This week for me has been all about renewing my mind and allowing the Lord to change my heart towards certain things and people. I have a friend, Musekiwa Samuriwo whom I often chat to. Last week I said to him that I’d love to hear what the Lord was doing in his life but I was not prepared for the challenge that came with his testimony. Part of what Musekiwa shared was the phrase “Love first”. At first glance I assumed that he was making the point that Love should come first, above all else. But then he began to unpack ‘loving first’ in a way that is changing me in a wonderful way.
Loving first is about vulnerability and daring to open one’s self to people in spite of their attitudes towards you. It means to commit your heart to something knowing that there is no guarantee. As Christians I think we experience it this way: “We love because Christ first loved us”. He loved first, even when we were sinners and couldn’t be bothered with Him. When the truth of Loving first started to dawn on me my initial reaction was that it wasn’t fair. I challenged him about how abusive people can be and argued about how this loving first could open you up to a world of hurt.
Before he even answered me the Holy Spirit started to pour scripture upon scripture into my heart about what it cost Jesus to love first. My heart broke over His meekness described in Isaiah 42:1-3, and his humility (Philippians 2:2-11). It also struck me that when He loved us in that way he did it as a man, not counting equality with God as something to be grasped…Jesus lived on this earth as a man in right standing with God. He demonstrated love as God and in flesh for us! This kind of love is what Song of Solomon talks about, a love as strong as death…a love that many waters cannot quench! Are you feeling radically pursued yet?
That night I went home and continued to reflect on this love. In the midst of basking in His love, I started to see very clearly how cheap my love has been in comparison. I thought of how conditional my love has been of late and immediately began to defend myself; “I behaved in a funny way to them because ‘they were funny to me first’”. As the Lord started to change my heart, He reminded me that, “If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even thieves do that” (Matthew 5:46). Thinking of anyone to pursue with God’s love yet?
It’s not that this is a new concept to me (or even you). I think that somewhere along the line when you’ve been walking with the Lord a while, it is easy to forget these basic principles that He left us with. It’s so easy to get influenced by the world’s standards of justice, and ‘what’s fair’. I’d become polluted with world and this chat with my friend had become an invitation to enjoy the relief of consecration. My conversation with Musekiwa was like a real life Romans 12:2 call… “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might test and prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. This is not to say that Musekiwa meant for that to happen, but the Lord can speak in many ways, I believe.
I fully expect that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead me in this area and that the seed planted by my conversation with Musekiwa will bear good fruit as it is worked out in my life. From my side there was some repenting to be done and joyful (re)acceptance of God’s way of loving too. My encouragement to anyone reading this is twofold: let’s not stop sharing with each other what the Lord is doing in our lives. And secondly, pray over this basic instruction from God to ‘love first’…may He overwhelm you with His love as you do. Amen.