The last few weeks at theSHIFT we’ve been in a series called Back to the Basics. The series is focused on the most basic and important command that Jesus gives (that being Luke 10:27 - Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor). Steven Frausto (BLOG) is leading the series and will write a series reCAP blog, so I don't want to take away from that by going too deep into it, but I wanted to address one specific thing that we talked about this past Sunday.
The topic was “Loving Each Other Through the Holy Spirit.” We got into a lot of great discussion about what that means and what it looks like to worship in spirit and in truth, but one of the most poignant moments of the discussion (for me) revolved around 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 in the context of loving other. It says:
"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."
While studying for this lesson the word that hit me was “compels.” I was pretty sure I knew what it meant, but looked it up anyway. It means “to force to a course of action.” Then I started thinking, “So Christ's love forces us to do stuff.” So I looked up “force,” which means, “power to influence, affect, or control.”
When we accept and have Christ's love it powerfully influences us to a course of action...that being to love and serve others. It doesn't just force you into an action, but actually changes who you are at your very core. It no longer becomes a matter of what you should do, but what you ought to do. It becomes who YOU are, or rather who CHRIST is in you. If Christ lives in you, you have no choice in the matter, you WILL be a new person. Romans 5:17 says,
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
That transformation can only come from Christ in you and only when you choose to submit to Him. So with all that said I can get to the real point...Christ replaces you. He destroys who YOU were and replaces it with who He is.
One of those ways of submitting to Christ is through prayer. There is a TON that can be said about prayer and I'm not gonna even scratch the surface of it. But since we're talking about loving others, prayer is a huge part of that. Prayer is one of the ways that we can lay aside our desires and seek those of God.
I’m going to confess something and it may make people gasp in disbelief, but understand this…I’m a flawed and fallen man (just like everyone else), constantly in need of God’s grace and mercy and through my daily seeking of Christ He makes me the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21) and causes me to look more like Him. So here it is…I don’t always like everyone. There are some people; they have even been in theSHIFT, that I’ve thought, “Man I do not like that person. I wish they would leave.” With that said I know that’s not ok and I seek God to change that in me daily.
BUT…EVERY time I’ve felt like that (and some took longer than others), because I love Christ and I desire to love His people, I didn’t just let those feelings settle. Instead, I would seek God on it, ask Him to reveal the deeper issue, pray that God would lead me through it, sought wise counsel from those in authority over me and those close to me, and then I would go to that person. But I would go to them in love, not to attack them. Here’s what I found…through all that God didn’t change the other person, He changed me. He changed my heart for the person, exposed my short comings as they related to that particular person and changed the way I saw that person. Every time I sought God (with the right motives and truly seeking His heart) I changed, not the other person
Here’s the bottom line: Some of those people are still doing the same junk that annoyed me before, but that’s not for me to be concerned with and really it doesn’t bother me anymore. My concern is that there are things that God still needs to change in my heart. Because I love God and I desire His heart, I submit myself to Him and allow Him to replace me. In submitting to Christ and seeking His character, the Holy Spirit changes you and you start seeing people as God sees them: as the object of His affection and love. If you submit to Christ and accept His love, you will be compelled to love others the same way He loves you…you WON’T have a choice.
Glad I don’t get to choose,