I think it gets hard for Christians because we are living in two worlds - two Kingdoms. We are used to living in one of the worlds...namely this one...so we are pretty sure about how things work here for most people. For instance...what kinds of things do human beings like to do and what gives us joy and creates memories?
OK, better yet, what in your life have given you great memories and real joy in this world? While you are thinking about it, here are some of mine --
*Teaching and helping children
*Creating various kinds of fine art
*When my book was published
*Making a difference
*Going to the mountains
*When I know I've helped
someone grow in Christ
*Going to an Emmaus weekend
*Having and caring for animals
*When I've had very close friends
*Antiquing in a little town unhurriedly
*When I recieve good news
*When someone gives me
something from their heart
I am confident that God also wants us to begin having many joyful experiences in God's world too. But, how does this happen? We can see and touch this human kingdom, but God's kingdom is not so easily seen or touched. Yes, there is a way! But how?
Well, as you know, there were obstacles that kept us out of the Kingdom of God before Christ. The law made it about impossible to experience the joys of living in God's kingdom, because of our own inabilities to meet the requirements of the law.
But now, because of Christ we have a clear path to God and full access to His kingdom...even tho we have not experienced the physical heaven yet, the kingdom of God is within us.
So, now isn't it time to begin thinking about what memorable and joyful things there are to do here in God's kingdom? It IS as real as this world, yes!? God wants to help us add many experiences to our list!
Ok, then....how does this happen?
Romans 1 :17 "This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "The righteous shall live by faith"
In God's kingdom anything and everything is done by faith...
Here in the USA at least, it is quite normal to say excuse me when we bump into someone, as we have come to expect it will makes things ok. However, I know for me anyway, I do it by faith as well, especially if I don't know the person and how they would react to being bumped!
There are many things we automatically do at home or in our society because they are just things one does! My sister-in-law came from a country that hugging was not done very often...it is something she said that she had to get used to doing and it being done to her...and at the beginning she merely did it by faith after learning it was a typical thing to do here. Then in time it became much more natural to her...
To us, doing the things in God's Kingdom is like this...we are in a Kingdom that does things differently...so we start out at least doing things that God wants us to do merely out of faith. Out of believing that God knows what He is doing and knows how things work in His invisable Kingdom.
For instance, the primary thing God wants us to do is love. To believe what God has said about his love, and then be a part of expressing it. In whatever measure...in whatever way...where ever we are...to imitate God in this world that needs Him...and in so doing be blessed ourselves! Like a sweet perfume...when sharing it with others, one can't help but getting it on yourselves!
Galatians 5:6 "For
in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only
thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
1 Corinthians 9:23 "I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings."
God is love. He is not just a God who loves...He IS love. Love is to Him an essential part of being. This is why He commands that we love...and likewise that we emulate Him as His dear children...because He wants us to identify with Him and participate in His likeness.
He does not do this so as to put another law on us...He does so because He knows what will make us complete and give us joy!! We already know what gives us joy in this earthly world...now God wants to teach us what will bring us joy in His world. Can you trust Him?
Love is not hard or burdensome...which is why it is more than compatable with grace. It is a joy and a blessing! The Pharisees and Experts in the Law of long ago and those of today want to have some religious control and in so doing are keeping many from the knowledge of God's love and grace that would set us free -- therefore, they are misrepresenting God!
Luke 11:46 "Yes," said Jesus, "what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden."
Luke 11:52 "How terrible it will be for you experts in the Law! You have taken away the key to knowledge. You didn't go in yourselves, and you kept out those who were trying to go in."
The command to love can be likened to a loving Father who brings home some very precious and personal gifts for each of his beloved children...then commands that they not just hold onto them....but open and experience them! Live them, share them and enjoy them. Now, how would this be burdensome or difficult?? This is just like God insisting that I be blessed!
Luke 12; 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Now, sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Acts 20:35 “And I have shown you everything, that it is necessary to labor and to take care of those who are weak and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, who said, 'He who gives is more blessed than he who receives.'”
1 Cor. 9:23 "I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."
1 John 5:3 "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome".
Matthew 11:30 'Jesus said, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The command to love in not under the law. A law can be measured, therefore we can tell when a law hasn't been obeyed. But love is not and cannot be under the law -- since love cannot be measured like a rule can!
So, where ever you are in your loving efforts, is wonderful and acceptable to God!! Because when we share God's love in any measure, it has the same power to perfect God's love in us, as well as rid us of any fears we still have of condemnation. A little leaven (or love), leavens the whole lump!
Col. 1 "10This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. 11Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other. 12No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13We know that we live in him and he lives in us because he has given us his Spirit.
14We have seen and testify to the fact that the Father sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15God lives in those who declare that Jesus is the Son of God, and they live in God. 16We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God's love live in God, and God lives in them.
17God's love has reached its goal in us. So we look ahead with confidence to the day of judgment. While we are in this world, we are exactly like him [with regard to love]. 18No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn't have perfect love. 19We love because God loved us first.
20Whoever says, "I love God," but hates another believer is a liar. People who don't love other believers, whom they have seen, can't love God, whom they have not seen. 21Christ has given us this commandment: The person who loves God must also love other believers."
Living in love does so much...and most of all creates intimacy with God.
John 14:21 "Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father's love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them."