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  • Eric Marshburn

December 2023

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

Though many 21st-century Christians are drawn towards the BIG and sparkly manifestations of church, history tells us that the followers of Jesus displaced the Empire of Rome and ushered it to the human kingdom graveyard through the simple power of AGAPE (unconditional, Christ-empowered) LOVE. The Church, which quietly and without violence ushered The Roman Empire to the appendix of history books, did so through the uncelebrated, unselfish acts of individuals who never made it into the pages of a history book. They invested their day-to-day, non-glittering selves in the adventure of following Jesus.

Through the transforming power of Jesus’ self-giving love, these early followers literally changed the course of human history. Their power was visible in the extravagant love they expressed towards strangers, the sick, the homeless, the hungry, the lonely, and those who were hopeless. It was visible as well in their love for one another.

This isn’t what we typically think of as power. It was/is manifest by the followers of Jesus like quiet, delicate snowflakes. Individually, they don’t seem very imposing. Each is different in some way from all the others. Yet, fit together, layer upon layer, they hold the potential to rearrange the landscape. These unassuming, unnamed persons ushered out one kingdom by participating in a Kingdom which preceded them and has no end… It begs questions of each of us: What is the defining mark of those who embrace God’s kingdom? What kingdom will I give my allegiance to TODAY? Not the kind of allegiance which manifests with my hand over my heart, or through my words, or songs, or even by my vote, but with my arms and my heart wide open – You know – with my hands and feet and eyes and ears, my sweat and tears… just like Jesus.

Charles Wesley once described his vision of this power in a poem.

Come, our Holy God and true! Come and my whole heart renew. Take me now, possess me whole. Form the Savior in my soul.

Happy soul, whose active love emulates the blessed above. In every action seen, sparkling from the soul within.

We go every sufferer nigh, hear with concern the cry of the widow in distress, of the poor and fatherless.

The weak hands we lift them up, bid the helpless mourners hope. Give to those in darkness light, guide the weary wanderer right.

Through the influence of your love, tenderness, compassion move: Love immense and unconfined, love to all of humankind.

Love, which wills that all should live. Love, which all to all would give. Love, that over all prevails. Love, that never, never fails… Selah!

By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. John 13:35

Blessings & Peace!

Pastor Eric

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