Search
Search

In Christ Faith Is Expressed Through Love

 

PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Galatians 5:6

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

CONSIDER THIS

The other morning I drove by a church in our area that posts a weekly inspirational (or humorous) quote on the sign on their lawn. The letters are plastic and sometimes crooked, but it’s clear that someone has carefully curated each word to provide some benefit to those who pass by. This particular day I drove by quickly, almost missing the message. There on the sign were these words: “Love as Jesus loves.”

We’ve already talked much about love in our series so far. Paul won’t talk about our unity with God in Christ without bringing it up. Paul won’t even talk about being a follower of Jesus without putting our embodiment of Christ’s love front and center. 

And, in everyday life, love is a word that holds more space in the average person’s life than most.

We all want to love and be loved, give love and receive love. But love, as a word, can mean many, many things. The ancient Greeks had multiple words for love, enabling them to distinguish between meanings in various contexts. The English language, however, has one word for love and a few other variations at best. That limitation has had tremendous implications for us today. 

What we mean by love when we speak of it is everything. In our love-language-saturated world, especially on social media and in our identity-disoriented culture, God’s vision of love penetrates and defines the meaning of this powerful little word. 

And that is what Paul wants to talk about in Galatians 5:26. Some of the believers have retreated into a law-powered vision of closeness with God. Paul wants to remind them of a love-powered vision of closeness with God—and the mission of love that flows from it.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

The word for love here is agape. Agape is a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit kind of love that could be understood to enfold and define all other visions of love. It is not simply an emotional love, marked by acceptance, kindness, or affection. Rather, it is an unconditional assignment of value to another, a love that puts others first, that deeply loves and appreciates the depth and breadth of a person. It is cruciform, cross-shaped love; the kind of love that calls another to a higher good at the same time it enfolds them. Agape love can accept, challenge, serve, and heal—all in the same moment.

But what does that love look like in practice? Paul is trying to say that it looks like Jesus. And Jesus, whose Spirit is in us, loves in the way of 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5:22–23. His love overflows into joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That’s the Spirit’s life at work within us.

Joe Dongell, in his incredible book Sola Sancta Caritas, articulates John Wesley’s understanding of how love works:

Wesley is saying something more than that love is important, a claim with which all Christians could agree without dispute. Rather, Wesley has a specific understanding of how love works across the whole Christian life, and how love is the operational center of all things. . . . First, the love advocated by Jesus and his apostles cannot be defined by general human intuition, or by cultural sensibilities, or by finding some supposed ethical overlap between all the world’s religions. . . . Second, we must stop equating Christian love with good actions, even if those good actions are done in the name of Jesus. . . . Third, love’s origin is God himself, or as it is expressed in 1 John 4:7, “Love is of God.” . . . Fourth, if love is a gift from God, then we must seek to receive love from God, the very love we are commanded then to express both to God and others. . . . Fifth, the love poured out by God through the Spirit is a mighty force set loose on the deepest chambers of the heart and community, manifesting a host of powerful internal and external effects.1

Because this book is so helpful to our understanding of love, here is one more quote:

If love fills the heart (and by its nature fulfills the whole law of God), then the heart so filled with love has “no room left in it” (metaphorically speaking) for evil intentions and designs. . . . Then among the external effects of infusion with God’s love will be mission and service of every sort. For to be filled with love from God is to be energized by the same passion that has been energizing God’s whole redemptive mission.2

The only thing that ultimately matters, according to Paul, is faith expressing itself in the world by acts of love in accord with a Jesus-kind of love. His love is the way forward for us all.

Today, you can express your faith through acts of love because Jesus is in you—loving others through you.

THE PRAYER 

Lord Jesus, I am in you and you are in me. I want my faith and the way I carry it in my relationships to be expressed as love. Show me how to love and accept, but also how to care for and challenge another. I want love and truth to move together in my life. In Christ Jesus, I pray, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

How have different visions of love impacted your relationships? Is there any way you could model a love that is a Jesus-kind of love?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt 

NOTES

  1. Joseph Dongell, Sola Sancta Caritas (Franklin: Seedbed Publishing, 2006), 25–33.
  2. Ibid., 34–35.

Subscribe to get this in your inbox daily and please share this link with friends.

Share today's Wake-Up Call!

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. When Christ came to pay
    The price for my sin,
    That was agape.

    When Jesus calls me
    To follow and obey
    Him throughout the day,
    That is agape.

    Every time I pray
    And God fills me
    With His joy,
    That’s agape.

    When Jesus molds me
    Like a potter
    Working with his clay,
    That is agape.

    Every time I see
    An inner ray
    Of God’s bright light,
    That’s agape.

    Every time Christ calls me
    To come back to Him
    When I stray away,
    That is agape.

    I long to be able
    To constantly convey
    To hurting people
    The love called agape!

    If your skies are gray
    And you feel dismay
    Open your heart
    To God’s agape.

  2. God’s eternal purpose for us humans, was, is and will forever be: to create us in His Image, and to reflect His love, and his divine care over all creation ( Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15) After Jesus’s earthly mission had been accomplished, and upon his eminent return to his throne above, he again communicated essentially the same message to his disciples/Apostles: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (people groups), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20) In other words, you all, are my image bearers, now go out and be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth with my reflected image. So be it.

  3. “O my son, give me your heart (love). May your eyes take delight in following my ways (faith).”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23‬:‭26‬

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *