If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Jesus gives the disciples a very poignant description of the relationship they are invited to have with Him. He describes in John 15:1-13 what this relationship should look like and compares His relationship with them to a vine and its branches. He is the Vine and believers are the branches. The vine gives strength and nourishment to the branches and cannot exist apart from the vine. So it is with us as we walk with Christ. We are to be so closely connected with Him that apart from Him, we can do nothing. I remember as a young Christian observing a couple who obviously were connected to Jesus in a way that I did not think was possible. When I asked them what their secret was, they said it was spending time “abiding” in Christ. Just as the union of the vine and the branch is vital, so is our time spent connecting with Christ, receiving our nourishment and very existence from Him. So it was with Paul that his life was so connected with Jesus that he lived only to know Him and to make Him known. He knew that his encouragement came from his union with Christ, and that union allowed him unity in spirit with others.
Intimacy with Christ fills us with agape love. There are several kinds of love: filos, brotherly love; eros, sexual love; and agape, a love that emanates from the Father’s heart. Jesus described the love that he had for His Father in their intimate relationship: Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21) Jesus wanted us to be united to Him as He and the Father were united. In turn He desired that believers would be united in His love. (v.23) The unity of the body of Christ will demonstrate the love of Christ.
You may not have experienced a close relationship with your father on earth, but God the Father seeks to draw you near to Him. He sacrificed His only Son so that you could be in a close relationship with Him – so close that you can hear His heartbeat! His heart beats for you. He is tender and full of compassion, and His loving eyes are on you. Are you willing to open your heart?
Heavenly Father, Help me to receive Your unconditional love. So many conditions for love have been put on my life that it is difficult to receive Your love. I open my heart to receive from You; I open my arms to embrace You; I open my eyes to see You. In Jesus’ name, Amen