30 06 2020

Jesus, light of the world

In 1964, the British Invasion was sweeping the musical world of America. The Beatles began to own the Billboard charts. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were songwriting gold. Philadelphia’s golden boy Bobby Rydell needed a hit song. He was promised a tune Lennon and McCartney wrote but chose not to record. It was a surefire hit tune and a golden ticket for Rydell to get back on the charts. Something happened along the way that wrecked the comeback for Bobby. Peter Asher was beginning to record with Gordon Waller. Peter Asher’s sister Jane also began dating Paul McCartney so guess who got the upper hand with the very same record? What became a huge hit for Peter and Gordon ended up a complete miss for Bobby Rydell. The lyrics went something like this: “Please lock me away and don’t allow the day; here inside, where I hide with my loneliness. I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay in a world without love.”

 Have you ever wondered what a life without love would be like? Are you curious as to what the world would be like without the power of love? The Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, was divinely inspired when he wrote: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He and his brother James were nicknamed the Sons of Thunder, by Jesus. Apparently, the Lord saw their inner rage and appropriately called them out. John was originally known for raising hell, but a relationship with Jesus changed all of that. This Son of Thunder became the Disciple of Love. How could such a transformation take place for John? It is only because John refused to live in a world without love. John opened his heart and had a personal relationship with God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus became John’s first love, and that love began to permeate his whole life. Whoever is your first love will become the one who has the strongest hold upon your heart.

 Knowing the love of God must go way beyond just an intellectual pursuit. If it is not experienced fully within the human heart, then it will not be understood at all. Too many church going people keep God solely as a subject in their textbook when He longs to be the engine of their soul. Let me illustrate it by giving you the scientific definition of a kiss. Technically it is the anatomical juxtaposition of two orbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction. Who wants to smooch after reading that? But when you actually plant one smack dab upon the lips of someone who raises your blood pressure, you feel what a firework senses when it’s bomb bursts in mid-air! People can talk all day about the truths of the Bible but it won’t mean a thing without personally plugging in to what you claim to believe!

 Will we Christians venture beyond what we can comprehend in our minds and fully enter into the fullness of a relationship with our God! My granddaughter constantly sings a song from the Frozen 2 soundtrack that cries, “Into the Unknown! Into the Unknown!” A man bought a very large fish tank and installed a piece of glass in the middle, dividing one side from the other. He placed a group of fish on one side of the glass but no fish on the other side. At first, the fish kept bumping into the glass because they didn’t see it or expect a barrier to be there. After a few painful days of head butting, and lots of fish headaches, the fish became conditioned to stop swimming near the invisible barrier. Then the owner removed the glass divider. But still no fish swam past the middle of the tank. When you’ve been swimming into glass your whole life, and all your friends and family tell you about the glass they’ve hit their heads on, you’ll probably give up trying to swim past it.  Similarly, when church has been nothing more than another place where you live with constant reminders that you aren’t enough for God’s power to work wonderfully in and through you, we willingly settle to stay on the safe side and won’t and don’t even try to enter into God’s abundantly more experience! But to know Jesus is to love Jesus and to love Jesus is to be like Jesus and to be like Jesus is to love others! It is time to stop behaving like we are loveless and start believing that Jesus in a life opens up adventures and opportunities way beyond our wildest imagination!

 It is time to stop underestimating the transforming power of the love of Jesus. It’s easy for us Christians to forget how massively loved we are with such a wide and accepting, long and lasting, high and exalting, deep and sacrificial love. God’s love extends super-abundantly in every direction, like an infinite universe whose end can never be reached. God’s love is wide enough to accept whosoever will may come. God’s love is long enough to last into eternity. God’s love is high enough to prove that there is such a thing as purity and authenticity. God’s love is deep enough to show the heart and soul of what sacrificial effort will do for the person who matters! Have you ever stopped to realize and count the cost of how far God has gone in making His affections known to His creation?

 Not only should we never buy into the lie that we are not loved by Heaven, but also, we should never think that we have the love of God all figured out. Let’s say I challenged you today to head on down to the beach and fill a jar with water from the Atlantic Ocean. Your jar would be filled to the brim with the Atlantic Ocean, but not all of the Atlantic Ocean could ever fit within the confines of a simple jar.  In the same way, God longs to fill the jars of human hearts with His love and power and presence. All of us can be filled with all of God and yet still have so much more of God still to know! There is so much of God’s love to know and experience and share and even then, we are still only scratching the surface. Fall on your knees! Be willing to swim into the deep end of His grace and mercy. Apart from Jesus we can’t do squat, but with Him there is no stopping the flow of how far God will go to prove that He has not abandoned this crazy world. If God hasn’t given up on us, why would we ever choose to give up on Him?



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