What do you live for? This year, each month, I’ve been focusing on Scriptures that call God’s people to rethink what they live for. One of the most important reasons God saved us is to live to love with Jesus. It’s one of the ways He loves His own until He returns. As His love flows through His children and among His children, they display the miraculous work of God of unifying people who are diverse ethnically, geographically, politically, temperamentally, physically, intellectually, and sexually (male/female).
Naturally, people unify with each other because they share similarities. Because people live for themselves, it is reasonable for them to connect with people who are like them. The more similar one is to another person, the more likely they are to get along with each other. What makes Christians so different is that they have the supernatural ability to love one another despite their differences—and offenses. It is the love of Christ that controls them instead of self. The Apostle Paul put it this way to the Corinthians. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Apparently, Paul thought that unity among believers is one of the most impressive testimonies of the church to an unbelieving, skeptical world. This is the fifth reason for rethinking what you live for and committing yourself to live to love with Jesus. (The other four are: God is love. Jesus commanded us to love. Love is the proof that we are His. And, living to love with Him gives us confidence in the judgment).
Reason #5: Living to love is the perfect way that God unifies His body.
As Paul wrote to the Colossian church, he gave them two reasons that he was exhorting them to put on love above all things. The first is that they were holy and beloved by God. The second is that this determined focus in life to love is the perfect bond of unity among those who know Him and look to Him for life. “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14).
Consider the impact there would be in your community and the world if everyone in your church lived to know God and prayed that they might be filled with the power of Christ to love one another! Do you think there would be as many conflicts, disputes, and broken relationships in the church—and outside of it—if disciples of Jesus made knowing God and loving with Jesus their focus? Don’t you think there would be fewer divorces, and the different opinions and goals and other conflicts, such as in administrative or business matters, would be navigated with more grace?
Paul made an interesting comment to the Corinthians that relates to unity as a reason for living to love. He had heard that there were factions and divisions among them. In fact, he said those problems were necessary so that those who “were approved” by God would become evident. “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). Two verses in Hebrews 11 help us understand what Paul meant. The way God shows that He approves of a person is by the grace of faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (Hebrews 11:1-2). “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). In Galatians 5:6, Paul wrote that the only thing that matters in life is “faith working through love.” So when problems and divisions arise, those whom God approves shine in the darkness. They know and have been loved by God, and they want to love and please Him in return. They’ve learned that the only way to please Him is to trust Him during conflicts and look to Him for the power to love, forgive, and be patient. Unity within the body of Christ results when people intentionally focus on loving others with Jesus.
I’m not suggesting that living to love with Jesus means that we are to strive for unity with everyone, at all costs. Believers cannot unify with someone who rejects or despises the fundamental, core beliefs contained in the gospel. As Paul wrote, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)? However, unity with other believers is vital if we are to be lights shining in a dark world. It should be important to us because the name of Christ and the testimony of the power of His love is a primary issue for us. It trumps whatever differences we may have with others on secondary issues. Therefore, don’t you agree that God is calling His people to live to love with Jesus when He inspired Paul to write to the Colossians to “put on love”? Putting on love is an intentional commitment to live to love with Jesus.
What do you think now about living to love with Jesus? What is the testimony of your life revealed in your relationships with other believers? If you know that God united you with Jesus when you were a sinner, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds (Colossians 1:21), living to love with Jesus should enable you to forgive, forbear, and fellowship with other believers who have disappointed you, perhaps hurt or offended you, or hold different ideas or values from you on secondary issues. Indeed, living to love with Jesus is the proof that you know Him and have been perfectly united with Jesus and all who are in His body.
I hope you’ll consider diving more deeply into Jesus by reading Live to Love: Experience Freedom and Joy in Relationships. This resource is available for free in print as well as in ebook and audiobook formats at www.livetolovewithjesus.com. Intentionally living to love with Jesus will overcome the disunity with other believers in your life and restore freedom and joy in those relationships.