Recently, Lesley & I met some friends in Breckenridge for the day. Prior to meeting up with them, we walked the bustling downtown Breck window shopping. In the middle of the street was a spray painter with this mask or template of “Be Love.” It struck me as a relevant signpost in the midst of the greatest disruption in our generation on a global scale. But what does it actually mean to “be love” or as we call our ministry, “Living Loved.” Read more about the Living Love Project here.
The Gospel is about Love
The crux of the Gospel is wrapped up in the idea and the reality of love. The charge Jesus made to the early disciples was to demonstrate love to one another so the world would see Him and His Kingdom at work among men. It was NOT a call to walk in an exclusive club of kindness, but rather to express the extravagance of the Kingdom of God to everyone. (Think light on a hill…) This is the heart of the way the early church lived and expressed the Kingdom.
Even in “modern” times the church, at her best, has been an expression of the compassion and love of our Father. Pandemics and plagues have come across the earth, bringing her to a standstill, but in every movement of sickness there has been extravagant expressions of love from the believers. The bubonic plague, that ravished Europe from 1347 – 1350, was struck by the Christians who instead of running from the sickness ran to those who were suffering, “having no fear of death, tended the sick with all sweetness and humility.”
Life of Jesus
When we think of the life of Jesus, we think of perhaps His miracles, the Sacrifice, His raising up the 12 disciples, and surely His relationship with His Father that He leads us into to participate with Him. Jesus himself, invites us into His reality; “come and see,” “follow me.” Through Jesus, we are invited into the same relationship He has always had with His Father. Jesus Himself said things like, “I only say what my Father says, the ways He would say it,” “I only do what My Father in Heaven is doing,” “In and of Myself, I can do nothing.” Even, “My theology is not my own.” Jesus lived in the bosom/ reality of His Father…period. And now we are invited to live in that same reality as we are “new creations” in Christ. “Christ in me” is a reality that allows the Kingdom of God to flow in and through us. We are connected to the Father in the same way Jesus is, as we are seated, clothed, new creations in Him. Oh what a time we live in!
The Kingdom of the Son of His love
Jesus also not only taught about love, He demonstrated the extravagant love of the Kingdom of His Father. In Colossians, we are reminded that we were torn out of the power of darkness and transferred into THE Kingdom of the Son of His love, or the “same Kingdom as His beloved Son.” Just prior to this statement, we are reminded that as we walk with our Father, that we will be fruitful in every good work! And that as we walk, doing good works, we would increase in our knowledge of God, as we are strengthen BY HIM (according to His Glorious Power and Understanding), unto walking in patience, perseverance and JOY: as we do the good works! Literally, we could park here and meditate for days…
How did Jesus live?
We get to glimpse into the life of Jesus through the book of Acts 10:38. It begins with God anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. Next, it says He went about doing good works! Now Jesus wasn’t striving in these works, He wasn’t trying to win the approval of His Father or even of the people who were the recipients of those good works, but rather He was demonstrating the power and love of the Kingdom in which He dwells. This is Jesus, fully God and fully man, not pulling on His divinity, but rather relying on His Father to anoint Him with Power in order to demonstrate the goodness of God in the land of the living. This is the essential reality of the Kingdom. We, as sons and daughters, (Jesus was, is and always will be Son) can be confident that our Father, will anoint us with the Holy Spirit and Power in order that we may demonstrate His love through these empowered good works! It is He who invites us to participate in demonstrating His Kingdom. The Gospel is that the Father also will empower us and equip us with the necessary resources to do the same. He, our Father then gets all the Glory and those recipients of the good works, experience the reality of the source of all Love…God Himself.
The same passage then only gets better! It goes on to say, “and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” The good works lead to the power of the Gospel being displayed. We then become the vehicle not only to demonstrate the good works of the Kingdom, but the power that enables people to be transferred from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of love. The desire of God is that ALL be saved, healed and delivered. Through Christ, we are anointed and empowered to “heal” all who are oppressed by the devil.
God with Him.
It gets even better…finally, the passage states, “For God was with Him.” Emmanuel! This is reminiscent of the 1 Corinthians 14:25 passage that reads, “And thus the secrets of his heart is revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” You see as the sons and daughters, the community of believers go out and do good works that lead to power encounters of those who are entangled being set free! Further, this leads to the testimony that “God must be with you, or all this could not be my present reality.” God is with you. He not only deserves, but receives the appropriate reward. The longing of His heart always is connected to reconciliation with His kids.
This was the message preached to the first Gentiles/ non-Jews to receive the Gospel. The prototype of the Kingdom was Jesus (as Son), and we all we follow him in his humanity empowered as he was through the love of His Father.
Colossians 3:14 states, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” First, we must know what love is above? Verse 12 tells us, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on (as we put on Christ and His characteristics in relationship to the Father) tender mercies, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” Again, we are invited into the character/ reality of Christ as we “cloth ourselves in Christ.” According to Paul, love is above all these Characteristics. Paul goes on to say, “pray for us, that God would open to us a door for the mystery of Christ to be demonstrated whether through word or deed.” (Col. 3:17, Col. 4:3)
We are, in Christ, not only motivated, but empowered to live a Kingdom life. The only way we can work out our salvation is that God works in us. He is the Source of our motivation AND our ability to Be Love. This is how sons and daughters can demonstrate and proclaim the Kingdom.
Heaps of Love,
Leonard & Lesley