This year we are wondering how God lets his love live among us, and we are pondering how we might let love live among us a little more.
We have already established that the starting point for loving each other is not each other or our own self. The starting point that makes this self-giving love of God live among us is not us, but God. It is his love that is the source and power for our love for each other.
This is a relief! If the source and power for loving each other is us, then we will hear this Passion account over Lent and this command to love each other from John as a law, a rule to be kept, a test to be passed, an example we must follow, a work to perform in order to be loved by God.
But, if the source and power of love for each other comes from God in this Son of God and Saviour, Jesus, then letting love live among us is entirely possibly and freeing because we are the not having to pass any test, keep any score, merely try and follow an example or perform any work to achieve or earn this love. We already have it. He gives it. We just live in it.
But how do we loved people of God live it? How do people of Jesus’ way of let love live?
We find it difficult to love. We struggle with this old way of self-promoting, self-serving love. Jesus names it here in the Sermon on the Mount as ‘putting on a show for others to see’ that looks all pious and holy outwardly, but is actually inwardly, self-attention seeking and seeking self-glory.
So he tells us to ‘be careful’ how we let love live….
How do we do that? How do we guard our hearts form that pull to get the glory and fake the show? How do we let HIS love live more in us and through us for each other?
Here we have the three great ways to let love live, spoken by Jesus on that famous Sermon on the Mount.
The three great ways to let love live are;
All three are about what is most treasured in our hearts because as Jesus says;
Praying to your Heavenly Father shows a heart that seeks God’s input, God’s presence, God’s words, God’s gifts of water and word, bread ad wine, the community of encouragement from others: his support, truth and love in your day.
Fasting from things of pleasure and need shows a heart that wants and needs the presence and truth and love of God more than all other loves.
Giving shows a heart that allows the generosity of God and also downgrades things of pleasure and need for yourself as you give them away for the good of others and their needs and pleasure.
Of course, our problem is the old one of self-deception and self-grandeur. This human heart within loves the credit and the show and the affirmation of others so much.
- Praying can be a way to get everyone to notice how spiritual and close to God we are.
- Fasting can be a way to get people to marvel at how disciplined and committed we are to God.
- Giving can be a way to receive the praise of others for our generosity.
All three can be a very surface level, not ‘heart-engaged’ relationship: a mere religious or customary activity rather than an outworking of a daily living relationships with a loving heavenly Father, older brother and Saviour, and Holy Spirit, counsellor and guide.
Lent is all about letting the Lord tell you a few home truths about where your heart is, not to condemn you or shame you, but to bring you back to your true North, your home place – the Kingdom of God, the relationship you have with God forged by Jesus for you on that cross.
So, were is your heart? You will only find it as you ponder, or let the Spirt show you the truth about where your treasure is – what you are striving for, working for, laying down lots of things for; what you are craving, desiring, seeking…..
We will see again this Lent that Jesus wants all the great reward of love, hope and joy to be yours as you give over your heart to him as your greatest treasure – the One you seek, the One you desire, the One you listen to most, want affirmation from the most.
When your treasure is the gospel of Jesus, the giving and fasting and praying with him for others is the reward that satisfies – a life of hope, peace and above all, great love – all undeserved, all pure gift. All grace.
Let love live? Yes. Why not pray some a little more? Why not fast of a loved thing to gain that clarity and break that need; that hold over you?
Why not give of yourself a little more to someone, your church community, a cause, a person that you don’t benefit from in any way, except in the great reward of knowing you are contributing a good thing for someone or a group in Jesus’ name.
Let love live: Pray, Fast and Give. That is our Lent.