The Christian life is meant to be marked by simplicity. Jesus summed up our purpose with two statements: love God and love people. But in our humanity we have made complex what God designed to be peaceful, purposeful, and simple. A. W. Tozer remarks in The Pursuit of God, “Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity.” May we discover the peace and joy that come from pursuing a simple Christianity this week.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
Let There Be Light | Hillsong Worship feat. Matt Crocker
As we step into a deeper abundance of relationship with our heavenly Father, our hearts will naturally burn to love people as he has loved us. Loving people was never a chore for Jesus. He loved those around him with the fiery passion of his Father, and God calls you and me to do the same.
1 John 4:9-12 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” God’s love, perfected in you, will be demonstrated in the way you love others. Allow that fact to rest in your heart for a minute. Allow Scripture to establish in you the core value of selfless love.
I used to think that the highest form of Christian spirituality would be surrendering all forms of pleasure and human contact in order to devote my entire life to relationship with God. But Scripture is clear that God desires to produce in us a passionate pursuit and love for everyone around us. We demonstrate the depth of our love for him through the depth of our love for others. Christianity is not a religion of cliques, comfort zones, or isolation. Rather, it is a personal relationship with a God who loves people and longs to fill us with his love for others.
Our heavenly Father knows that we are incapable of consistently and selflessly loving others in our own strength. He knows that apart from him we are selfish, prideful, fearful, and inconsistent. But our God is fully capable of remarkable transformation if we will open the doors of our hearts to his love and allow him to change us for the better. If we will allow him to satisfy us and heal our wounds, we will receive a flood of genuine love for others that casts out all fear, selfishness, and pride in light of God’s glorious grace.
Jesus said in John 15:12-14, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” What is holding you back from loving others selflessly? Where do you need a fresh filling of God’s love to heal your wounds and satisfy your heart? What fear or source of pride is keeping you from receiving God’s passionate heart for others around you?
Spend time in prayer allowing Scripture to influence and reprioritize what you view as most important. Allow God to flood the dry and wounded places of your heart. And allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with his heart for those around you who desperately need someone to reveal God’s love to them.
1. Meditate on Jesus’ commandment to love others in response to his love. Allow Scripture to lay the foundation for how you will decide to live your life.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:9-12
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:8-10
2. Spend time receiving God’s love. Where do you need his love in order to love others well? What wound is causing you to live fearfully, selfishly, or pridefully? What area of your life needs to be healed or satisfied? Ask God to pinpoint that place.
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with God’s heart for others. Allow him to show you how he feels about people at your work, school, church, or neighborhood. Ask him to reveal specific people he desires you to love well today. Ask him for specific ways he would have you love them.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:9-10
Extended Reading: John 15 or watch The Bible Project’s video on John 13-21.