Today’s devotional continues with the second part of “360-Degree Love.” This discipleship series explores what it means to be a disciple, the defining characteristic of a follower of Christ. Yesterday, we examined the North-South relationship between us and God, as informed by the scripture:
“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)
Visualizing God’s love as points on a compass, we think of it descending from the North. We reciprocate by loving God back, from the South. However, there's more to this 360-degree love.
The East/West corridor of God’s love is a rich space where we can shower ourselves and others with the love of Christ and bask in the glow of being fully loved, and fully loving others. To the West (self-love) and the East (love of our fellows) are the natural results of having a mature, intimate North-South relationship.
WEST - SELF-LOVE
Once we fully accept God’s love, we are free to love ourselves with Christ’s love. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV) God loves us, and we can intellectually accept that love, but if it only stays intellectual assent, we have failed to do what Christ tells us. Consider Christ’s second greatest commandment: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)
Yesterday, I wrote that if we don’t accept His love for us, we are handicapped. To add to that thought today, I would say we are also handicapped if we can’t take Christ’s love and allow it to envelop and consume us. I also wrote this yesterday: “We cannot give to others what we have not received from Christ.” So, receiving God’s love is a precursor to self-love and all effective discipleship. One last quote from yesterday: “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 - LOVE OF OTHERS
Almost nothing needs to be said about this vector except that this is the culmination of North, South, and West love routes. Christ loves us so that we can love others. He demonstrated His love for us as a role model for us to follow. In Christ’s words: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)
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). We love ourselves with Christ’s love (West). We love others with the love of Christ as we love ourselves with that same love (East).
Yesterday’s conclusion is the same as today’s summary:
As a result of this primary love relationship that we prioritize above all others, our North-South relationship becomes obvious to others, and we role model what it means to have intimacy with 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 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 10, 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.