Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” That’s bumper sticker material right there. It’s the kind of thing you want to hang on your bathroom mirror so you see it every day. And it has great implications for your spiritual life. So many of us are content to “play small”, to sneak by without making waves, desperate to ensure that no one notices we are even there. God placed His very Spirit within you. You are filled with the presence and the power of God. If that is true – and I believe that it is – there is no way we can help but make waves; it is a certainty that not only will we be noticed but that we will be pointed out.
As you go throughout your days, are you pursuing a life of holiness? Are you consciously striving to be the person God created you to be, a person who is consumed by the love of Jesus? This isn’t a new concept, but it has been brought to my mind in fresh ways through recent teachings by Bill Hybels and David Platt. Not only has God placed a unique combination of passions and skills in each of us in order that we might do the work He created us to do, but He has also charged us to conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him (Philippians 1:27).
I’ve lived in America for all of my adult life, and I certainly appreciate the freedoms that privilege has afforded me. Like many in this country, I am deeply concerned about the direction we are heading, and I miss the heady times of the past. Yet a disturbing trend I’ve noticed among believers is to elevate this concern to their chief topic of conversation. They put far more energy into political causes than they do into the mission of the Kingdom. I understand the emotion; I spent ten or fifteen years heavily wrapped up in politics as well. This is a dangerous game for Christians, and I believe it is a sinister weapon of the enemy.
It’s easy to become discouraged in our walk with Christ. The mission ahead is daunting and the pressures against us mount every day. There are so many in the world who hunger and thirst, how can we ever reach them all? Every day wars are creating more orphans and widows, and we haven’t yet begun to be able to help the ones we had the day before. We long to live a life that looks like Jesus, but the odds against us seem increasingly overwhelming. So many die without ever knowing the peace and love that can come only from Jesus; our hearts ache and we become paralyzed at the work before us.
Do you understand how much Jesus actually loves you? Almost every follower of Christ would acknowledge that He loves them, but do you fully comprehend the depth of that love? In John 15:9, Jesus says that He loves us just as the Father loves Him. That’s an incredible statement. Consider how much God loves His Son. Can you even fathom the enormity of that love? And yet Jesus says that He loves each of us with that same love, a love that truly goes beyond our ability to understand.
We serve others in order to reflect the love of Christ. We volunteer and sacrifice to love others as Christ loves us. But do we really get what that means? Jesus loves us with the same intensity that He is loved by the Father. Therefore, if we are to truly live a life that looks like His, we must lavish this same love on everyone we meet. No one is too insignificant, and we must never be too busy to stop and seize the divine moment in front of us. God would never pass up an opportunity to show love to His Son, just as Jesus would never overlook the chance to demonstrate His love to us. So too we must always be eager to share the love of Christ with everyone we encounter. This love is all consuming and it must permeate every cell of our bodies.
We’ve probably all gone through periods in our lives when we felt that no one cared and that no one would notice if we simply disappeared. The frenetic pace that our days are subjected to leaves us weary and frazzled by the time we lie down at night. More and more communication is happening via email and Facebook, and personal interaction is quickly becoming an afterthought. All of this leads to a feeling of emptiness, and it becomes easy to feel lost and alone. In times like these we need to quiet our hearts and remember John 15:9. Jesus loves us just as the Father loves Him. There is no greater love. We are not alone and we have a purpose to fulfill.
Jesus told us to look after the orphans and widows (James 1:27), to feed the hungry and care for the sick. He told us to visit those in prison and to take in those with no place to go (Matthew 25:31-46). How can we do those things unless we love people with a passion so consuming that it compels us to do more and more for others? Caring for the needs of another is exhausting if done out of necessity or duty; but it is exhilarating, satisfying and refreshing when done out of love. It’s all about the attitude with which we approach the situation. Are we choosing to love them as Christ loves us, or are we trying to earn our way to Heaven by doing good deeds? God does not only want us to do the things He commands, but to do it with the right attitude in our hearts (Ephesians 6:6-7; Colossians 3:23). When we serve others because the love of Christ in us allows us to do nothing else, then we are moving in harmony with His mission and purpose for our lives.
Take a few minutes today to contemplate the love Christ has for you. Drink in the overflowing richness of that love and allow yourself to bask in the glory of it. Take a mental snapshot of the feeling; this is how you want to love those around you. When you serve them, do it because you are beginning to understand the depth of the love that Jesus has for you. Share that love with another and allow them to feel the warmth of God’s Spirit as it emanates from within you. Never take the love of Christ for granted, but at the same time do not underestimate the enormity of it. Dive in deep; swim in the ocean of His love for you. Walk in light and serve others in the name of the One who loves you beyond your wildest dreams.