Loving Christ, Embracing Our World. The theme of the Twelfth General Conference of The Wesleyan Church has it in the correct order. We cannot reach our world properly if we do not have God’s love in us first and foremost. In fact, being in a daily, loving relationship with Jesus is the key to attempting anything for Him. How can we represent Him if we do not know Him? Why would we think we could give Jesus’ love away if our love for others is self-manufactured? Loving Christ as a priority is what keeps us going. It inspires us. It compels us. It gets us out of bed to go into a world with the gospel that desperately needs His forgiveness and discipleship. How do we expect to publicly love others if we don’t privately and corporately love Jesus?
Some try to love Christ and keep that love to themselves. Individuals, as well as churches, can both slip into this dysfunctional mode. His love is not for us to hoard. Jesus’ love has always been intended to be communicated to others. Someone told you and me about Him, and it’s high time we pass that on in order to multiply His Kingdom.
Something I often think of in regards to loving God (and, in turn, others) is how His attributes are listed in the Gospel of John. One of the seven statements John relays to us is that Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). In turn, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world,” in the Gospel of Matthew (5:14). It is the only “I AM” statement that reflects how Jesus expects us to “be” Him in the world (“You are . . . ”).
So, how do we love Christ and embrace our world? Light in the Scriptures is most often associated with the love of Christ or the truth of the gospel. We are to be God’s grace and truth in a world that is extremely judging and wish-wash. Does the world you live in need any light? Does your community need a gracious dose of God’s plumb line? If so:
- Love God first. We can love others while simultaneously loving God. However, it would be best if we knew why we are to love our neighbor to begin with. We love because He first loved us and we respond by loving Him and others.
- Love others for the right reason. We are to love others because they are all kinds of people like us. Jesus never loved someone while He walked on this earth because they could return a favor to Him someday. He loved everyone because that is what a person of Christ’s character and demeanor does. You’ll be known as a Christian by your love for Christ and His world.
- Spread Jesus’ light everywhere. Try it tonight in a dark room. When the light is switched on, the darkness has to leave. Is there any darkness in your world? My neighbors across the street need God’s comforting love because their adult son recently took his own life. Refugees in Central Africa desperately need to be embraced and their lives spared because of unthinkable persecution and execution. Leaders need God’s truth in knowing how to lead nations with the standards of biblical behavior. God’s love is needed in our homes, churches, and communities in more ways than we may be aware.
Embrace your world by loving Christ. Love Christ and embrace your world. Let the love He fills you with ooze out of your head, heart, hands, and habits. Be His light in a world that is seemingly full of darkness. Don’t make it too difficult. Start today. Show the kindness and acceptance of God toward someone next to you as well as someone across the globe this week. Jesus is the light of the world. And so are you.
Dr. Jim Dunn is General Director of Spiritual Formation for The Wesleyan Church.