The Scriptures are very clear on one thing. There are so many things that can be debated and argued about in the Bible, but one thing can’t be, and as far as I know, no one really does. That one things is what Jesus said in the Gospel records, Paul’s epistles, John’s and Peter’s letters, and more: “Love thy neighbor,” or John’s favorite phrase, “love one another.”
Loving people, whether they be Christians or not, is a most definite charge of ours as beloved children of the Most High God.
But it’s impossible, it seems. I mean, people are hard to love or even want to be around at times. Especially if you have a similar personality as me. I’m pretty introverted a lot of the time, though some tend to disagree. But just ask my best friend, he’ll tell you I’m quite the introvert. I tend to seclude from people and have as much alone time as possible. I draw away from people by nature. That’s just how I am though. It’s not all bad, but because I live in community-life and share my life with other believers in my church, that’s not always an ideal behavior.
At the risk of sounding repetitive (that is, repeating a similar message as many of my other posts), I’m going to tell something I recently experienced concerning this particular topic of loving thy neighbor. Maybe it’ll be a benefit and encouragement to you.
So, as some of you may know, Threshold 2011, the Organic Church Conference was held in Orlando, Fl this year where I was in attendance (this was my 2nd year at Threshold). At these conferences many people have many questions about Organic Church. Especially if you happen to be involved in one for any amount of time. Some have questions as to what it looks like, what problems we’ve had, how we see the Lord in it, how meetings are done, etc., etc. The list in endless.
This is a great time to share our Lord with hungry brothers and sisters. But for someone like me, an introvert at heart, this can be exhausting and tiring. Usually social environments can only last a couple of hours at best with me. I tend to get overwhelmed or irritable when I’m in a large group of people for any amount of time which causes me retreat to a secluded place for a while (usually my room, or in this case it would’ve been my hotel room).
But this year was different for one reason: I lived by Christ’s life.
The night before this 3 day conference with about 350 people in attendance, I was really wanting to be able to share the Lord with the hungry individuals that were going to be there (I knew from last year what this conference was going to involve). I also wanted to be able to love His saints above myself. I was wanting to grab hold of a larger understanding and passion for His people. I wanted it to be more real to me, more than just an ideal or an intellectual agreement. So I prayed.
I asked the Lord that during the conference that I could have HIS passion for HIS saints. That I wouldn’t try to muster up my own love and passion. That I wouldn’t be having to force myself to deny my flesh (usually an empty stomach and tired eyes), that I could live by HIS self-denial. That Michael would leave the picture all together and that Michael’s words would not be heard, only His.
He answered that prayer ten-fold. I was able to deny my empty stomach, my tired eyes, my social anxiety, my need for seclusion, and my need for rest. But I didn’t have to force or muster anything up. He did it all. I had a drive, a passion, a desire, and a love for His people like never before. And the funny thing was, it wasn’t my love at all! It was a love I had never experienced before. That’s because, it wasn’t my own.
Like I’ve stated in at least a dozen posts before, we don’t have to live the Christian life on our own. We all seem to know that God didn’t save us by our own works and abilities, but we seldom seem to know that He doesn’t call us to live by our own works, abilities, and righteousness. It seems we only have half the picture.
Live by the Life of Christ that is already in you, dear brother or sister.