'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
Now we have ascended and built to the ultimate height. We have reached the apex. All should be ready for the construction of the capstone of the grand pyramid of Godly character! The capstone is perhaps the most talked about, the most used, misused, abused , and misunderstood of all character traits! It is often portrayed and practiced in the most vulgar, demeaning and evil contexts. It is almost incomprehensible, that this highest of all qualities of God’s nature is co-mingled with such evil and degrading situations, and defined in such base emotions, human experience and conduct.
There are few concepts about which there is greater confusion than the concept elicited by the word "LOVE"! To understate the situation, there is GREAT CONFUSION! Much of the confusion, at least theologically speaking, results from the fact that there are several words for love used in the Bible, each referring to a different concept, but translated "love". So there is much room for misuse. Rather than delve into meanings of words (in which doing there can be danger: 2 Timothy 2:14-15), we will go direct to what is meant by the word here in 2 Peter 1:7.
A short definition is: to seek by thought, word, and action the highest and ultimate good for everyone and all things, at all times, and without variation. As can be seen right away, this love is therefore sacrificial. Humanly speaking, self never enters into the equation of this kind of love! As you can see, we are already far out into left field, so to speak, as far is the bulk of humanity is concerned. This is absurd. This is illogical. This is impractical. This is INSANITY! How could anyone believe, endorse, or even desire such love! Perhaps it sounds "nice" to talk about, or - as is more often the case - it is claimed to be in possession when it is not (this love can be, and is, easily counterfeited). It is something most everyone would like done to them, but which they would not desire to do themselves, and yet they would like to be thought of as having and doing themselves! No wonder there is such confusion! Many would confess that THIS love is a "hard saying" beyond compare. But even so, this comprehensive description of love is far from adequate - it must be defined more and exalted even higher. This love is THE REASON FOR ALL THE OTHER FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHARACTER PYRAMID. This is the CAPSTONE!
We can feel that we have arrived at, and matured in Christ according to the broad definition above. And, there are some who have - by the Holy Spirit the work of grace in their hearts has brought them to the top of the pyramid. But they lack something else - something that is at the center of the heart of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
All that can be construed as part of this character quality of God covered above MUST BE EXTENDED AND EXERCISED TOWARD OUR ENEMIES. We must extend all to our enemies that we would extend to ourselves. While we were the enemy of God, He loved us to death - on a cross (Romans 5:8)!
This is perhaps the MOST difficult element of the love of God for the Christian to build and especially to live out. It is ONLY by the grace of God that it can be actually practiced. Too contemplate our enemy is difficult enough, but to love them? This is the point at which all other claims, considerations, and philosophical justifications will break down unless we "go on to perfection" in Christ Jesus - to the very tip of the top of the Capstone. Jesus commanded us to "love" (same meaning as given above) our enemies (Matthew 5:44)! This love cannot be lived out humanly (Romans 5:5). The Apostle Paul affirmed that for a good person some might lay down their life. This has occurred often in war and other crisis situations. But to love an enemy as a constant, steady offering of LIVING sacrifice - this is the construction which WE cannot complete. We cannot finish the pyramid. We have built up as far as we can go, even with the graces with which God has enabled to use as a co-worker with Him. He must finish it.
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-21; Psalm 118:22-24).
The capacity to love our enemies in this quality can only be accomplished by Jesus Christ living in us and imparting to us the ability to do it! It is totally unnatural. It is, quiet simply, DIVINE! This is the apex, the Capstone of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4)! All of the previous foundational qualities of character can and are built in us with our effort and cooperation with the power of Jesus Christ working in us in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). But the love of God that loves enemies is mostly a GIFT made available be the grace of Jesus in dying on the cross. Only He loves His enemies perfectly. Only He can cause us to love our enemies in the love of God. This is perfectly logical. God IS LOVE. That is much different from HAVING "love". We can have love, but we ARE NOT love - yet! We can make sacrifices in many ways and situations - and we are to be "a living sacrifice" in all things pertaining to life and Godliness (Romans 12:1). This includes our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).
We have been - and still are I pray - building an edifice of character, in the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are developing a new nature - a completely new creation is being molded by Christ living in us, and we in Him and the Father, and they both in us (John 17:20-21). A working blueprint of this Capstone of love is 1 Corinthians 13 - this is love in action. Nothing - NOTHING! - in the heavenly spiritual realm is as great as this love (v.13). When God brought Israel out of iron furnace of Egypt, for forty years their plight pleaded for the creation of these works of grace so that they might obey, although even then they were the recipients of God’s grace. They could not even begin to build by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit working in power through their weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9; Deuteronomy 12:9). Obedience is slavery, without love - love is slavery, without God...
Thank God - we can.
This is the love that will fulfill the law - not cancel it (Romans 13:10) It never ends - because it is God - and God never ends. This love is the ultimate in all things. All things are ultimately of God (Romans 11:36;1 Corinthians 8:6). It is the answer to all problems, questions, doubts, fears, anxieties. This love fills all in all (1 John 4:7-20). The love of God is intense, unwavering ("no shadow of turning"), fervent, quiet and peaceful, yet powerful, brooding and yet just, never falters - it "abides" always and forever. We can love this way, if God is a part of us. God is producing (not reproducing) Himself in us, so that in us there will be more of Himself for His glory. It is all made possible by Jesus Christ - we would not be, if Jesus had not been. None of us in this world now has, as mentioned above, completed our pyramid. But we must continue strengthening and improving the quality of our building. Our capstone is already in place, but not yet - it is complete now, IN JESUS CHRIST, as we are in Him. We are already considered "complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10), but the culmination of it all awaits our change to immortality. This will come at the resurrection or at our change to immortal (Hebrews 12:23). Either way, we are assured of this immortal love if we endure (2 Peter 1:10).
Finally, our character will have been made perfect. We will be totally infused by God’s "divine nature" Love embodies all the grace of God so that in immortality, we shall finally be - LOVE.
Until that glorious day, may we all endure unto love - Amen
"So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed. [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’" - 1 Peter 1:13-16 (AmpBible)
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