Entrusted to Love
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.' " (Romans 12:9-21, NIV)
Entrusted: put into the care or protection of someone
Immediately the Holy Spirit said to me "It's not cities, nations or the world that is called to love. It is the body of Christ that is called to love. We are called to love God and our neighbors as ourselves." (Mark 12:28-34)
The Spirit said "If you don't see love, it's because God's people are not loving as we are called to do."
Jesus said that His disciples would be the ones in whom His love should be manifested for men to see. (John 13:34-35)
Love is the greatest commandment, the fullment of God's law. If we are not obeying the law of love, we are practicing lawlessness. (Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 3:3-5 )
Jesus said "If you love me, you will obey my commandments." (John 14:15, NIV)
This kind of love is disciplined and moral. Love emanates from God who is love and who "poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us." (Romans 5:1-5, NIV)
Our bodies are tabernacles of love. But, we must sacrifice our body so that the love pours out of it for others, just like Jesus sacrified his body for us and his blood poured out of him for our redemption. (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 1:7-8)
There are no limits or boundaries to love just like God, who is love, is transcendent--limitless and without boundaries. (1Corinthians 13:1-13)
We are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48)
The Holy Spirit said that Christ's body is not submitting to "every authorities instituted among men for the Lord's sake whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2: 13-25)
When we do not submit, we do not love. I see this on my job, at home, at church (meaning the buildings where we worship, because the body of Christ is the church), in myself, and in other believers.
We do not submit to our bosses at work, but instead, subvert their authority in all kinds of ways.
We are judging the cities, nations and the world instead of loving them. And yet, we do not judge ourselves--the body, each other--which is our calling. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Recently the news reported on a man named Paul Jennings, a slave of President James Madison and his wife Dolley Madison. The report said that President Madison's instruction upon his death was to free all his slaves. However, when he died, Dolley Madison sold Mr. Jennings to another slave owner, because she needed the money. Years later Mr. Jennings was set free. As a free man, Mr. Jennings, who was employed by the government, used small sums from his own income to help support his former slave owner Dolley Madison when she fell on hard times. (The New York Times)
This is love demonstrated. I can't speak for other countries, but in the United States, we're ready to kill someone for simply cutting us off in traffic. Yet Paul Jennings who was enslaved by man, separated from his wife and children, demonstrated love towards his former slave owner who did not demonstrate love towards him. He loved his enemy.
Titus 2:9-10 (NIV) says "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive."
Jesus said "Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contractedby pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14, Amplified)
I'm beginning to rethink this scripture in Matthew. I beginning to think that the narrow gate and road to life is loving as Christ loved us. And, that loving in this way is what few will do.
"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him." (1 John 4:15-17, NIV)
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers ... Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us." (1 John 3:11-24, NIV)
Recently I learned that when Jesus told the church at Ephesus "You have forsaken your first love," he was referring to their love and ferver for preaching the gospel. They had stopped preaching the gospel as they had done early on. If this is the meaning, then we, now, have forsaken the love of preaching the gospel. I think that we have relegated this work to pastors, preachers, those with titles, missionaries. But, we are all called to be ministers of reconcilation wherever we are, whoever we are. Every member of the body of Christ is a minister of the gospel. We have been entrusted to preach the gospel. (2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5; Revelation 2:1-7)
To close, I don't understand everything about the last days or end times, but Jesus did say to God's people:
"In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. for many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it—that's what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved." (Matthew 24:11-14, The Message)
Perhaps this what we are experiencing now in the body of Christ, "love that is but a mound of ashes."
But the Word also tell us this:
"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." (Ephesians 5:1-2, The Message)
-Kim Black is a featured writer for the "E-Discipleship" column at GraceandMercyMagazine.org,
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Message. ©1993, 1994, 1995,
1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing
Group. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright
©1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)