Practice is the only way to improve at anything. The word “practice” means “learning by repetition“. What you prioritize and practice; with repetitive action, will be mastered in time. If we take an honest, soul searching personal inventory, we are likely to be shocked at what we have invested the most practice in perfecting. And it most certainly will not be God’s love. God calls his children to become the consummate “love” practitioners.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.” Eph. 5:1, NIV, emphasis mine.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Eph. 5: 1-2, The Message.
It really is that simple: “watch what God is doing and keep company with him” and you will learn a life of love. His kind of love does not come natural for us, but with Christ in us we can practice it and mature in it! You will have to embrace a bold, extravagant, un-timid giving of yourself to others in order to develop in Christ’s unique love.
One who practices is an imitator not just an admirer. “What then, is the difference between an admirer and an imitator? An imitator is or strives to be what he admires, and an admirer keeps himself personally detached. The admirer never discovers that what or whom he admires has a claim upon him, to be or at least to strive to be what he admires.” Adapted from, Soren Kierkegaard-Practice in Christianity. We are called to be imitators of Jesus, not just admirers! While there certainly is nothing wrong with admiring Jesus, it will not produce a practiced maturing in loving as he loves!
The call of Christ on you and me each day is to become a disciple of his, a wholly devoted follower. Following his pattern in loving is the key issue in discipleship! “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love–so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through him.
This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us–perfect love! 1 John 4: 7-12, The Message, emphasis mine.
His love, in and through his children is what impacts the world and whets their whistle for the Gospel Message. Like him, we must love the world. Not love of the world, because that is enmity with God, but love for the world. “Unless and until, the future of the world becomes more important than the future of the church, the church has no future.” Only Christ’s love enables and empowers this kind of love! You will be nurtured as you practice the love of God and then you will be able to share that love freely!
In the grip of Papa’s love! Ron Ross