Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to lose sight of the big picture of God’s kingdom in the milieu of our daily lives. I really believe the big picture, the divine story that we’re immersed in, is about God’s love.
God is love and he’s on a mission to recreate the world in his divine love and goodness. The divine project of the renewed heaven and renewed earth of Revelation 21 is currently underway. It’s the mission that Jesus embodied and modeled and then commissioned his followers to continue. Jesus’ vocation was to inaugurate what Dallas Willard describes in Renovation of the Heart as:
“A perpetual world revolution… a revolution of character, which proceeds by changing people from the inside through ongoing personal relationship to God in Christ and one another. It is one that changes their ideas, beliefs, feelings, and habits of choice, as well as their bodily tendencies and social relations. It penetrates to the deepest layers of their soul.”
Jesus accomplished this revolution by living richly in God’s kingdom so that everything he touched and encountered was naturally transformed by the divine love that is the essence of his inner life.
As Jesus’ body, the “fullness of him who fills everything” (Eph 1:21), our vocation is the same as his. So when I look at my life, I have to ask myself, “Okay, so when am I actually going to get around to actually doing just that?” I don’t mean just little snatches here and there of love, but a life that fully and easily embodies God’s transforming love within the world I live.
Dallas defines love as the “genuine inner readiness and longing to secure the good of others.” I love that definition! Can you imagine daily life lived from that perspective? No wonder Paul says that love is patient and kind, doesn’t envy or boast, isn’t proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, and doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. If I lived from that kind of inner life, I would rarely get frustrated, angry, impatient, proud, arrogant, or mean. I would be dead to my self-will and living for the betterment of others for the glory of God.
The problem occurs when I try to act patient or kind without any substantial inner life of love. I lose sight of the big picture whenever I put my attention on loving behavior rather than actually progressing inwardly in love itself. At that point, Dallas’ words come back to haunt me, “Merely trying to act lovingly will lead to despair and to the defeat of love. It will make us angry and hopeless.” Gulp!
It’s only by taking God’s divine love into my inner being through cooperative spiritual formation in God’s grace that I actually have any chance. Right now, that’s my small part in this grand divine story. It’s my responsibility to grow in a rule of life that takes God’s love deep within me so that it becomes the very source and refreshment of my life.
Father, help me to walk in the Spirit of Christ, who ultimately bears the fruit of your love in my life. Help me to experience and move in the power of the Spirit, knowing that every gift he brings is meant to build his body up in love. Amen.