There are several entries on this site from a while back from a love study on 1 Corinthians 13. They are good, foundational look at God’s standard of love. When you can, check them out (under Devotionals, then Love Reflections). Today this verse rings —
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35 NASB
Discipleship brings us to God’s standard of love.
What is discipleship? It’s our commitment to follow a teacher and subscribe wholly to His teachings. We spend time with our teacher. We learn to eventually live with the teachings in a way that makes us more like Christ. The end result is our CONFORMATION, or our re-shaping in our teacher’s image.
And all men know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love…for each other.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; ~ Philippians 3:10 KJV
We say yes to the Father when by His Spirit He draws us into saving faith. Then discipleship begins. Our lives have one “shape” or form when we are born again. In the process of discipleship, our lives are now put into the “mold” of Christ’s life…and experiences and personal truths yield and give way to His absolute truth and life for us. We die to ourselves as our lives take on this new shape in Christ.
Today the Godly love standard in 1 Corinthians 13 gets preached in terms of personal character. My issue with this is it causes us to think we can change ourselves to love like God when Beloved, WE NEED HIM TO HELP US BECOME LIKE HIM. In Christ our isolated efforts are futile. We do nothing of our own power. Not one thing.
It is concerning that 21st century trendy preaching offers love as tolerance and not battle. Love does not accept all — it covers (bears) all, it believes all, it hopes all, and it endures all. This is a battle. Love suffers long and is kind; this is battle. Discipleship challenges envy and our provoke-ability, and outbursts. This is battle. Love gets in the face of our pride, our self-seeking ambition and our negative and evil thoughts. This is battle. It drives out our itching ear for gossip and slander and bringing others down. Discipleship produces love for absolute truth; that is, what the Father really says in His Word.
This love is AGAPE — it does not change, and can comfort us through our changes.
His love for us is not obligation or duty. God does us no favors. He wants relationship. So it is when discipleship works His love in us — we want relationship with each other. We want steady, consistent, life-giving, godly relationship among believers. It’s possible because John 13:35 says that’s how all men will know men can follow Jesus (that His commands are not grievous).
In this day of flimsy discipleship, I encourage us to keep moving toward consistency in Christ. Let’s remain His disciples, and allow His teaching to produce His love in our lives. After the yes to saving faith and discipleship begins, then we keep saying yes to the Lord’s way. We win one battle after another when we let our way or form surrender to His and conform to His death (Philippians 3:10).
Just a thought for our consideration. We have much more progress to make in Christ. We have many more to show the authenticity of following Jesus.
Lord, make us disciples again. Not trendy. Not attracted to alliteration. Not focused on spiritual gifts, the bearers of which only move us backwards if they do not have love. Lord, make us disciples again. Cause sounding brass and tinkling symbols to offend our ears again. Cause us to draw toward absolute truth in Your word. And let Your dynamic, life-giving love loose in us to show others they can follow You too. Amen.