Posted by Mark Labuschagne on Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sixteen years ago, Andi and I were based in a local congregation (Gratefully for a very short season) and during these nine months, it was required of every cell group leader to host the communion portion of the service and on this particular Sunday, it was my turn. Although I had my own ministry at the time, I was asked to form a cell in the area we lived in, which we faithfully carried out. Most of the aspiring preachers in the congregation were men and women who seemed bent on pleasing man and seemed very afraid of putting a foot out of line, so to speak. As this particular group also ran a Bible school, many felt the need to either impress those they were ministering "in front of" and therefore made sure that their leaders did not find anything wrong with their knowledge and or interpretation of scripture.
I can remember it as if it was yesterday, I got up and spoke about Christ's love for us as this was something dear to my heart, I felt very strongly about sharing a few thoughts around this subject. Today, I remain so grateful to the Lord for the way in which He loved me first and that His love for me, remained the same despite who I was. So, I shared this with real conviction. When I finished up and handed the service back the Apostle as he was known, the first thing he said was, "Mark, always finds the easy way out". I will never forget those words, not because I hold on to them for any other reason, but that it confirmed the very thing I had spoken about. He was being very sarcastic by the mere wording he used in this statement, but it really did not matter, because that was exactly what I felt needed to be said at that particular time.
You see, I have never been one to want to impress anyone in my life, but continue to have and always had a desire to impress the Lord, my Savior and God, Jesus Christ. You see I learnt from an early age that trying to win favor with man produces short-term results, but seeking the favor of God, was both rewarding and stimulating. His favor changed my circumstances and stimulated my heart in worship towards Him. The stimulation I am talking about was motivated by the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and caused me to see Jesus for who He truly is. I can remember experiencing the love of God first hand in such a tangible way that it changed the course of my life.
One afternoon, I was 25 years old, standing in a local church building, worshiping the Lord on my own. I clearly heard the Lord ask me if I loved Him and I can remember the presence of the Lord come into that place and surround me in such an indescribable manner. I remember answering the question positively and heard the Lord place great emphasis on His love for me. I wept almost uncontrollably as He continued to minister to my heart and share many things, which have already come to pass. What really amazed me during the years that followed, was the fact that not once do I ever remember the Lord condemning me of things I had done wrong, but shared His divine love for me over and over again. I truly believe these encounters are very rare and few between, but every time the Lord has chosen to show Himself, there was always an atmosphere of love that made one feel so accepted.
Twenty five years after this particular encounter, I still feel His passionate love motivate my heart and as I have learnt to worship Him, my life has come to understand that I cannot worship Him without demonstrating His love to those around me. I will never repent for "Taking the easy way out" and I will never say I am sorry for pointing people to Christ, because without His love, this is impossible to do. It is His love that drives me to worship and it is the love for my heavenly Father that rests deep within my heart, which causes me to surrender unconditionally and on every occasion to His lordship in and over me.
Today, I want you to know now more than ever, the love of God remains an integral part of every true believers life and whether it is directed towards us or through us, we cannot claim to please Him without His love manifesting through us. Therefore those who call themselves worshipers, must allow His grace and love to be exhibited through the Christ lives they now live. Jesus said in John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another"...
The truth is, even today, I continue to speak about the love of Christ, because His love remains so unconditional, oh that we might know the vastness of His love towards. We continue to experienced His love and have seen it demonstrated through our lives, and oh, as I continue to worship Him, it is His love that causes me to remained focused in my worship. Thank you Jesus for your love!