Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (13)
The better we know Jesus, the more we will love as He loves.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13.8-10
To know and love is to be transformed
As we increase in the knowledge of Jesus – by all the many and varied means He has provided – we will come to see Him more truly, in all His majesty and might, greatness and glory, wisdom and wonder, compassion and caring, goodness and grace. Seeing Him thus, we will grow in love for Him, which we will express, first of all, as worship in every aspect of our lives. We will offer ourselves to Him more completely and more consistently, so that worship becomes the way of life that issues from the intimacy we enjoy with the Lord.
As Jonathan Edwards pointed out in many of his writings, such a growing love for Jesus cannot help but overflow in love for the people around us. Because seeing Jesus, knowing Jesus, and being with Jesus is a transforming experience. Like Moses, descending Mt. Sinai, his face – unbeknownst to him – glowing with the glory of God, so we will be fulgent with the reality of Jesus, as He increases in us, and our old, sinful selves decrease more and more.
For to know Jesus is to love Him, and to love Him is to be transformed by Him, so that we are continuously renewed in Him and His love, and His Spirit overflows from us, like spilled vessels of grace, to refresh the people we see each day (2 Cor. 4.7; Jn. 7.37-39).
And as we see this happening in us, we’ll know that we are truly growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To be like Jesus
We will be more like Jesus, and so we will relate to the people around us more in the way that Jesus did. This will take some predictable forms.
First, Jesus took the initiative with people, seeking them by the seaside, under a fig tree, in a sycamore tree, beside a Samaritan well, and in a tomb outside the city of Bethany. He reached out to others – to get to know them, to call them into a relationship with Himself, and to impart the grace and truth of God to them by His life and words.
Like Jesus, we will want to grow as seekers of the people around us, reaching out to get to know them, and to begin letting them get to know us – and Jesus, Who is in us.
We do not seek people for our ends, but that we might show them the love of Jesus and serve them by our words and deeds. Jesus demonstrated this calling to be a servant of others when He washed the disciples’ feet. He saw the need, made the necessary preparations, took the initiative, and carried the task through to completion. Then He told us that we must follow His example and be servants to one another.
As we reach out to the people in our Personal Mission Field, therefore, let’s be attentive to ways – large and small – that we might encourage and bless them by our example, by our words, and by good works.
But this is just the beginning of a relationship of grace. As we get to know the people we’re reaching out to, we must take on the role of shepherd with them, as Jesus did with His disciples. This means caring for the souls and spiritual wellbeing of others, encouraging them in the Word and prayer, affirming evidence of growth that we see in them, helping them to take up their calling from the Lord, sharing resources and insights with them, and praying with and for them that they might enter fully into the joy of their Kingdom-and-glory calling.
As part of our work as shepherds, we’ll want to bring the Scriptures into our relationship as often as we can. We are called to be sowers of God’s Word, as Jesus was, to help people discern the will of God and to grow in Him and His calling for them. We can do this by sharing from our own time with the Lord, joining with others to study Scripture, talking about sermons and books, and by many other means. We must keep the Word of God central to our relationships, as much as we can, because then Jesus will be central to them as well.
And we must be good stewards, like Jesus, doing the will of God in everything, that others might know His grace and truth through us.
These are roles that Jesus fulfilled during His earthly sojourn. It is reasonable to expect that, as we increase in the knowledge of our glorious Lord, we will take on and improve in these roles as well. Thus we will be able to show the love of Jesus to the people around us by emulating the roles He would be carrying out among them if He were still with us in the flesh.
He must increase
Paul said that Jesus is working to fill the world with Himself (Eph. 4.7-10). He is doing that, first of all, in everyone who believes in Him, and who has taken up His challenge to follow Him, learn of Him, and be His witnesses in the world.
As we grow in the knowledge of Jesus, we will want to show Him to the people around us. What we will show them is the love of Jesus as we seek, serve, shepherd, sow God’s Word, and do God’s will at every opportunity, in every situation, for the praise of Jesus and the glory of God.
Loving our neighbors as Jesus did is both the goal of all our learning, and the evidence that we are increasing in Jesus, and Jesus is increasing in us.
1. What are some ways that we can follow Jesus by seeking others as He did?
2. We are sent, like Jesus was, to serve and shepherd the people in our Personal Mission Field. How do you need to improve in this?
3. What are some ways you can sow God’s Word and do God’s will more consistently with the people in your Personal Mission Field?
Next Steps – Preparation: How would you rate yourself (say, 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating) in each of these five roles – seeker, servant, shepherd, sower, steward. What is one thing you can do to improve in each of these roles?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.