Perfected love: a challenge to the Canadian Church
July 7, 2021
This Prayer Letter contains a prayer focus for the month of July. The GHPL will return in August.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (Jn 13:34). Most of us are very familiar with Jesus’ commands to love: love God, love each other, love your neighbor as yourself, love (i.e., forgive) those who have wronged you, love your enemy. No one is excluded from those we must love. I read these scriptures. I pray them. Some, I have memorized. I make a conscious effort to practice love. I repent for not loving enough. I do my best, but my best is not enough. No one’s best can ever measure up to God’s standard. His standard for His disciples is to love “just as I have loved you.” It seems impossible, but He wouldn’t command us to do what isn’t possible. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).
Of course, that’s the key – with God. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech 4:6). This is another very familiar, often quoted, verse. The context is fascinating. It was spoken by the prophet Zechariah about Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin, the King of Judah who was taken into exile in Babylon. Zerubbabel’s name means “offspring of Babylon”, surely an ironic name for the Jewish exile who would be appointed Governor of Judah and would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This “second temple” would be expanded first by the Hasmoneans and later by Herod. In that temple, the child Jesus would be consecrated to the Lord, according to the custom of the law (Lk 2:22-24), some 500 years later!
Here is a bit more context: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zech 4:6-7). The word of the Lord declared it would be built, and by His Spirit, the mountain of opposition Zerubbabel faced was rendered impotent. By God’s grace it was completed. Even so, Jesus declared to His disciples that not one stone of this temple made by human hands would be left upon another, but that He would raise up the temple of His body and that He would build His church (Mt 24:2, Jn 2:19-22, Mt 16:16-18, Ac 7:48-49). We are the living stones of this temple of which Jesus is the capstone (1 Pe 2:4-7).
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth;
it shall not return to Me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isa 55:10-11)
This is how Jesus plans to build us into His dwelling place on earth: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35). We are to be the signposts to “all people” of His sacrificial love. We can only accomplish this by His Spirit.
During July, could we the church in Canada…
- Confess our deficiency of love for one another.
- Release judgments against others that have caused our hearts to harden. Release the need to be right.
- Forgive others whom we believe have wronged us.
- Pray to bless, not curse, believers we’ve disagreed with about anything. Anything!
- Acknowledge we need Holy Spirit revelation and transformation to help us love like Jesus so we can be one as He and the Father are one (Jn 17:20-26).
Let’s together desire perfected love. The mountain of Islamic resistance to the Gospel will be impotent in the face of love’s power. When Jesus is revealed as the capstone, we will shout together, “Grace, grace to it!”
*USDA photo by Lance Cheung