We had an amazing experience last week in Awaken with our students in what we called “The Table”. We came around the table together to discuss the various ways that Jesus set an example for us to follow, and also to be reminded of how we are to remember Him and to allow what He has already done for us to dictate an overflow of our hearts into our everyday lives. My hope is that our students (and all of us Youth leaders as well) take what we learned this week and live it out going forward in love and humility to show the grace and mercy of Christ to those around us.
As a church family, we’re spending the next several weeks looking at what it is like to truly love Jesus (that is, actively doing so each day and not leaving it to mental assent or mere words). As we continue this study, we have to keep in the front of our minds that our love for Christ comes not from our own initiative, but it comes from the love that He has already shown and extended to us. This reality is so much more crucial than we often think it is. We cross into dangerous territory when we presume that we are in a position to “go first” or initiate something with the Lord. Here’s why: God in His triune existence has always been there, meaning that He came before you or me. He has been active long before we were even a thought (even though He did think of us way before anyone else did). He has ALWAYS been the initiator. From our perspective, we tend not to want to take on anything new (meaning, we don’t want to start something else) because we are under the illusion that we’re operating at full capacity, all the time. When we fool ourselves by thinking we have the first move to make in a relationship with Christ, we somehow justify our not engaging Him because we don’t want to add one more thing to our plate or start something else for fear that we’ll fail to follow through. Here’s the deal though: God is the one who has taken the initiative with us (NOT the other way around), and our only option is to respond.
Respond to Him. Not start something with Him.
Jesus loved us first; therefore we love in return to what He has already done.
We see the explicit Gospel laid before us in its fullness (God’s initiative with us), and we have no choice but to respond. And let’s not be foolish enough to think that a delayed response is “holding God off” for a time. It’s not like waiting to reply to someone’s email or text. You may have heard the phrase “delayed obedience is still disobedience” (and if you’re a parent you totally buy in here). It’s very similar in our response to Him and our expression of love towards Him. It’s either a yes or a no, “I love Jesus” or “I don’t love Jesus”. “I will later” means “no” today.
Jesus loved YOU first. What is your response?