Friday, February 5, 2010

Perfected in Love

I am of the belief that God would not call us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbour as our self if it were not possible.  We are commanded to be Holy as He is Holy not as a simple appeal but a command, an attainable reality, God helping us.  “For as long as love takes up the whole heart, what room is there for sin therein?”

I long to see the same religion established in the world that Reverend John Wesley sought and God calls us to “a religion of love, joy and peace, having its seat in the inmost soul, but ever showing itself by its fruits, continually springing forth not only in all innocence – for love worketh no ill to his neighbour – but likewise in every kind of beneficence, spreading virtue and happiness all around it.

With denominations debating doctrines of little eternal importance, Wesley points out that "there is a better religion to be attained, a religion worthy of God that gave it.  And this we conceive to be no other than love: the love of God and of all mankind; the loving God with all our heart and soul and strength, as having first loved us, as the fountain of all the good we have received and of all we ever hope to enjoy; and the loving every soul which God hath made, every man on earth, as our own soul.  This love we believe to be the medicine of life, the never-failing remedy for all the evils of a disordered world, for all the miseries and vices of men.  Wherever this is, there are virtue and happiness going hand in hand.  There is humbleness of mind, gentleness, long-suffering, the whole image of God, and, at the same time, a peace that passeth all understanding and joy unspeakable and full of glory”

Being perfected in love is what I strive for, God helping me, it is the focus of my faith, centered on Christ! Wesley has defined this, the pursuit of Christian Perfection as “Nothing higher and nothing lower than this: the pure love of God and man – the loving God with all our heart and soul and our neighbour as ourselves.
  It is love governing the heart and life, running through all our tempers, words and actions” LOVE – “the highest gift of God – humble, gentle, patient love.”

My faith is summised by the the verses in Matthew 22: 36-39, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
All too often we complicate the gospel, our legalism and manufactured doctrines getting in the way of what God wants to do, sometimes pushing people further away from God’s truth than drawing them nearer.   “The more care should we take to keep the simple, scriptural account continually in our eye: pure love reigning alone in our heart and life.  This is the whole of scriptural perfection.”  If only we were more conscious of doing just this, of allowing pure love to reign alone in our heart and life, to guide our decisions and motives.

Being perfected in love
does not mean that we are not liable to mistake in practice as well as in judgement, but that, this is not sin if love is the principle of the action. Wesley attests that this does not exclude us from the need for a mediator/saviour but quite the contrary that as a result we are totally dependant upon Christ. “As the branch cannot bear fruit itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me…Without,” or separate from, “me ye can do nothing”

If we have not first experienced the perfect and unconditional love of Christ we can never expect to be able to love God and others perfectly or perhaps even well.

Shane Claiborne wrote in Irresistable revolution that "we need converts in the best sense of the word, people who are marked by the renewing of their minds and imagination, who no longer conform to the pattern that is destroying our world.  Otherwise, we have believers, and believers are a dime a dozen now a days."  I submit that we need people marked most by the renewing of their hearts.  As we strive to fulfill the greastest commandment to love God and others we will become more than just believers but a people who believe so much in another way and another world that we cannot help but begin enacting it now.

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