Do you remember anything from geometry class? Do you remember the phrase if / then statements? The basic idea in an if / then statement is that when the information following the “if” statement is true, what follows the “then” statement should also be true. For example, “If a=b, then b=a.”
Relate this to living life in Christ. My if / then statement is “If God’s Word is working in me, then my life will be changed to reflect Christ.” This became reality to me recently when I saw the result of God’s Word working change in me – not the result of all my working to change. It took place, little by little, as I continued dwelling in what the Bible reveals of His amazing love. At some point, without my notice, His love overtook my limited human love, and began flowing more freely through me. It was simply God’s Word of love working in me, and it changed my life to reflect Christ more.
I have not come close to completing this course, so I continue to fill up on His Word and His love. I find, however, that I think about others differently now. Because of His Word working in me, when the old thoughts about people show up, I realign my thinking with my Father’s thoughts towards them. Thinking His thoughts changes my words about them. With His thoughts and words, my actions are also changed, and I’m likely to go out of my way for someone I’d have ignored before. Isn’t this what Jesus did when He walked on this earth? It was because He dwelled in the Word of God, which allowed the Word to work in and through Him as a man.
1 John 2:6 AMP Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.
It all comes back to that if / then statement. If we truly abide in God’s love (for us and others), then Christ will be seen in our lives. The opposite is also true. If there is no difference in our lives (in our thoughts, words, or actions), then we must not be abiding in the agape love of God. If we remain self-centered, judgmental, critical, etc., we do not really know (do not abide in) the reality of God’s love. God’s love is a life-changer. Living in God’s love equals a life radically changed. No radical life change equals not living in God’s love.
Ephesians 3:17-19 AMP 17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 18 that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 19 [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
We can never change ourselves to look like Jesus, no matter how hard we try, but God’s Word will change us as we simply dwell in Him. Likewise, we can never love with His perfect love by our efforts. Since, however, His love was already poured into our hearts when we were born again (Rom. 5:5), if we dwell in Christ’s love, then the love of Christ will be reflected in us.