Christ had a lot to say about discipleship. Today’s reflection is on “360-Degree Love,” the defining characteristic of a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, God Incarnate, the Son of Man.
Consider Jesus’ words: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV) As I read this, I think of the four major directional headings of a compass: North, South, East, and West.
As we gaze up to the heavens, we realize the amazing majestic splendor of God our Father. Contemplating the entirety of Old Testament history and our continual compulsion to sinful idol worship, we repent. Our love for God grows as we grasp the full impact of Jesus Christ, his sacrificial offering on our behalf, and the mercy God has for us through Him.
The unmerited favor we have found in the arms of God Himself overwhelms us with such good news that even the hardest of hearts softens as God’s grace is revealed, and we love God more. As our hearts are healed by the power of this amazing love, our love for God grows deeper and wider.
This intimate love for God, surpassing any and all loves in our life, is one of four ways that others can tell we are true disciples of Christ. There are three more. Let’s look to the South.
The opposite of us looking up at God (North) is God looking down on us (South). Our heavenly Father loves us more than any of us will ever fully grasp. No matter how much time and energy we devote to this love relationship, there is always another level of intimacy we can attain. We will only reach total intimacy in Christ when, in Heaven, we see Him face to face. Until then, we must continue to carve out daily times throughout our day to sit with God and work on that love relationship. It is a continuous improvement process that takes daily nurturing, devotion, and therefore time.
As with our love for God, it is only possible because God first loved us. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV) God loves us, but it is up to us to receive that love. If we don’t accept His love for us, we are handicapped. We cannot give to others what we have not received from Christ. So receiving God’s love is a precursor to all discipleship. Without fully embracing the unconditional, never-ending flow of God’s love into our being, we will never be able to give this love to others. And failing to do so is the antithesis of being a disciple of Christ.
EAST and WEST
Tomorrow we will explore the East/West corridor of love. To the West (self-love) and the East (love of our fellows) are the natural result of having a mature, intimate North-South relationship.
Major markers of discipleship can be thought of as the four major headings on a compass.
We love God with all our hearts (North). We love the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the triune Godhead, because of God’s love for us. We fully accept Christ’s love (South).
As a result of this primary love relationship that we prioritize above all others, it becomes obvious to others that we are disciples of Christ. But it can’t stop here. The East-West corridor of loving self and loving others must be replete with a bountiful flow of Christ’s unconditional love in order for us, and the world, to have a complete picture of the omnidirectional, pervasive, never-ending love of God.
By this love, all will know we are Christ’s loving disciples.
Your aspiring servant, Daniel M.
January 9, 2024
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ.