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The Mark of Christ

04 Jun

Mark of Christ - 1It is almost a sure thing. If I begin speaking about the love of God, someone else will begin to bring up his judgment against sin.[1] Invariably, something must be said about his love being balanced out by his judgment. I guess it keeps some folks secure in their faith, if they understand some people are going to get their reasonable punishment. The problem with that is that it is really unreasonable to say that I should escape my just reward—death. Love simply is not reasonable. Folks love, really love, others illogically so. The cross wasn’t a logical conclusion that was predictable. When Jesus spoke of the cross, Peter took him aside and told him things don’t work that way (Matthew 16:21-22). Folks simply thought the cross was a very illogical matter (John 12:34).

The text says that God is Love (1John 4:16). It never even once even implies that God is judgment. The two ideas are opposed to each other, and the cross proves God is not perfectly balanced in all things. The idea that he is so is an idol, thought up by someone who really doesn’t know God very well. The fact is: God loves us—all of us, and we need to try to wrap our minds around that idea. Jesus tells us that we need to love one another just as he has loved us, and if we do this one thing, we shall be identified with Jesus by all people (John 13:34-35). Imagine that! If I love my brother as Christ loves me, folks who know me will understand I am a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what I believe, because love speaks louder than my theology.

What am I saying, that it doesn’t matter what I believe? Am I speaking about cheap grace? First, let me say that anything the cross brought about isn’t cheap. That argument is a cheap ploy to turn the subject to judgment rather than love. Secondly, what I believe will be helpful in my freedom in Christ, i.e. truth may free me from things like legalism, idols and sinful habits, but nothing is said to identify me with Christ except love. Loving others as Christ loves them tells folks I am one of Christ’s own. Nothing else does that—nothing! If anyone thinks otherwise, let him simply quote the verse that doesn’t speak of love that identifies him as Christ’s own.

The word of God says that Jesus loved his disciples to the end (John 13:1). Jesus told them that in the same way the Father loved him, Jesus loved them (John 15:9); and there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for the benefit of his friend (John 15:13). Many people have taught that Jesus referred to the cross in John 15:13, and there is an application for that, but Jesus referred to something much more than death. Rather, it is living to serve one another, as the need occurs. For example, the very same word that Jesus used to say there is no greater love than what a man does when he lays down his life is also used of Peter kneeling in prayer in Acts 9:40. In giving himself to prayer, Peter was able to raise Dorcas to life. In 2Timothy 1:11 it is used of Paul saying he was appointed a preacher, apostle and teacher of the gentiles. By his faithfully serving his office, Paul was laying down his life for those he loved.

Finally, as it pertains to us, Jesus says in Luke 8:16 that no man lights a candle only to cover it up or put it under a bed, but he sets it high on a candlestick, so it could give light to all in the room. In the very same manner, God doesn’t hide us when he calls us. He doesn’t put us in a place we cannot be seen by others. Rather he places us where all can behold the light within us, which witnesses to the love of God. The love of God is expressed through us when we give what we have to supply another’s need (1John 3:16-18). This is the mark that reveals our identity. In other words, we lay down our lives in service to the Gospel of God and in service to one another, and greater love than this we cannot offer. It is our testimony that we are Christ’s, and he will cause everyone who knows us to identify us with himself (John 13:35).

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

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Posted by on June 4, 2015 in Jesus

 

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