I’ve been reading a book recently by an author who is widely considered a leadership genius. He is obviously not a Christian by the illustrations that he uses, but he has made a stunning revelation … stunning to him, anyway! He has been studying the most influential leaders on earth, and he has come to the conclusion that it is not their product or their ideas or their skills that are changing the world.
He says, “They have this incredible sacrificial love, and they are changing the world!” In fact, he says that he has no idea how this works, but that he has observed that sacrificial love for others creates this enormous energy in the life of ANYONE … an energy that seems limitless.
He has no idea that the word that he is searching for is AGAPE. But he is certainly correct that agape (self-sacrificing love) is a source of tremendous energy!
Consider this example: I saw a news story recently where a mother heard a scream and looked out the window to see her little girl in the grasp of a mountain lion. That mother flew through the door and launched herself on that lion as if SHE were the predator! She literally reached into the lion’s mouth and pulled her daughter to safety with such ferocity that the lion fled (and was later euthanized).
I did a little research and found out that in Utah, Colorado, and California as well as Alberta, Canada, this has happened repeatedly. Petite mothers have GONE BERSERK and rescued their babies from the mouths of lions!! To be frank, the mother has not always survived the encounter. But in all of the accounts that I was able to find, the mother’s child survived.
Some call that “maternal instinct” or maternal love. But fathers do the same thing when they, for example, rush into oncoming traffic to rescue a wandering toddler. The connecting link is that in that heart-stopping moment, the love they have for their children (or their friends, or whoever) immediately becomes a self-sacrificing love. Perfect love (agape) literally casts out the fear that would normally paralyze them; and, freed from that paralysis of fear, they accomplish the miraculous!
A LOVE THAT IS WILLING TO SACRIFICE SELF
generates energy that makes everything else possible!
When you operate on the basis of sacrificial love, a nuclear power plant burns within you. Love has this LIMITLESS energy that (according to the Apostle Paul) enables you to protect forever and trust forever and hope forever and persevere forever!
In I Corinthians 13 he said it this way: “Love always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. And it always perseveres. Love never fails!”
When I watch Jesus living out this love in the Bible, it is amazing!!
It is as if Jesus says to us, “I will PROTECT you until the last breath in my body, and I will TRUST in your capacity to change through EVERY trial, and I will HOPE for the best for you even when you don’t have any hope left for yourself, and I will PERSEVERE in rescuing you until the final moment when I can scream in triumph, “It is finished!”
Where ON EARTH does love like that originate from? The answer, of course, (although my leadership author can’t grasp this) is that it does not originate on earth!
AGAPE is a DIVINE force that cannot be stopped.
AGAPE… sacrificial love… is THERMONUCLEAR in its ability to produce energy!
- It gets sleeping parents up in the night to help their sick children.
- It sends exhausted medics back onto the field of battle to rescue one more fallen brother.
So… how exactly do we appropriate that level of energy?
Think for a moment about that fist-sized pump beating in your chest. Your physical heart is the organ that pumps life-giving oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body. And when the Bible talks about your heart (as the term is used in Scripture), it refers to the part of you that pumps energy into every aspect of your life. Your heart is the power plant that pours energy into every aspect of your life. And where does your heart get that energy?
Romans 5:5 answers that question. “God’s love (agape) has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us!”
LOVE GENERATES LIMITLESS ENERGY!
IF YOUR LIFE HAS JUST PLAIN RUN OUT OF ENERGY, THAT IS THE SIGN THAT YOU NEED TO OPEN YOUR HEART ONCE AGAIN TO THE SACRIFICIAL LOVE OF GOD … AND TO MINISTERING THROUGH THAT LOVE-RELATIONSHIP.
Recently our friend Rick Dugan reminded us eloquently that the power of God does not flow through us because we minister out of strategy, but only out of love.
That’s what Jesus told the church at Ephesus. They had stopped doing ministry through the nuclear power of sacrificial love. In fact, they had forgotten their first love.
And they needed to return … to surrender again to the love that was at the heart of their mission.
You may feel as you read this that you have RUN OUT OF GAS, that maybe whatever it was that God has used in you in years gone by is gone, that the last drop of juice has been squeezed out of you, that the gifts seem to no longer be flowing, and the CALLING may have passed you by.
But God’s unshakeable Word says in Romans 11:29, “God’s gifts and God’s calling are irrevocable!”
He never changes His mind! If you were EVER given spiritual gifts, you are STILL gifted! If you were EVER called, you are STILL called!
It is time to surrender to the CALLING of the mission!
- Not ALL the lost are yet saved!
- Not ALL the wandering have come home!
- Not ALL of the weak have become strong!
- Not ALL of the deceived have learned the truth!!
We must turn back again to the source of thermonuclear energy in our lives (the willingness to love with a sacrificial love), and we must rely upon the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot do. The call of God on our lives has not changed. With God’s loving help, we will take up our calling, straighten our mantle, walk off our limp, and fulfill our mission to rescue the lost!