Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Strength and Love

Even when we think we are strong we are really relying on someone else’s strength to keep us going. I see it over and over again in my life. When I am frustrated in ministry or when I feel like a lousy dad or husband someone comes alongside me and gives me a word of encouragement to help keep me going. When I am tired and feel like quitting my workout, the trainer on the DVD reminds me to breathe through the pain.

I saw a news program about three Americans held captive in Columbia. They were hostages of a terrorist organization for five years. Every one of them said that the thing that kept them going was the thoughts of home and their family.

We often think that it is our love for Christ that keeps us going. We believe that we do all the things we do because we love God so much. Most of the things we do may be legitimate responses to God, but they are merely that: responses to his love.

We are propelled forward by God’s love. It is not our nature to love and to serve. It is our response to him that strengthens us. Our feeble attempts at love for God are always reactionary because as scripture says, “he first loved us.”

I was reading this morning from Walt Wangein’s book “Reliving the Passion.” He speaks of Jesus telling the disciples that they will all fall away and how Peter adamantly denied that he would. Wangerin makes the point that what motivated Peter’s love was the love he experienced from Jesus. It becomes the motivating factor in our lives. However, our response to Jesus love is a response to something that Jesus initiates and preserves.

I was drawn from the passage in Mark 14 to 1 John 1. There we are told that our confession of sin brings about God’s forgiveness of sin. But all the action of payment and forgiveness rests on Christ. Our responsibility in the process is simple acknowledgement that we cannot pay for our sins on our own.

I am often arrogant enough to think that my life somehow demonstrates how much I love God. It is in those moments that I am fully puffed up and full of my own pride. My life is a reaction at best to God. We must be careful to understand that the power to overcome, to continue and to follow Christ is not found in ourselves, but in the power of the eternal character of God.

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