John 13:35 – Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Recently, while travelling to my next engagement, I spoke with a number of pastors, this time allows me to connect with them, get a pulse on how they are doing and how their churches are. It’s such an enjoyable experience. These are all wonderful men who are working diligently to build great churches. Church work and leadership can be exciting and very rewarding but also can have its pitfalls. These leaders are genuinely striving to be the best they can be, but as one remarked, “there is only one perfect leader (Jesus) and then the drop off is pretty noticeable.
One of the topics we discussed was recognizing and creating the proper atmosphere within their lives and the life of their church.
An atmosphere can be defined as a surrounding or pervading mood, environment, or influence.
It got me thinking:
What type of atmosphere (mood) do our lives reflect? Do we reflect an atmosphere of faith, hope and love? How does my personal atmosphere affect others?What kind of atmosphere am I creating in my family? An atmosphere of peace and joy or stress and turmoil?What is that pervasive atmosphere within our churches? Freedom, pursuing Gods presence, demonstrating His love, or unrelenting performance, disunity, fear or negativity?Do I reflect a life that is outward and other focused or inward self focused?
Acts 3:19 states, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Peter describes how we can change our atmosphere and create times of refreshing from the Lord. When we live a repentant lifestyle or are readily willing to change our way of thinking we give the Holy Spirit room to begin to shift the atmosphere of our soul and bring refreshing to our surroundings.
Just a word of caution, the more life we experience, we must be on guard to watch how life’s hardships, trials and negative moments can grip our heart and starve out love! We can become contaminated by the world’s atmosphere or by the unrepentant sin in our lives and actually create atmospheres that are toxic to ourselves and others.
William James said, “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspect of their lives.”
True change can only come from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must allow Gods Word to renew our minds, yield to mind of Christ and be filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I believe what we would normally call the “fruit of the Spirit” is really one piece of fruit: LOVE. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the result of God’s LOVE flowing in our life. (Galatians 5:22-23) By keeping our heart fixed on one fruit it simplifies the application greatly let HIS love captivate our heart and the rest will take care of itself.
Jesus spent a great deal working with His team to develop an atmosphere of love and compassion that was expressed and demonstrated wherever they went. When people came into contact with Jesus the atmosphere changed, people felt accepted, loved and were readily willing to change to HIS atmosphere.
I was challenged by these conversations to allow a deeper LOVE to be developed, reflected and demonstrated in my life. We need to get back to displaying the LOVE of God towards everyone we meet. Gods Word continually reminds us to love one another. 1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us continue to loveone another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
Did you notice where the love came from? LOVE comes from GOD! Without Gods help we can’t truly love properly! Without HIS deep work in our lives we will continue to create weak and pale atmospheres compared to those marked by HIS LOVE. We need to remind one another of our need to keep LOVE central in every aspect of our dealings with people. LOVE is so crucial to everything we do, everything we say, everything we value and everything we are!
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 states: If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable Love keeps no record of being wronged. Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, Love never loses faith Love is always hopeful Love endures through every circumstance.
Without Gods love, central to who we are, we cannot affect the people we interact with in a significant God way. We may have great wisdom, revelations, have tremendous faith and are the most giving person but without love we are making noise, we are nothing and have gained nothing according to God. We only add to the already contaminated atmosphere around us. However, when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives deeply, God’s unconditional love, a love of sacrifice, a love that transcends and a love that serves regardless of circumstances we will make incredible inroads in the lives of people and shift atmospheres.
C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves used agape (love) to describe what he believed was the highest level of love known to humanity – a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other.
I would like to encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to develop, carry and dispense the atmosphere of Gods LOVE in your life, homes and churches. One that is a passionate LOVE, committed to one another regardless how we feel about a person or circumstance. A LOVE for people that will GROW and OVERFLOW!
1 Thessalonians 3:12 – And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.