My Pursuit For 2019

Jeff Love

It is not unusual for many Christians to spend some time in introspection at the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. I do this without trying every year around Christmas and through the month of January. At the beginning of every January, I always seem to hear Holy Spirit’s whispers to me about the condition of my own soul. This is a time where I get still and quiet, doing my best to listen. Fasting and praying are a part of this process each year. Not disappointing, Holy Spirit has been calling me precisely and passionately to address some ongoing stubborn patches in my heart. He has also encouraged me immensely concerning clear spiritual growth in some areas that were not where they needed to be twelve months ago. I love the shepherding ministry of God. He is still a proactive, communicating and kind leader. This year, I am asking for breakthrough in a very specific area which fuels every other area.

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart…” – 1 Peter 1:22

I am pressing in to the Lord for something. It is an overused phrase, but it is exactly what I need and want: a fresh baptism of love. If a Christian is not growing in love, but growing in other things, those things in which we are growing will ultimately prove insufficient. Those other areas of growth will become vehicles without fuel, soil without nutrients, altars without fire. I am impacted by Peter’s words above. Clearly there is a progression that he is revealing in this verse. It looks something like this:

Obedience unto brotherly love {Greek – philadelphian}, leading into God’s love {Greek – agape}, characterized as pouring forth from the Christian’s heart with undeniable intensity.

When I have looked at this verse over the years, I have not really stopped to intentionally lay my own life up against it for a diagnostic test of my soul. When I do so today, I am able to personally conclude that I have obeyed the Truth. That simply means that I recognize that Jesus is Lord of all, and that I have accepted the message of His gospel as the foundation of my life. The result of doing so is that I have a life of obedience (not yet perfect) unto God. Brotherly love is the next component. I love the brethren. I enjoy doing life alongside other believers. Generally speaking, kindness and compassion towards people mark my life. I do not view them as servants to me, but I am a servant to them. While it is true that you and I do not express a perfect brotherly love all of the time, the general bend of the Christian’s life is that he or she is engaged and affectionate toward other believers. The Greek word that Peter uses for our brotherly love does not contain the exact same DNA, however, as the Greek word that he uses when he gives us the lone command in the verse above. What is that command?

Peter commands that we love each other with God’s love – agape love. Not only is it commanded in general, Peter tells us that it must actually flow from the heart with an intensity. He is not telling us to do loving things, use loving tones, wear loving smiles, or employ loving clichés. Peter is commanding Christians to align their hearts with God’s heart so that sincere love, agape love, is the product which flows forth. This gives me pause. This is not a natural love for even the most tender of believers. This is a supernatural love that strives to provide the very best for its object. This love gives. This love protects. This love is considerate. This love imparts. This love dies for the good of its object. This love can only come from abiding in Jesus. I think it would be unwise to assume that we are operating in this kind of love because it is vastly different from human love. Peter is calling believers to cultivate the ongoing love of Jesus in our lives.

If this was not difficult enough for us, Peter also uses the word earnestly. I do not use that word in my normal conversations. The original word describes a relentless, unceasing, persevering love. In fact, this same Greek word is used to describe the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane where He experienced such an intensity in His spirit that the result was blood being pushed up through the pores of His skin. That is the degree of intensity that we are commanded to employ in our love of one another. We are to bleed God’s love from our veins.

God’s love. Unceasing love. Intense love. Enduring love. Love that bleeds.

So, this love is my pursuit. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that not much else matters if I don’t have this kind of love. I can serve, I can sacrifice, I can experience amazing supernatural gifts, I can give all my goods to the poor… but if it is done apart from my love, then I am told that it has no eternal value. That reality results in me understanding that faking the motions of love might get a pass from people, but not from God. I am asking the Father to shift my heart in this area over the next twelve months. Truthfully, I am asking Him to do it today. My guess is that it will not likely be a holy-zap from on high. I have a sneaking suspicion that God will impart it to me through many different means. Some of those methods will be pleasant. Some of them will be painful. Ultimately, to love like Jesus, I will need to die to myself. This is why I am asking for a baptism of love. Buried to my incomplete human love, raised in His unceasing, intense and bleeding love, to walk in a newness of His life.

Join me. My guess sis that it will change everything for us.