Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love Brings the Increase!

      One of the "normal" clichés in the Christian community is "I must decrease so that Christ might increase."  We've taken this scripture of John 3: and made it a focus, a mantra for living.  It was used of John the Baptist as his ministry was transitioning.  He had fulfilled his calling, preparing the way of the Lord.  Now Jesus was there. It was time for his ministry to lessen.  Knowing the context of the verse changes things a bit.  But still there are questions to be answered.


     Can Christ really increase in me? Isn't He already fully in me?  Can I receive any more of Him?  Doesn’t He come into my life all at once?  


     Didn't I receive all of Him when I exchanged my life for His?  Can I make myself decrease?  Is that really possible?  Doesn't that still make life about me, somehow and what I can do?  Isn't that still in some aspects hanging onto my life by making it my work?


     The performing flesh was never meant to be made better, it was meant to be crucified.  The beauty of the crucified flesh is that it's an invitation to come afresh into the arms of love, exchanging my works for His.  It's no longer about what I can do it's now about responding to love and allowing love to transform me.  The more love I embrace and experience the more my life decreases allowing Christ's life stored in me to be revealed.


     Everything Jesus did He did out of love.  He didn't have to beat His flesh, He just surrendered to love and out of that fulfilled the destiny of His life.  My flesh was never meant to be beaten, it was meant to be crucified, killed, forever.


     Everything falls into place as I move into being loved.  He is the life in me. He is the breath that moves in and out of my lungs.  He is the work in me.  He is the increase.  He is the love.


     Can you imagine what it would be like to not pray, worship, read the love letters of God, go to church, give money unless your heart was stirred by love?  And what if you felt the stirring but did not respond?  Would there be guilt and condemnation?  Would you give yourself the proverbial brow beating?


     Can you fathom a love that would delight in you even if you didn't respond, even if you never did anything?  Isn't that what unconditional love is really? Isn't unconditional love a "no expectations, no requirements, no strings attached" love?  


     When you really grasp a love like that don't you find yourself wanting to do all those things?  Think about when you fell in love.  Was there any effort to spend time with the one who pursued you with his love?  Wasn't it just natural to respond to the pursuit?


     As I am swallowed up in His love, life unfolds before me.  Worship is opened up to me in a deep and personal way.  I am singing songs to the one who loves me perfectly.  His love letters come to life while reading as I kisses from His lips to my heart.  Tithing is no longer a mandate, but it now becomes an opportunity to give away love.  Prayer becomes an intimate encounter with the love of my life. There's no longer need for discipline, it can now flow out of those intimate places of the pursuit of love.


     It's really that simple.  Love is the answer.  It's the message of the cross, the resurrection and the ascension.  Creation, and the rescue of man, are the Father's invitation to enter in and be loved.  It was love that brought us here.  It is love that will take us home.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  It changes everything, even you, even me.


     Cinderella, a servant girl, laid down mop and bucket to be swept up into a fairy tale love story.  An unlikely candidate to be a princess, she was seen in all her beauty and loved.  


     You are His Cinderella.  He created you to love you, no strings attached.  You are the object of His affections.  He has been pursuing you since you breathed your first breath.  What do you say, will you throw down your mop and bucket and be swept up in love?  Love never fails.


     For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39


©copyright:  2008 Julie L. Todd


9 comments:

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Beautiful, my friend. Similar to how we always have enough love for each baby that we bring home...

I find that you write things which are all things I know, but you write them on my heart so that I k.n.o.w. :)

Amy said... Reply to comment

Beautiful!!

My GREATEST desire in this life is that the love you have written about today will flow out of me continually, drawing every person I know...to Christ.

Lord, let us all LOVE each other the way You LOVE us!!

In His amazing grace,
Amy

Sharon said... Reply to comment

This is exactly the good news the Lord has my husband and I spreading. He Loves us sooo much!!
Amennnnnn

Angie said... Reply to comment

Oh Julie...I love that! AND I understand it more---as we've journeyed through this study on the life of Jesus---I have left other things that once consumed my time. TV--goofing off on the computer--etc. AND in the place of that---I have found my relationship with Jesus to have grown. But there's still room for more growth. I see it every single time something crops up in my life that goes against the grain. I act according to the uncrucified flesh at times.

More time with HIM is necessary to stay on track. To not lose focus. His return in immenint. I can hardly wait!

He is working through your keyboard and heart dear friend!

Joyful said... Reply to comment

Great post! Less of me - oh how that is my heart's desire as well. Daily I have to die to self. It's a continual surrendering. Oh, to be filled with the fullness of the Lord.

So thankful for His unconditional love,
Joy

Laura said... Reply to comment

Julie,

You know I have been thinking deeply about love lately...

It's so amazing, HIs love for me. It heals and opens eyes and tenders hearts and...It can do all things!

I love to read your thoughts, my friend. You have such a way of revealing HIs heart.

I love you! I'm wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving that is filled with His presence!

2nd Cup of Coffee said... Reply to comment

Great post, Julie. Hoping you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Lelia Chealey said... Reply to comment

No, I cannot imagine and I don't ever want to. Sometimes I just take Him for granted...how sad for me and Him.
Another wonderful post straight from your heart.
love the way you share with us Julie.
love
Lelia

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

Keep writing Julie. We may be continents away from each other and you may not know me personally but this post brought me to tears. :) How wonderful is His love for me indeed!

Believe it or not, I can read your posts two or three times and still feel freshness from it. He is speaking through you. Be blessed sister in Christ.

Thank you.