Let love and mercy be the starting point of everything I do.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ― 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks in depth about the spiritual gifts that we use to serve in the church and for the common good of humanity –
wisdom, knowledge, and faith
prophecy, miraculous powers, and discernment of spirits,
discernment of spirits,
languages and interpretation of languages
Each of these is given by the Holy Spirit and each is needed for the Church to carry out its purpose. All are good, all are important, and all are essential. However, at the end of chapter 12 Paul reminds us that the love (agape) poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) is the most excellent way– more foundational that all the spiritual gifts we have been given.
The New Testament writers understood love to be the foundation and fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10, Gal 5:14, James 2:8). In the same way, these spiritual gifts, given by the Holy Spirit to each member of the church (1 Cor 12:17) must be built upon a foundation of agape love. If not, they are of no good use.
I can speak every language, known and unknown…but if I do not have agape love for God and neighbor, my words are nothing more than white noise in a busy, distracted world (1 Cor 13:1),
I can prophecy, understand the mysteries of the universe, have unsurpassed knowledge, and even have the faith to move literal mountains…but if I do have agape love for God and neighbor, I am nothing; it’s all meaningless and empty (1 Cor 13:2).
I can give everything I own to help the poor and those in need. I can be willing to suffer hardship, pain, and persecution…but if do not have agape love for God and neighbor, then I gain nothing; it’s all for naught (1 Cor 13:3).
Love is not one among many laws given by the Father, not one among many gifts of the Spirit, and not one among many visible marks of the Christlike life.
Love is the law. Love is the gift. Love is the Christlike life.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. ― 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.
― 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
The magnificent diversity of the created world is mind-boggling! From the smallest ant to the largest elephant, the most delicate flowers to the fortress-like Redwoods, the sweetest strawberry to the sourest lime, not to mention the incredible diversity of humanity. The artwork of God truly is amazing!
Perhaps most amazing is the fact that all of this diversity is coded into the world with DNA, a molecule found inside every living organism, and consisting of only four molecules – adenine (A), cytostine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). All of that diversity and creativity of God is found in these four simply molecules that become the building blocks of the limitless diversity we see in the world!
“We have the DNA of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ― Herschel Walker
When we put our trust in Christ we become a “new creation,” with new kingdom DNA! Our thoughts, words, and actions are constructed with new building blocks – love, mercy, justice, truth, grace, peace, and blessing – and, like the natural creation, are seen an expressed in limitless variations in every place, every situation, and everyone!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… ― Romans 12:2 (NIV)
When we become new creations in Christ we experience the transformation of our hearts and minds. Some of this happens quickly, while other parts of it will take a lifetime of growth. What is important is growth in Christlikness. We are not the same. We don’t think the same. We don’t speak the same. We don’t live the same.
Over the next few days we’ll be exploring these building block of kingdom DNA. Today, take a moment to thank God for the transforming work of the Spirit in your life, and begin praying that love, mercy, justice, truth, grace, peace, and blessing would more and more become the building blocks of your life!
Let your kingdom rule in my body, my relationships, and my world.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. ― Luke 11:2
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the first request is “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God – the jurisdiction, domain, or administration – is found where God’s will is being done, the purpose and mission of God is being carried out, and the name of God is holy, sacred, and honored.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” ― John 3:3 (NIV)
God’s kingdom is not physical kingdom. There are no geographic borders; no nation in the world is interchangeable with the kingdom of God. The border of this kingdom are found in the heart and soul of those who have been born again. Citizenship in the nation of God comes by faith and is seen only by those who have surrendered themselves to the rule and reign of God in their lives.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,… ― Colossians 1:13 (NIV)
When John wrote that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16b), he was referencing a rescue operation that takes place when puts their hope and trust in Christ – a rescue from domain of darkness and sin to the city of hope, peace, salvation, and new life. In Christ we are new people with new priorities and new purpose. All of this newness shines on our:
Personal lives : the way we live — our habits, routines, time, and money;
Relationships : the way we relate with people – family, friends, and the people with whom we engage and interact regularly;
The World : the way in which we engage the people in our world, locally an globally, particularly of different faith, priorities, and ways of living.
Our citizenship in God’s kingdom touches every part of our life. As we learn and grow in Christ the right and responsibilities of this citizenship – love and mercy, justice and truth, and grace and peace, will become increasingly evident in all we do.