What does it mean ‘to follow His Son Jesus…’?
Our Call—Love as I Have Loved You
By Mike Gladieux
To be a disciple of Jesus means to have a relationship with Him and to be like Him. This is far more central than any particular thing that we can do for Him. Love is the virtue which makes our relationships work right. After a few months something else happened that struck me and broadened my perspective on these matters. We were given some prophecies from the joint gathering held on Pentecost Sunday. There was a certain prophesy in particular that spoke directly to me. In this one part that I am quoting from, The Lord is revealing in a special way some significant sins that He wants all of us to be free of. This is a part of one of the words:
“Today, this day I choose to reveal to you what you pretend to have held in secret. But there are no secrets from me. … Today, on this day, what I see in your hearts is this: I see envy, strife, competition, jealousy, pride, a critical spirit, judgmentalism, bitterness, gossip, vindictiveness, a mean spirit, strife, disunity, chaos, and yes, even hatred … “
What struck me about this list is that these are all sins against Love. I thought about my situation, and that it was infested with sins against Love. I also realized that my personal situation was only a subset of the work that God was speaking about in this prophecy. He was actually speaking to all of us in The Word of God and to all of the brothers and sisters in The Word of Life about this matter, about sins against Love. So He wanted to do something for all of us in this area and was not just dealing with me and my personal issues. So my perspective on my own situation was broadened as it was placed within the context of a work that The Lord was doing with us all as individuals and as a people. I now view these matters as sins that war against or destroy our everyday life together; that is, family life, work relationships, friendships with neighbors, community relationships with brothers and sisters, and our relationship with The Lord Himself.
I think that this matter has a direct bearing on what we have been seeking The Lord for: vision for The Word of God. This prophecy signals a work of the Holy Spirit that has a direct relationship to us as a people, as a community.
Vision and Love
I was on my way to a “Vision” meeting at Phil and Barb Tiews’ house. As I drove down Brooks street I realized that I was going to be quite early, in fact I would get there more than 15 minutes before it was to start. So I decided to stop. I pulled to the side of the street and prayed a bit and opened the Bible. Here is what I read.
This is from the introduction to the book of Numbers from the Open Bible:
Israel follows God step-by-step until Canaan is in sight. Then in the crucial moment at Kadesh they draw back in unbelief. Their murmurings had already become incessant. “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity before The Lord.” (Num 11:1) But their unbelief at Kadesh-barnea is something God will not tolerate. Their rebellion at Kadesh marks the pivotal point of the book. The generation of the exodus will not be the generation of the conquest.
They could not enter their inheritance, their promise. I saw that this was not a vindictive response by The Lord. They had to have courage in order to fight. They did not. They were cowards. Whimps, wuss’s and pantywaists. He had shown them His power in many ways, but they did not or could not rely on Him. Think of the battle against the Amalekites, where Joshua mowed them down as long as Moses could keep his arms raised up. The whole situation was designed to show the Israelites clearly that it was The Lord who was fighting for them and giving them the victory. There were many varied examples of this during their desert wanderings. But now at the critical moment they were overcome with fear. Therefore they could not enter into the conquest of the land. Fear and cowardice were intrinsically opposed to what they had to do/be in order to claim their inheritance. They needed courage, grounded in trust in God. They didn’t have it. The next generation would inherit the promise, but they would not.
Brothers and sisters, there are not many of us left. Many have moved into different aspects of the Lord’s call on their lives, but many have departed and lost all hope of what we were called to by The Lord. And those of us who are left are divided into two camps. Now think about this question? What was/is His calling? I say “was/is” because His calling is not really going to change. It is the purpose for which He formed us, named us, and made a covenant with us, His purpose for us. This cannot change. We are not on plan B. So our original calling and purpose is still intact. Also, even if we are administered as two communities, the original calling is still the same, and should apply to all of us in both communities. What is our inheritance as a people? What is the promise that The Lord has offered to us? What is it that He holds out to us as our purpose in His plan?
Called to Love
Listen to this portion of our covenant as a community:
In order to respond to what God is doing among us, in order to express more fully how we are to be the people He is calling us to be, once again we declare our desire to give our whole lives to Him, to follow His Son, Jesus, and to live more and more in the Holy Spirit. We desire to love and serve Him in lives of daily prayer and service; to praise and worship Him always; to ever seek His face; to know and serve the truth of His Word in the joy, peace, and love of the Holy Spirit; to believe what He speaks to us and to be obedient to the truth of His Word and the guidance of His Spirit; to offer hospitality to those whom He sends us; to widen our hearts to receive those He adds to our number; and to carry out the mission that He is entrusting to us. Above all, we desire to be a people who always grow, by His great mercy, in the fervor of that first love He has given us: He who is our all. We desire to consecrate our lives to Him not simply as individuals, but as members of a people, members of The Word of God.
We are to be brothers and sisters in the Lord, loving each other from the heart. Indeed there was a prophecy back then which said that in the later days we would be known for our love more than for our teaching or wisdom. And the sins against Love are directly opposed to our entering into The Lord’s promise to us, to our inheritance. Now at this time God is offering us a chance to fulfill the promise that He had for us from the beginning. Here are some examples of what we might expect as this work of The Lord progresses.
- People will be overwhelmed by His love for us.
- People will get “zapped” by simply attending a prayer meeting
- We will Love each other and value our relationships with each other above all others.
- We will realize the importance of our life together and there will be great excitement as we talk about it and share it with each other. How precious our community life is!
Brothers and sisters, sins against Love are intrinsically incompatible with the promise or calling that The Lord has given to us because our inheritance is to love each other and Him, from the heart.
The life of the Trinity
My brother Chuck who was ten years older than I. On his wedding day he got up and my Mom asked him what he wanted for breakfast, before his wedding. He said pancakes, as usual. We always liked pancakes the best. My Mom said “You won’t be doing this again. This is the last time.” She knew, and we all knew, that his relationship with us was changing forever. We were turning a corner. He was leaving the house to get married and start a new life. So certain daily happenings, so much a part of our life together, would not be any more. Of course, he would start a new life with his wife. In this way she would begin to share the Gladieux family life, and we would be gaining a daughter.
What happened when Jesus left His Father’s house is like this, changing His relationship with the Father forever, leaving behind certain intimate things that once were part of their relationship within the Trinity. But He left in order to take a bride to Himself, and we are invited to take part in the life of the Trinity.
“For this reason a man shall leave His Father and His mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and the church.” Eph 5:31-2
Yes, Jesus is not just calling us servants or friends. He is calling us to be His Bride, His beloved. He has granted us to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the wedding chamber is waiting for us to enter. The Spirit says to us “Be clothed in fine linen, without spot or wrinkle. Be fully prepared for the wedding.” The linen He is offering us and asking us to put on is not the symbolic ones that we put on years ago. These are the real ones, the divinely-designed ones.
This universal Christian truth is at the very center of why He formed us and of who we are. This was central to our calling from the beginning and it remains our heart and soul still today. The Lord is still viewing us AND our sister community The Word of Life as under the original covenant that He made with us. He is calling us all into that first love again, individually and as brothers and sisters together, even as two communities toward one another.
We enter into God’s family and His divine relationships via marriage, and we are called to live that life on this earth and in these bodies. The relationships that He has given us here are a reflection of what awaits us in heaven. So we will feel right at home when we get there. We will dwell with Him as his Beloved, and we’ll be right at home doing so. But we don’t have to wait until we get there to enter into our inheritance. The blessing of being His disciples is that we can enter into it now. That is His gracious gift to those who follow Him.
Repenting of sins against Love
Now let’s return to that prophesy from the Pentecost gathering. The word He spoke signals that at this time He wants to wash us with water by His word so that we can enter more fully into what He has for us. So here are the spots and wrinkles that The Spirit wants to cleanse from as at this time. The real “fine linen, clean and white” is in constant need of cleaning and pressing to remove the spots and wrinkles. This is because of our sin nature. So repentance must be a recurring fact of life for us, a life style. This is how we keep ourselves ready for Him and pleasing to Him, without spot or wrinkle. So let’s look at this list of sins again.
Envy: A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by the desire for the possessions or qualities of another person.
When we are rightly connected to Jesus, when we are abiding in Him, then He can fulfill our heart’s longings so that this cannot even gain a slight foothold in us. No more insecurity in Him.
Strife: Heated, often violent dissension; bitter conflict. (Synonym - Discord)
Competition: Struggle between people for food, water, space, or other resources when the supply is limited. Jesus Himself wants to be our sufficiency.
Jealousy: The thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over the anticipated loss of something that we value, such as a relationship, a friendship, or love.
Jealousy often consists of a combination of emotions such as anger, sadness, and disgust.
Another description of jealousy is fear or wariness over being supplanted; apprehension about the possibility of losing affection or position.
If we are rightly connected to Him then He will fill us up. His acceptance and love will support us at the deepest part of our being. We will be invulnerable to jealousy.
Pride: An arrogant or disdainful attitude toward others; haughtiness. Pride is also an excessively high opinion of ourselves; conceit.
Critical spirit: An inclination to judge as a critic, to find fault, to blame or to condemn.
Judgmental: Inclined to pass judgment, critical.
Bitterness: Proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity. It is also an attitude that is marked by resentment or cynicism.
Jesus can give us a tender loving compassion for people that makes this something that does not even enter our minds.
Gossip: Rumor or talk of a personal, intimate, or sensational nature. Vindictiveness: This is a disposition to seek revenge. It is also marked by a desire to hurt someone; spiteful.
This is so petty; do we really need to worry about this? What about in our relationship with our spouse? You know, “you can’t just let yourself be walked all over. Hey emotional abuse can be far worse than physical abuse! Besides, someone has to speak the truth in these situations …” Jesus wants to release His pure selfless love into the very center of our lives. Love one another as I have loved you. A transformed marriage.
Mean Spirit: characterized by or displaying a propensity to be mean; selfish, malicious, etc.. It is characterized by pettiness.
What about when driving in the car? How do we think/speak about other drivers? Are we quick to accuse, find fault, criticize, blame? Do we have an “auto ego”? Jesus wants to grow in us a spirit of mercy and goodness, forbearing and thinking the best of others as our first response.
Disunity: lack of unity; especially dissension or disagreement.
Chaos: A condition of great disorder or confusion.
James 3:16 -- For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder (chaos) and every evil practice.
Hatred: Intense dislike of or extreme aversion or hostility toward another person.
This is another extreme one. When are we ever likely to be drawn into this? How about political rhetoric? Much of it is based on this dynamic. That is why it is so difficult to listen to sometimes. Also, it is like a heavy burden on our hearts. It weighs too much for us to carry.
Jesus wants instead to give us rest for our souls. Trust in Him to finally set right all these things. He wants to give us a new dynamic in which to think about and talk about those with whom we disagree, characterized by grace and kindness. We are to love our enemies. We are to love those around us who are of the world.
Be His word of Love
Brothers and sisters, do we want to be God’s word to the whole face of the earth? Well, then we should be a word of Love. And let us start by being His word to our husbands and wives, our children and parents, our co-workers, our friends and neighbors. Remember the song “What the world needs now is Love, sweet Love. That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of … Lord, not just for some, but for everyone.” (Written by Burt Bacharach and sang by Dionne Warwick, 1965) But we have the power to actually implement this. It is a whole new dynamic for our relationships.
Changes like this in us will unleash His power within this world. It is dynamite. This is the life of the Heavenly City, of the New Jerusalem. This is the divine life which God exhibited in the councils of the Trinity before all time. “I want them to see My glory Father, the glory that I shared with You before the worlds were formed.” This is truly being like Jesus Himself. It is out of this world.
This is how all men will know that we are His disciples.