Following the heartbeat of Jesus
His face broke into a big smile as he leaned across the table and said, "God finds you fascinating." We were sitting across from each other at a small table in Starbucks. It's a public place and this conversation almost felt awkward. Beaming ear to ear he went on, "God is intrigued by you. His eye is on you…in a good way! He is watching to see what you will do next because He is fascinated with you. He is doting on you because of His great love for you."
Wow. What do you say in response? I sat there and tried to take it all in.
The start of Jesus' public ministry began with clarity about His love connection with the Father. At His baptism, Jesus heard these words, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1: 9-10). Jesus knew He was loved. When challenging situations arose, He was unshaken. He was grounded in the certainty that the sovereign God loved Him.
Jesus had heard the Father speak into His own heart and continued to receive daily reminders of God's love through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The heart of Jesus was in sync with the heartbeat of the Father; the rhythm was defined by love.
In my reading of the gospels, I am reminded of how often Jesus spent time alone with the Father. Daily He returned to hear the Father say, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." These times of intimacy with the Father were a constant reminder of the love that surrounded Him. It was this love connection that set the course for His life and ministry.
Jesus loved others out of this place of intimacy with the Father.In fact, love was the core curriculum of His little discipleship school. Every disciple was enrolled in a DTS program where being loved and learning to love was the heart of the program.Jesus loved His disciples, and in doing so, He taught them that they too, were loved by God. Their hearts began to follow the heartbeat of Jesus.
Knowing God's love was essential to following Jesus. Being with Jesus, His disciples were learning how to "fall in love with the God Jesus knows" (see James Smith, The Good and Beautiful God). What He was teaching them was central to His own life, not just a theory. He wanted God's love to be central to theirs.
Learning to know the Father's love led to the next lesson, "How to love others." Being loved, they learned to accept themselves within the circle of His love, setting them free to love others. By His example, Jesus showed them how to love in every situation they faced together. What do you do when people are demanding, difficult to love, seeking attention, obnoxious, or devious and deceptive? In every day-to-day encounter, the disciples saw first-hand what God's love looked like through His example.
What sets the rhythms of your heart? Are you "falling in love with the God Jesus knows"? Learning to love and be loved is central to following Jesus in discipleship. A love connection with the Father will set you free and allow you to love others in extravagant ways.
True discipleship is about knowing the Father's great love for us. As our heartbeat begins to match that of the Father, our capacity to love others grows. We become loving people, both in our passions and in our actions.
Imagine what the Church would be like today if every believer was a disciple who came to know the love of the Father, setting them free to love others in the way of Jesus. It's a simple idea, something God could use to turn the world upside down.
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