There is a lot of talk today about boundaries, toxic relationships, and narcissisms. Although these subjects are valid in some respects, the prevalence of their frequency in social discussions has somewhat created a stigma against relationships in general. Let me preface what I’m going to say with – I don’t believe anyone should helplessly remain in an extremely abusive situation; however, there is such suspicion toward one another that we often assume the worst. This has resulted in offense, bitterness, rejection, broken marriages, estranged family members, church splits, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, self-preservation has become commonplace in the church – Jesus’ own body. Let’s listen to the heart of Jesus in this scripture:
“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” – John 10:18 NLT.
As Jesus when about His life and ministry, He continually kept His eyes on the Father, watching what He was doing, listening to what He was saying. The Father sent Jesus to accomplish the mission of redemption. The pleasure of fulfilling His Father’s will was the “joy set before Him!” Even in his preparation for that sacrifice, Jesus affirmed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
John, The Beloved, so beautifully showed us the heart of the Father in 1 John chapter 4:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love . . . We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” – 1 John 4: 7-8, 16-17 NLT.
Jesus also taught us practically how to look like the Father in Mathew chapter 5:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – Matthew 5:43-48 MSG.
Wow! Are you hearing the heart of the Father through Jesus?
As ambassadors of reconciliation, we are to make every effort toward unity. When self-preservation is our default, we miss the joy of giving our lives away to others. Jesus said,
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24 NKJV.
We can get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget, as sons of God, we are to lay our lives down for others. This doesn’t look like self-preservation at all. This looks like Jesus. We are not victims! We are streams of living water! If we stay “tapped in” to our Source (like Jesus did), we can live as life-giving spirits with no fear of man – because “prefect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:18 NKJV. This is the evidence we belong to the Father. So, let’s drop our defenses and pursue one another in love.