April 12th - Heavens above
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:11-12 (NKJV)
As we gaze at the night sky we are seeing the twinkling lights of some stars that no longer exist. It takes time, even when traveling at the speed of light, for the light of those doomed stars to travel across the expanse of the universe and to be seen by human eyes. It helps put into perspective the incredible enormity of the universe which seems to be endless, and according to many scientists is still in the process of expanding. For all practical, knowable purposes, this means that the heavens that are above the earth have no end. They extend forever.
This expansion with no end is what the Psalmist David compared to the lovingkindness of God. (I prefer the translations that use "lovingkindness" as opposed to "mercy.") There is no "knowable" end to the lovingkindness of God towards those who fear Him--who love Him--who belong to Him! His love literally fills the universe and spills beyond time and space. This is the essence of Agape. It is love without end...love that never fails...love that never reaches the end of its capacity.
Years ago I went to a seminar at Idaho State University where Josh McDowell contrasted God's Agape love to the general conditional love that is so common to mankind. He called the conditional love of man, "Love if..." and "Love because..." "Love if" causes us to love people "if" they live up to our expectations. "Love because" causes us to love only when certain conditions (such as beauty or riches) exist.
Both of these human standards of love fall short of God's love that is steeped in grace, overflows with mercy, is steadfast in its patience, and ultimately does not fail! There is no question that God's love is superior--it also happens to be the kind of love that God wants to be evident in the lives of Believers!
Agape is the one sign that declares that we are the disciples of Jesus Christ. As we love one another--Believer to Believer--with the love of Christ, we become living, breathing testimonies to the reality that Christ is in us. When you apply the "As far as the heavens are above the earth" aspect to our God-given capacity to love; it means that our love will stand out in the general culture. It is rare to observe people who truly walk in a love that is patient, kind, full of mercy, forgiving, forbearing and never gives up.
Author's Note: Do "we" really want to change our world? Do "we" really want to win our world to Christ? It cannot be done without Agape. Agape love must be at the center of our community; it must be at the center of our relationships; it must be lived. Then all will know that we are the Disciples of Christ Jesus. RJD