to “assert control over our own body”. But if the abortion has no medical reason like saving the life of the mother, you are saying that your body is more important than the life of a person, a child, a human being created in God’s image. Self.
The enemy’s kingdom clearly says that we exist for our own pleasure. No. We are not created just for our own pleasure. Other people are not created just for our pleasure. It struck me so clearly, that is the danger in pornography! The message pornography sends is that sex is just about our own pleasure. Self.
Now hold on… I’m not against pleasure. I like to enjoy myself. It’s fun to watch tv and enjoy music or a glass of wine. Whatever. But pleasure is not what we exist for. We exist to love God, to be loved by Him, and to love one another as we love ourselves.
Empty me Lord, fill me with You
As I read and understood the enemy’s heart and his kingdom, I began to pray “empty me Lord Jesus Christ“. I don’t know where those words came from. I just said it. It was a very natural prayer.
NOTE: That prayer is NOT a desire to cease to exist. I know that when you become a Christian the opposite is true! As a result of love for other people I now STAND UP more, I let my light SHINE, I encourage others to SHINE! We are to be salt and light and water and fruit to this dying world. Jesus Christ came to give us all life… and life ABUNDANTLY.
Seeing the heart of the enemy, the filth he drip feeds into our minds each day… I recognized that same heart is in many of the things I do in my life. (It’s in all of us.) It’s very uncomfortable for me to look and find his ways entrenched in my thinking and behavior.
I cannot change myself. The bible says it clearly, we are helpless against sin. It is only through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ that I know that the Holy Spirit will keep changing my heart.
The whole world is regarded as conquered
God said to me a few months ago “the whole world is regarded as conquered“. I’ve been thinking about those words a lot since then. And over the course of the last few months it has become so clear to me that the enemy’s kingdom has indeed conquered this world. His values are on our tv, in our adverts and fashion shows, in our government, our wars and in our politics.
God’s heart and values are foreign to us and simply non-existent in our culture.
The enemy’s ways of control are even in the church and in church leadership. I can’t remember when last I heard a sermon speaking out against something evil in society, or taking a stand publically against evil legislation.
I don’t ever remember hearing a church encouraging people to give to the general KINGDOM of God (feeding programs, orphans, widows) rather than just to the church that they attend. The Kingdom of God is so much more than the gathering of the saints together, the Kingdom of God is also where the saints reach out – monday to friday – and THAT is where some or most of the money is meant to be!
Tonight I can see that the core values of this world are all about our own desires, our pleasures and we don’t want anyone to say “no you cant” to us. Our economy is based around the purchasing power of the individual. If people don’t buy more this year than last year then we are told that we are in a recession. Self.
Just think about this… entire cities like Las Vegas exist just to give us access to gambling, sex, drugs, alcohol and who knows what else. Seriously… an entire city existing only to give us pleasure. Self.
How to experience joy
Have you noticed… the bible speaks a LOT about having joy. The bible says that the disciples walked from one town to another rejoicing and singing! When last did you walk anywhere and as you walked along you rejoiced and sang? From the bible stories it sounds like these guys had joy in them almost all the time – even in jail!
Jesus Christ said He wants us to have His joy, the very same joy that He had.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. – John 15:11
He explained that and told us where His joy came from and then He explained how we can have the same joy as He had… let’s look:
His joy came from “keeping My Father’s commands”.
Wait. What does that mean practically?
Jesus Christ experienced joy when He healed people, when He encouraged them, when He saw lives being saved, when He imparted life to them, when He saw them grow and prosper.
Jesus Christ experienced joy when He had an intimate relationship with God as His own Father.
Jesus Christ experienced joy because He “knew what His Father’s business was” and He had the priviledge of being involved in that business.
For us to have His joy we are to keep His (Jesus Christ’s) command to love
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:9-12
His joy was not a self-centered Las Vegas type of pleasure. A part of His joy came from giving, from improving other people’s lives, from seeing other people prosper and move ahead in a healthy life.
He modeled was something we hardly recognize or notice, something we barely understand. Or maybe you do already understand it, maybe it’s just me catching up to you 🙂
It’s a command, not a “calling”
I don’t see this kind of joy much in the church, it seems to be reserved for THOSE people in THAT ministry. And the reason is clear. We are not teaching what He taught us. We have an aspirational Christianity where people want to better themselves and be middle class or higher, to fit in and to live well and abundantly. Self.
But let us begin to teach what Jesus Christ taught us. Let us teach from scripture.
We all – without exception – should be reaching out, using our God given talents, touching lives, loving people all around them, stopping for the poor and the lonely, giving the shirt off our backs… not walking past the poor but stopping and engaging… and in this way we will have His joy.
It’s not for someone else in a ministry, it’s for all of us Christians to do. It’s not a “calling”, it’s His command.
So… that is where I will leave this post.
And just in case you’re still thinking about that “love your wife as you love your body” here are 13 scriptures to get you (and me) started…
- “Love your wife as Christ loved the Church.” – Ephesians 5:25
- “Love your wife in the same way you love your body and your life.” – Ephesians 5:28-33
- “Be considerate as you live with your wife, with respect …” – I Peter 3:7
- “Do not be harsh with your wife.” – Colossians 3:19
- “The husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” – I Corinthians 7:3-5
- “Rejoice in your wife all your life. Let her breasts satisfy you. Be captivated with her.” – Proverbs 5:18-19
- “And that women may be dressed in simple clothing, with a quiet and serious air; not with vanity about her hair and gold or jewels or expensive clothing;” – 1 Timothy 2:9
- “Do not be captivated by other women.” – Proverbs 5:20
- “Call your wife ‘blessed’ and praise her.” – Proverbs 31:28-29
- “Tell your wife how captivated you are with her body.” – Song of Solomon 4:7; 7:1-8)
- “Honor your marriage; keep it pure by remaining true to your wife in every way.” – Hebrews 13:4
- “Be thankful for your wife and realize the favor you have received from God.” – Proverbs 18:22
- “Be one flesh with your wife in every way.” – Matthew 19:5
You can read descriptions of each of those here: WikiHow How to love your wife according to the bible
Another good source of scriptures is this one: The husbands responsibility to his wife and household