Give What We Have Been Given

Author’s Note:
In this abiding series, each post will be framed as an email correspondence to a friend who is seeking to get ‘more’ out of his or her faith. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you will resonate with the message as deeply as if it were a letter addressed to you.

To: Friend Seeking More from Faith

From: Doug Nuenke

Subject: Give What We Have Been Given

Hello, my friend!

Welcome to 2020! Can you believe we are embarking on a new decade? In this season of goal setting for the New Year, I wanted to circle back to the place our conversation left off before the holidays: love as the outward expression of our abiding relationship with Christ.

You and I spent the better part of last year corresponding about the inward posture and practice of abiding in Christ.  We discussed the theological ‘why’, some habits of ‘how,’ and concluded the year discussing the ‘proofs’ of an abiding life.  The greatest proof? Love.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance and call to love others well. It seems we live in a culture that talks a lot about love, but fails to show much evidence of it. A quick peek around relational fractures, political vitriol, and news headlines demands the same question popularized by a pop song that ushered us into the last decade: Where is the love?

The call to love reveals our great need for Jesus. On our own, we are completely incapable of loving to the standard Jesus modeled. In His last supper with the disciples, Jesus gave a single command as a reflection of the abiding life:

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NIV).

That’s a tall order, isn’t it?  And yet the call to abide is also the invitation to be sourced with extravagant love from God which we may impart to others. We give only what we have been given. Even Jesus’ ability to love was borne out of the love the Father has for him. Jesus was a pipeline of loving kindness from the Father to the world, and we are called to be the same. Because God loved us with a deep and immeasurable love, we are empowered with the same everlasting love.  

Abiding, then, is clinging to the source of love so that we may be filled with a resource we can spend on others. Those who have made their home in Jesus should be marked not by self-preservation, but for laying their lives down for others.

I must confess that I don’t always love in that way. But I’m encouraged by the thought that Jesus left us with guidance on where our ability to love comes from:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9 NIV).

I’ll end with a prayer from Andrew Murray that I often borrow to relay my need and desire to be filled with the love of God:

Gracious God, open our eyes to see this command of Christ in its full glory. Draw us into your love that we may enter in and find an everlasting dwelling place there. How else can we know the love that passes understanding?

Happy New Year!

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