It is the glimpses He gives us of His love however, especially when we are at our weakest and our worst, that draw us into His incomprehensible embrace
Most Christians would agree that demonstrating a self-sacrificial love for others is the essence of the gospel message and the highest form of obedience we can render to the New Commandment of Jesus. Our common concept of expressing Christ’s love is typically associated with our feet through going, our hands through serving and our mouths through proclaiming. But how often do we associate His love expressed from our knees through praying?
We think of love, and rightly so, as an action or deed done specifically for the benefit of another. Jesus, our example, expressed His love throughout His earthly ministry for those He came to save. He went from village to village with His feet, He healed all who came to Him with His hands, He proclaimed the Gospel with His mouth and yes, right up to His arrest in the Garden He agonized in prayer upon His knees.
His love, referred to in the Greek as agape, is a sacrificial kind of love. It is a love that found its purest expression in Jesus laying down His life for the salvation of human kind. Our expressions of His love for others therefore will always extract a personal cost from us as well. Like all forms of agape love, the price of loving others from our knees in prayer demands a sacrifice of our time, our effort, our comfort, and personal preferences.
Such prayer, motivated by love, is what the Bible calls intercession. It can be said that intercession is agape love on its knees.
People who willingly make major positive changes in their lives share one thing in common. They have tapped into the power of motivation.
From personal experience, observation of other people’s lives and my study of scriptures I have come to this conclusion. Most defining changes in people lives can be attributed to one or more of three powerful motivations. Those motivations are love, truth and pain. They provide the primary tipping points for life change.
Three of the most radical changes in my life can each be attributed to one of these three motivations. Giving up a carefree single life to pursue the heart of my now wife of forty years was motivated by love – a love that began with a first sight meeting at the top of a stairs. Surrendering my life and future to the Lordship of Jesus Christ was motivated by truth that I discovered in studying the Bible – revealing that He was indeed the Son of God. And moving on to a new career would never have happened if I had not been so engulfed in the pain and frustration of a dead end job. Nothing motivates like being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
One of the great benefits of being a pastor is that over the years I have had the privilege of seeing God radically change the lives of many people. The before and after snapshots are stunning, particularly of those whose former selves were marked by addictions and destructive behavior. Interestingly enough, each person’s testimony almost always can be traced to an initial motivation to change and embrace Christ because of an encounter with God’s unfailing love, an undeniable truth or an unrelenting pain.
To test this theory, think about your own life and the significant changes you have made for the better. What brought you to a tipping point of change? What motivated you to take radical steps to give up the old in order to embrace the new?
The Gospels provide us many examples of how God uses love, truth and pain to motivate people to make major changes in their lives.