The Love of Jesus--What It Is--None But His Loved Ones Know
True saints know Christ's love gratefully and thankfully, having experienced it. O dear Friends! Let me refresh your memories and tell you what you do know, rather than attempt to say anything which might be new to you. Do you remember the place, the spot of ground where Jesus met with you? Some of us do. Oh, that day of days! That first day of our spiritual life! Other days have lost their freshness in our recollection, but this one is like a coin newly minted from time, though it is years ago with some of us. Oh, that day! That marriage day! That feast day! That day of Heaven on earth! Our soul was burdened and bowed down to the very dust, and we thought we should soon descend into the pit where despair would be our portion forever. But as we went mourning on our way, we heard a voice saying to us— "Come here soul, I am the way."
Oh, do you remember when you looked unto Him and when you came to trust Him—just as you were—with your soul? You had been learning about Christ, perhaps, for years. You had been taught about Him. You had got some knowledge of Him and some desire towards Him. But did you not learn more of Christ in one five minutes then, than you could have learned in a whole course of college education in theology, in years before?
And since that time, dear Friends, have we not learned Christ's love thankfully to a very high degree? Day after day He comes to us. Night after night He draws the curtains of our bed. He is ever with us and all that He has is ours. He talks sweetly to us by the way, and He sits down by us in our afflictions and comforts us, and makes our hearts to burn within us. And as we think of all that He has done for us, we feel we do know something of Him, for gratitude has been our schoolmaster.
Let me share my witness that my Lord and Master improves upon acquaintance. The more I know of Him, the more I wish to know. And I think I do but speak the mind of all the Lord's people when I declare that instead of having less love to Him, the more I experience of His favor, the more warm is my heart towards Him.
The true children of God know Christ's love in a way which I can only describe by the word practically. If any man would know His doctrine, let him keep His commandments. You know if a man is to be taught to swim, you could not teach him in Surrey Chapel. You might get the most skillful master in the world who should come and explain the way in which he should spread his hands and move his feet, but he never can be taught to swim on dry land. And we cannot make Christians know Christ except by imitating Christ and by obeying Christ.
Just so, if we would learn Christ, we must be practically engaged in His service. We must learn His love by keeping His Commandments. You may sit in these pews and be preached to every Sunday. You may hear God's Truth plainly and simply unfolded. But if you want to learn, and learn in such a way that you never will forget, it is the back streets that must teach you, the lodging houses, the haunts of poverty, and the dens of vice. If any man would know the love of Christ, let him go where Christ went and to the place where a Savior is needed. Let him carry Christ's light to give light to others, and it shall enlighten himself. Let him go forth to water other men's vineyards, and his own soul shall be watered, also. Whatever his Master bids him do, let him do it, and he shall learn his Master's will while he is doing his Master's will. But when men, at the very outset, make a profession of religion and then disobey Christ—when they refuse to keep His Commandments—when they say of this one, "It is non-essential." And of the next, "It is unnecessary." And when they say of some duty, "Well, I can leave that to others." And of some sphere of action for which they are especially adapted, "I need not attend to that. Others can do that quite as well"—when men, I say, enlist into Christ's army and begin at once to refuse to march as they are told, and decline to go out to battle when the Captain gives them the command—it is a sure sign that they never will learn much of their Master, their Captain and their Lord.
So, if a man would know the love of Christ, he must lay himself out to discover the deformity of sin, and the awful degradation into which crime casts mankind. And then he will know that love which stoops from the highest Heaven, reaches down to the gates of the deepest Hell, thrusts its arms up to the very elbows in the mire to pull these accursed ones out of the pit of distraction and make them blessed forever among the shining ones before the Truth of God. Strict and practical obedience to the Master's commands gives an amount of knowledge which is not to be attained by sentiments of gratitude, much less by systems of doctrine. This is a higher stage of Divine Grace, though not much higher. Yet, I would to God that more of us had even got here, for I fear there are many who have a name to live but who do not obey Christ.
There is a way, not known to many moderns, but much practiced by the ancients, of knowing the love of Christ by contemplation. Do you know that in the early ages of the Church they spoke more of Christ and of His Person, and thought more of Him than we do? To them He was a real Person, whom the eye of their faith could see as clearly as the eye of sense can see outward objects. They looked, and looked, and looked again, till the love of Christ grew brighter to them than the sun at his meridian, and for very dimness of mortal sight they veiled their faces and paused their speech—while their souls were bathed in inward joy and peace unspeakable. There have been some such in these later times but not many.
Now, I think that contemplating Christ winds up the soul and puts it into a right frame, so that when we come back we can do more for the Master than we ever did before.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible