Yesterday I had a conversation with a fellow pastor about how cruel our society continues to grow towards one another and how that has even moved into the church. We seek to hide our cruelty behind words like "constructive criticism" but yet the number of personal and cruel attacks is growing within our society (in my opinion) as self continues to trump all else.
What's interesting is last evening as the elders of Grace gathered to finish off a study we had been working on together from the book "Who You are When No One's Looking", we worked through a chapter on radical love. The very title of the chapter stated, "Radical Love, Breaking the Cycle of Hostility". I could not help but think back to that earlier conversation in the day about cruelty and the general anger and hostility people live life with. Whenever self is threatened, infringed upon or offended, people get angry, hostile and even cruel. What a call to show radical love like Christ did where a self sacrificing love for God and others trumps our love for self.
I was struck with the truth last evening that we are called to have the character of Christ which includes that call to show radical love. I know I can't do that all by myself! I can try and love others like Christ did, but my old nature fights that and if all I do is try to possess the character and love of Christ, I'm sunk. But, here was the great news from the final chapter of the book we read together as the elders. Once we trust Christ and become His disciples, we have a father in heaven who calls us His children and makes us heirs with Christ as our full identity is no longer wrapped up in self but rather fully in Christ. With this truth in mind, I was reminded that what I really need to concern myself with daily is the call to abide in Christ (the vine). The only way I'm going to possess the character of Christ and show radical love instead of love for self is to rest, live and abide continuously in the vine.
So... my simple prayer today is to petition God to help me ABIDE IN CHRIST (John 15:1-17)which in turn will continue the process of conforming my character (including the way I love others). If we as Christ followers will do this, then we continue to break the cycle of hostility and cruelty which is so prevalent within our world and even the church at times.