Love. Live. Preach. Teach.—Live Him, Part 1

October 25, 2011

by Peter Amsterdam

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In the last article we covered the first element of being a disciple: Love Him. In this one we move on to the second element: Live Him.

Part of the definition of a disciple is someone who strongly believes in the teachings of a leader, a philosophy, or a religion, and tries to act according to them.

The New Testament backs up this definition:

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.[1]

Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.[2]

Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.[3]

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.[4]

When Jesus, in humility, knelt before His disciples and washed their feet, He said:

I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.[5]

A disciple is a doer, someone who takes on the attitudes of Christ, who follows His example, who walks as Jesus did. In this case the word “walk” means to live, to regulate one’s life, to conduct oneself. So when we walk the same way in which He walked, we are conducting ourselves as Jesus did. We are applying the principles of His words and actions in our lives.

Jesus, God the Son, took on humanity and lived the life of a human being, and did so perfectly, without sin. As it says in the book of Colossians, He is the image of the invisible God.[6] For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.[7] And in Philippians: He, being in very nature God, took on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.[8]

His earth life was the image or picture or example of God living a human life. It was the fullness of God incarnate. What better example to pattern our lives after, what better role model could there be, what better guiding principles of how to live could exist, than those of the Incarnate God?—God in human flesh!

So what are the principles of living Him? The following are those that have stood out to me when meditating on the matter. To describe each of these principles, I am mainly using Bible verses from the four Gospels, where Jesus was specifically speaking to His disciples.

The Abiding Principle

The night before Jesus’ death, He spoke to His disciples about the need to abide in Him and the benefits of doing so. The word abide comes from the Greek word meno (pronounced men-oh). Some of the definitions of this word are to be held, kept continually, to remain, to continue to be present.

In John chapter 15, Jesus was expressing the importance of disciples keeping a close connection with Him, that doing so will cause them to bear fruit, and that not remaining close to Him will make fruit-bearing impossible. Disciples are meant to bear fruit, and when they do, it glorifies God. Yet fruit-bearing can’t be done without abiding in Him.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.[9]

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.[10]

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.[11]

Once again Jesus makes the connection between loving Him and keeping His commandments. He goes on to express the blessings that come with abiding in Him, that His joy will remain in you and that you will be full of joy. He also states that He will live within those who love Him and obey His teachings.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.[12]

If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home [abode] with him.[13]

The Abiding Principle represents the continuous nurturing of an enduring relationship with Jesus.

Jesus said to abide in Him, to abide in His love, to have His words abide in you; all of these point toward our continually remaining in Him and His words remaining in us. It’s emphasizing the importance our connection with Him plays in our lives, that without it we can’t bear fruit; with it, we will not only be fruit-bearing, but we will also have His joy in us.

This principle—“abide in Me and I in you”—is the basis of our spiritual life, our relationship to God. The Abiding Principle includes the time you spend reading God’s Word and other things that keep you connected to Him and deepen your relationship to God. It’s the communion and fellowship you have with Jesus, the time in prayer and praise, time spent listening to Him. It’s the principle that staying connected to God is vital to being a disciple. It connects with the Love Him principle, because if you love someone, you want to spend time with them. As disciples we love Jesus, and thus will want to spend time with Him.

The Love Principle

There are four words used in classical Greek for love: storge, which means natural affection (such as that of a parent for a child); philos, which means friendship or brotherly love; eros, which means sensual or passionate love; and agape, which isused in the New Testament to designate the unmerited love God showed to humankind in sending His Son as the Redeemer.

When speaking of human love in the New Testament, agape means selfless and self-giving love. Various dictionaries define it as unconditional love, non-sexual love, love that is wholly selfless and spiritual, and in relation to Christianity as selfless love felt by Christians for their fellow human beings. It can be understood to mean the kind of love that causes you to reach out and do good to others, to love your brethren, and put the needs of others before your own; the kind of love that helps you to live in unity and harmony with your brethren.

So when Jesus talks about loving others, He’s talking about selfless love, the kind where you give to another not expecting something in return, when you are a conduit of God’s love.—The kind of love that forgives when people have sinned against you or hurt you, the kind where you go out of your way to help someone when it costs you and it might not be appreciated the way you think it should be. That’s the kind of love that Jesus is speaking of when He says:

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 shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.[14]

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.[15]

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.[16]

These things I command you, that you love one another.[17]

Though I said I was quoting from the direct words of Jesus on this topic, I want to also include some very pertinent and important verses from 1st and 2nd John about the love we should have for our brothers and sisters—meaning those that you fellowship and work with, including those you may not get along with so well, and other Christians.

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.[18]

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.[19]

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.[20]

If anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?[21]

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.[22]

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.[23]

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.[24]

Powerful verses!—Especially when you personally apply the principles when responding to and interacting with those who may have hurt or offended you, who didn’t keep their word, or who spoke negatively about you. The love Jesus is speaking about is love which is unmerited, love which forgives, selfless love which is rooted in the principles of His Word. Loving your brethren is a key element of discipleship.

The Unity Principle

Just hours before He was arrested, Jesus prayed to His Father that the disciples—both those who were with Him right then and all who would follow—would be in unity as He and His Father are in unity.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.[25]

Jesus prayed that all His disciples—the ones with Him then, and those to come—would be one: one in body, knit together in love; one in belief, in motivation; one in mission, in Christ-mindedness. It’s not possible that all disciples are like-minded in all things, but in matters of faith, of love, of service, of reaching the world with the Gospel, in those things which make them disciples, Jesus is praying for oneness among them.

When we are united in Him, when we are together in Him, He is there with us.

Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.[26]

Having Christ in our midst through our unity helps others to feel His presence. They feel the warmth, the joy, the love, and it interests them and attracts them to Him. It’s part of the witness and testimony of disciples.

(In the next article we will continue with further principles which are important to our discipleship as we Live Him.)

[1] James 1:22.

[2] 1 John 3:18.

[3] 1 John 2:6.

[4] Philippians 2:5 NIV.

[5] John 13:15.

[6] Colossians 1:15.

[7] Colossians 1:19.

[8] Philippians 2:6–7 NIV.

[9] John 15:8 NKJ.

[10] John 15:4.

[11] John 15:5.

[12] John 15:9–11 NKJ.

[13] John 14:23 NIV.

[14] John 13:34–35 ESV/KJV.

[15] John 15:12.

[16] John 15:13.

[17] John 15:17 NKJ.

[18] 1 John 3:10–11.

[19] 1 John 3:14 NAU.

[20] 1 John 3:16.

[21] 1 John 3:17.

[22] 1 John 3:23.

[23] 1 John 4:11–12.

[24] 1 John 4:20–21.

[25] John 17:20–23.

[26] Matthew 18:20 KJV.