Here’s a story I like to repeat whenever I get the chance. It’s in regard to having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Here’s how it happens. This relationship begins with God calling us to come to him (He is always the initiator). “You,” I like to say, “may hear him calling you right now. You’ll know it when he calls you.” When he does call, we have a small part to play, which is simply to say “Yes.”
(Of course He calls us! He sent his Son to reconcile us to himself. He did that by placing all the rebellion of our lives on Jesus–as he died on a Roman cross–so that this perfect Son would make the payment for our rebellion. He didn’t stop there: God raised Jesus from the grave to give us life. Having done all this, of course God calls us, invites us to come, giving us light to say “yes.”)
When we say “yes,” Jesus takes us to himself. “You will probably hear him saying that he loves you.” We sense his love, and it is profound. It is like no other love we have ever experienced. Then, he puts Himself inside us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Once there, at our “yes” invitation, he begins to change us from the inside-out. We will notice that our desires begin to change. Things that were dead inside us are now being awakened. The Holy Spirit is nudging us toward becoming more like Jesus.
As he begins to change us (by living inside us, and through us), he also gently begins to turn us around to face the world and culture—the community—from which he has just rescued us. He goes with us (he’s inside us, right?) as he releases us back in to that world. Now we are there no longer as mere consumers of life and culture, but we are there with Him, as agents of this new life, for the sake of others. His desire from the beginning has been to “put things to right” in the world he created. We become his cooperative friends in that mission. We link up with others who are on that same mission, who have said “yes” to God’s call.
Here it is from II Corinthians 5:17-20 in THE MESSAGE: “Now we look inside, and what we see is anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”
In the story, we talk about Jesus taking us to himself, and then putting himself inside us. That is the “indwelling Holy Spirit.” He “rearranges” things inside us. We begin to think differently, our wants change, and we LOVE differently. We will hear Him saying to us, “I Love You.”
A “Lord” who loves us? A Master who desires our friendship and our good? Benevolence doesn’t usually enter the equation when we say the words lord, master, or even “boss.” So, for our new Lord to lead with “I Love You” is a new thought. But we begin to get that he loves us as we learn about his death and resurrection. Those are usually the first things we learn about him in order to open the door for us to have a relationship with him. Then we begin to hear his teaching through which we understand the Love of God for us, the love we sense for others (he’s working in us), and how to respond to a world culture that needs to be Loved in this different way.
I think that if we think we will go on loving ANYONE as we did before, we are confused. This is Love of a different kind.
Today I had a few moments when I heard the Spirit whisper, “I love you, Mike.” It made me then respond, “Ok, let’s go clean up the yard together.” That may sound sort of superficial, but for me it was a way of illustrating, and experiencing, that surrender to him is a full-life experience (Raking leaves with JOY!). Just like I am, right where I am, he loves me…and it’s not weird. But, I remembered how Jesus said, “Make yourself at home in my love.” (John 15:9 MESSAGE) Doing so changes me.
I hope you can make yourself at home in His love some today…
Praying for you all,