Have you ever found yourself looking for something that you knew had to be right in front of you but you were just missing it?
Take this picture of ordinary coffee beans for instance. What if I were to tell you that in this pile of coffee beans was a man's face? Can you find it?
Once you find this guys face, you can always see it so plain.
Once you find it.
When it comes to spiritual things it is the same way. Once you spot something that you have been missing, it is never the same.
I want to share something with you that I had missed for a very long time and once I saw it, everything changed!
John, more so than the other disciples in my opinion, caught the heartbeat of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every time you find Jesus and His disciples together, you can take it to the bank that John was close to His Lord. His view of Christ in the gospel of John was Jesus as God. He refers to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved", not because Jesus loved John more than the other disciples but because John felt loved more than the other disciples.
John looked at Jesus and saw God's interactions with His creation. What John saw displayed in every word and gesture was God's incredible love for us. That love was what separated real from fake.
Jesus responded to the "religious crowd" of the Pharisees with the law. He did this to help these people understand that they in fact had not arrived yet. This in itself was an act of love. He responded to the blatant sinner with grace. This in itself was also a tremendous act of love. People mistake love for condoning and that is simply not the case.
In first John there is a eye opening passage that really reveals the acid test of a child of God from someone who is pretending. People pretend to be a Christian?
If people will spend their whole lives impersonating Elvis, is it really hard to believe that there are people who would even make a living impersonating Jesus under the title of Christian?
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." ~Matthew 7:13-23
This is a very sobering passage! Notice that fruits are mentioned. This is not activity or business for the Lord, this is a outcome that is only the result of the Holy Spirit. (Hence the Fruit of The Spirit) What is the fruit of the Spirit that is evidenced by a relationship with Him? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." ~ Galatians 5:22-23 What is the very first evidence or "Fruit"? LOVE. How do I spot the real from the fake? What is the first fruit to look for? Is genuine love displayed beyond just words? Not just towards you, but to others as they interact. This one is like the face in the coffee beans y'know? If it is missing then you can pretty much make the conclusions. This is love toward others by the way and should not be confused with genuine love for ones self. Look at what John had to say about this face in the coffee bean truth.
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." ~ 1 John 4:7-13
There is no wiggle room provided here. It is pretty plain. See the thing that makes this love possible is the resurrected Christ! He rose and we were given the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Emanuel was "God with us" and the Holy Spirit is God in us! He provides the ability to love with the love of God. You show me a person who "Cannot love" and I will show you a person who does not know God. It is impossible to love anyone in and of ourselves. Genuine love comes from a relationship with Christ.
I remember talking with a person once who referred to a family that had difficulty sitting through a preaching service as a "circus full of retards who messed everything up". The statement was made in frustration, but it was a surface marker a deeper seated problem. The ability to love was not at anytime genuinely displayed in this person's life despite a busy life of service to the Lord. This was not just my observation, but it was one that came from those who had deep interactions with them. Self love does not count in the 1 John 4 evidences of a believer.
I think when I finally saw the face in the coffee beans on this one it really helped illuminate the distinction between those who truly are His and those who say they are His. I used to excuse this behavior in other "believers" and especially in "Spiritual Leaders", but honestly there is no excuse for a bankruptcy of genuine love.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
In case you read through this passage too fast, it may be most beneficial if we re-read the passage above and sincerely ask yourself are if these descriptions apply in our life?
I love the way this passage ends, "And NOW abideth Faith, Hope, Love these three; but the greatest of these is Love."
If you are a believer, these things "Now Abide" in you!
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." ~Colossians 1:25-29
What was the mystery that had been hid? The Holy Spirit!
If you are a believer, The Holy Spirit of God resides within you.
You show me a person who "Cannot love" and I will show you a person who does not know God.
Do you remember the old song, "What's love got to do with it?"
(Ok, stop singing this song in your mind now)
Well it has everything to do with it!
The world cannot replicate genuine love. It cannot produce it in any form. The world and those around you are literally starving for genuine love. This love can only be found and given through a relationship with Christ!
If you are a believer you have everything you need to do this. If you still have not found the face in the coffee beans then you need to keep looking.
Climbing with you,