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Love's Rivals

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Kingdom Living #10

Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” He asked him this question three times. (John 21:15-17) Perhaps He asked him three times because Peter denied the Lord three times. But no doubt each time the Lord asked, Peter’s heart was drawn closer to the ultimate reality. Peter really did love the Lord.

Living in the kingdom of Christ involves loving Christ. The love required is not a sentimental affection, but deep abiding loyalty, sacrificial service, and undying commitment to His teaching and His cause. It is to be an unrivaled love. No one nor anything is to compete for the love that is due only to Jesus Christ.

When one internalizes the Divine meaning of the cross, it is quite possible to understand why Jesus demands us to love Him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27) Discipleship is not teaching people to love the Lord. Loving the Lord above all begins from the start. Discipleship is adhering to the teachings of Christ and being devoted to His cause because of our love for Him. Sometimes love for family demands the loyalty which belongs only to the Lord.

Another area which might rival ones love for the Lord involves leaders. Jesus faced a fierce rival for the minds and hearts of men. The lost sheep of Israel had lost their way. They had institutionalized the covenant God gave them into a highly organized and structured religion.

In Jesus day Israel’s religion had the scribes. They were experts in both canonical and traditional law. Israel’s religion had the Pharisees. They were a political and religious party who were strict adherents to the Law and numerous traditions. Israel’s religion had the Sadducees. They were a smaller more influential political party which didn’t believe in the resurrection. Israel’s religion had a council to enforce their laws and traditions. This council had seized for itself great power over all things civil and religious concerning Israel.

Jesus said that this people honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. The nation as a whole had more loyalty toward the institution of religion rather than to the God the people were supposed to love above all. The institution had enslaved their hearts. It was not the structure nor organization which led to Israel’s being lost but the way authority and power were exercised over the people.

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.” (Matthew 23:8-10) In the kingdom of Christ there is one Teacher, one Father, and one Leader, i.e., God our Father and Jesus Christ our Teacher and Leader.

Christ gave the organization and structure to the communities of Christ. But every leadership role must follow His model of exercising authority. When disciples exercise authority in their roles as Jesus taught, they become great in the kingdom and are exalted by Christ. “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)

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