A Family Resemblance
“You must be a Jordan… ”
Whether shopping at a grocery store in my parent’s hometown or stopped by a stranger in an airport, I can’t tell you the number of times I've heard that statement. I guess I should be used to it by now, but it still never fails to surprise me when I ask, “Yes, How did you know?” that the stranger will reply, “Oh, that’s easy, you just look like one.”
I think most of us get this on a physical level. We have our mother’s nose or our father’s eyes, and we are recognized as being related to them because of these physical characteristics. Yet what about our spiritual lives? Do people see us and recognize that we belong to the family of God? Are we accused of being a Christian because our lives bear the evidence of Christ? If not, they should! Oswald Chambers said it best, “The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus.”
Here’s the truth: when you and I place faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, we become children of God (John 1:12). At that point, we know God as our Heavenly Father and His Spirit indwells us and fills us with His life, enabling us to live a life that brings Him honor and glory (Romans 8:14-16).
And what is the chief characteristic that the world should see in us that gives evidence that God is our Father? “Oh! I got it! We wear a cross necklace?” Nope. “What about putting one of those Jesus fishie thingies on our car?” Wrong again. “I've got it... a Christian is someone who avoids certain people or places.” Three strikes.
The Bible spells out the answer in a simple four-letter word, L.O.V.E. Love is the mark, the chief characteristic, and the defining family trait in the life of a follower of Jesus. As the old saying goes, “they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Just as when someone looks at my blue eyes and sees my dad’s, so too should someone look at our actions and see our Father in Heaven. After all, as 1 John 4:7-8 states, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
God is love.
What is love? Thankfully, the Bible spells that out for us too. One of the most famous verses in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. I can smell roses and hear a wedding anthem playing as I type these words. After all, this scripture is read at EVERY wedding ceremony. I digress. Let me put away the bouquet and get back to my point… this passage defines for us what love truly is:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I don’t know about you, but when I read that list I want to throw in the towel. Who is able to produce this kind of love 100% of the time? Not me! Here’s the truth, we can’t manufacture this love on our own. No one can, except Jesus. God produces it in us by His Spirit. That’s why when Paul describes the “fruit” (produce, get it?) of the Spirit in Galatians; the first characteristic mentioned is love.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:23-24)
So…how is love produced in us?
First, we remain connected to Jesus. John 15:1-5 is a great teaching on this subject. In this passage, Jesus reminds us that He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing. Translation? We can’t bear fruit apart from Christ. Just as a grape branch produces grapes when connected to the vine, so too will we produce love when we are connected to Christ. We stay connected to Christ through worship, daily reading His Word and prayer.
Second, we confess any areas that don’t align with God’s love. By examining our hearts, motives, words and deeds we will quickly discover attitudes and actions that aren't motivated by love. Such as: greed, jealousy, bigotry, lying, gossip… When we see this kind of fruit, we must quickly confess it as sin and ask God to replace it with His love.
Third, Pray! I've learned over and over again that prayer is the key to the victorious Christian life. When we ask Him, God fills us with His spirit and gives us the ability to love when we would otherwise react in our old sinful nature. Test this one out! The next time you are faced with a situation that tempts you to react in anger or jealousy, ask God to fill you with His response instead. I promise you will be amazed at the great harvest of fruit! Let’s practice this together:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I desire to live a life that brings you glory. I confess that apart from Your Holy Spirit, I am selfish and I don’t love as I should. Help! Please show me any areas that I am not acting in love. (Confess anything that comes to mind.) I pray that I would decrease and Christ Jesus would increase. Please fill me with your Spirit and give me your love. I pray specifically that You would enable me to love _____________as You love her/him/them. Apart from You, I can do nothing!
I ask this in Jesus Name.
It is my prayer that each of us walks in a manner worthy of Christ in 2010. I pray that we reflect to the world His beauty and His glory as His love is manifested in and through us. I hope you will point others to your Heavenly Father as His love is evidenced in you.
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