1 John 4:16–19 (NIV)
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
The fruit of the Spirit—which is love—is cultivated in the soil of our inmost being. This is the place from which we live in an awakened relationship with Jesus Christ or we remain asleep. This is why we begin each day with the biblical invitation to, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Just as we must physically wake up from sleep every single day, we must reawaken our inmost being to this most fundamental relationship with Jesus every single day. The point of the Wake-Up Call is to help us love (agape), which is to say deepen our bonded attachment to Jesus, to ourselves, and to others. This is the way our life bears fruit.
This awakening path looks like the movement from awareness to attention to attunement to attachment to affection to abiding to abandonment. The entire way is built on the foundation of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Because we are so prone to take the path of the awakened journey and turn it into multiple to-do lists filled with spiritual activities characterized by endless functional striving, we must recognize that this path describes the transcendent path of God’s agape love for us—you and me. This is first and foremost about what God has and is doing. In the gospel of the kingdom, God is the initiator. We are the responder. Hence the saying—
We love because he first loved us.
For you to become aware of Jesus is to awaken to Jesus’s awareness of you in love.
For you to become attentive to Jesus is to awaken to Jesus’s attentiveness to you in love.
For you to become attuned to Jesus is to awaken to Jesus’s attunement to you in love.
For you to be attached to Jesus is to awaken to Jesus’s attachment to you in love.
For you to experience affection for Jesus is to awaken to Jesus’s affection for you in love.
For you to abide in Jesus is to awaken to Jesus already abiding in you in love.
For you to abandon yourself to Jesus is to awaken to Jesus’s abandonment to you in love.
We love because he first loved us.
We turn this week to this matter of affection. Affection is the blooming flower of attachment. If attachment is the determined will of love, affection is love’s heartfelt expression. In other words, you know affection when you feel it. You know when you give it and you know when you receive it. It is the deep and happy expressive exchange of love.
Over the last few years I have gotten to know Jack Deere. Seedbed has had the privilege of partnering with HarperCollins Christian: Zondervan on a re-release of his two most impactful books.1 On every occasion we have talked, the conversation will turn to the affection of God and how in recent years Jack has experienced this like never before in his life. He speaks of coming into the deep enjoyment of God’s affection for him. It has challenged me. My response was first to compare my own experience and to go in search of what I perceived him to be talking about. I’ll be honest. I never felt anything from that effort. Then I woke up and turned to God’s Word. As I have anchored into Psalm 139 over these past six months or so, the affection of God has seemed to leap off the page. As Jesus has sown these words into the soil of my inmost being, the affection of God has flowered in my soul. Just like fruit cannot be produced but must be born, the preceding flower cannot be forced but must bloom on its own terms.
Many of you have discovered the group known as Maverick City Music. Their breakout song Jireh has swept across the land, even landing them a performance on the stage of the Grammy Awards this year. It breathes the affection of our Father God for his sons and daughters. I have never heard a song with a more compelling opening line.
I’ll never be more loved than I am right now.
Later comes this chorus
I’m already loved. I’m already chosen.
I know who I am. I know what you’ve spoken.
I’m already loved; more than I can imagine.
And that is enough.
If you’ve got a few extra minutes, listen here. And you’re welcome! ;0)
Wake up, sleeper! God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. To go deeper into the life of God means to go deeper into the life of love—
Father Farmer God, your love is extravagant. I confess to know this far more as a precept or a concept; even a truth. But sometimes the experience of your love . . . okay of your affection, seems elusive. I can experience some emotion in my relationship with you, but something tells me your affection runs much deeper. I want to know your affection, Lord Jesus. And I want you to know my affection for you. Holy Spirit would you open me up and lead the way forward. I will respond to your initiative. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
How would you describe your felt experience of the affection of God for you? How do you express your affection for God? Are you open to growing in this dimension of your faith and experience?
Today, on the Wake-Up Call recording we will be singing the familiar hymn, “Love Lifted Me”; #89 in our newly released Seedbed Hymnal: Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
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NOTES FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
- Jack Deere was a professor of Bible at the esteemed Dallas Theological Seminary back in the 1980s, a school that subscribes to a cessationist position on the present day operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In those days he experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit in an undeniable way and was released from the seminary’s employ. He wrote the first book referenced above out of that season. As noted, Seedbed rereleased a highly revised edition entitled, Why I Still Believe in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Soon thereafter he wrote the second book referenced: Why I am Still Surprised by the Voice of God. He went on to serve alongside John Wimber for many years in the dynamic rise and growth of the Vineyard Fellowship church planting movement.
I’ve personally most experienced God’s love for me at times when I am submissive for him to utilize me as a conduit for His grace to another individual. God’s mercy and grace, His love, is like the current of a spring fed river, it refreshes and cleanses us.
Awesome! So true, Bob!
Another great song about affection is Elevation Worship’s The One You Love:. https://open.spotify.com/track/7ssoLXeu8jLn1hLbPgG3TK?si=ubr-iRzATrqg30bHacjrvw&utm_source=copy-link
Love lifted me as I woke up to this morning’s beautiful Wake-Up Call and felt God’s affection for me! Reading it filled my heart with love as if I was in an agape gathering.
Ekklesia is God’s agape gathering where the Holy Spirit trains Christ-followers to deeply love God and one another. I love to be in an ekklesia gathering and feel God’s agape love flowing out of my inermost being and pouring out on God and on all those gathered in Jesus’ presence.
I’m two weeks behind but so glad I didn’t skip over this one. Smiling sitting in God’s affection for me this morning – which isn’t really a natural position for me. Thank you.
I have never experienced His Awareness, His attentiveness, His affection or any of these other things you have mentioned. Just hearing about them and striving to believe in them does nothing. How can I actually experience these things? Believing something is true and actually experiencing it fo yourself are far from the same thing. Please help!