Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 22, 23

 

It is not easy to love others, and although it would seem that this sort of thing should get easier in the context of the church, historic behavior has not demonstrated that to be true. In fact, some of the time this sort of closeness and the passion of deep conviction can collide in ways that make the relationships of people within the church among the most explosive in all of human interaction. If Jesus were standing here among us today, He would tell us to stop behaving in this manner and to start actually loving Him by entering into the love that He pours out onto us. This eternal love is one that goes wherever it needs and engages with whatever is required in order to bring any of us who will turn to God into a place of peace and communion with God. This is the love that cleanses our hearts and minds of the opposition to our Lord that was ours from birth and that purifies our souls so that we can stand before God as redeemed beings who are fit to be in His presence.

 

It is Christ’s love that forms up the bond that we can think of in terms of family bonds, for He takes each of His followers out of our kinship with the clan of the world and adopts us into the Father’s family of faith. It is here, in the context of relationships that are founded and built upon the Christ’s blood and that are bound together in its kinship, that we can truly and faithfully love others as if they were sisters and brothers in every sense that those identities convey. That does not mean that every interaction is free from tension or even from strife. What it does require is for each of us to set aside our need to be right and our desire to rule the day so that we can enter into the story that others desire to tell and so that we can actually hear what it is that they are saying when they tell these life tales. As we surrender self and our self-driven and oriented desires to those of Christ, we are free to enter into the familial love that binds us to others, even to those who are very different from us.

 

These are the sorts of bonds that are not formed through contracts or by virtue of human agreements. Their primary existence is in the rare air of faith, and the binding agent in this entire sphere is Christ’s love, grace, and truth. Each of us grows in our ability to dwell in this atmosphere of love and peace as we submit ourselves more and more fully to Christ in repentance and openness to His Spirit’s in filling of wisdom and guidance for the way that we enter into righteous thinking and living. It is God’s Word that sets out what we need to know and that also grants to us the vocabulary of our prayer as we call out to God to grant to us the supernatural capacity to live well as His daughters and sons. As God’s holy and precious words provide the language of our conversation with God, His Spirit gives us the breath that we need to sustain long periods of contemplation and listening. For the Spirit seems to fill the lungs with heavenly oxygen so that Christ’s life giving truth and love are carried to every cell of the body as we are strengthened and encouraged to love well and to live out Christ’s love throughout the day.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 10, 11

 

There are times when the best thing that I can do is to just stop. Stop moving, talking, planning, considering, contemplating, worrying, debating, deciding, and solving. Just be … just be truly … just be absolutely … still. I need to allow myself to go to the level of calm where all I can hear is my own heart beating, and then allow it to slow and embrace the stillness.

 

When I get all settled in, and the world around me stops pulling at my mind, the voice of God starts to fill my heart, and His words are like a whispered promise and like the roaring of ocean waves against the rocks. They speak of His love and of His peace. The Lord reminds me that He won’t ever leave me for He meant it when He spoke His eternal vows to me. My heart hears God’s love song, and it is a song that seems to have been written especially for me. He speaks about my life, my fears and concerns, and my glorious future with Him.

 

It is in the stillness that God speaks most clearly. These are the times when my mind just gives up on trying to solve it all and when I stop feeding a tired heart the adrenalin of my attempts to run the race of life on my own and in my strength. The Lord says that I just need to listen to Him and reflect on who He is and on what He has done throughout history. Just be still, and know with all of my being, know from the depths of my soul that there is only one God, and He is my loving Father, my Lord and Savior.