The chief aim of discipleship is the perfecting of our love for God and others. Discipleship expands the circumference of our love.
All of us have a circumference problem when it comes to love. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’s circumference of love. (Romans 3:23) We all reach the limit of our love and love stops.
When we listen to the Sermon on the Mount for the first time, we get an idea of a kind love that is far beyond the current circumference of our love. To be anywhere near Jesus is to feel just how far beyond our love Jesus extends his love. To follow Him over time is to be taken little by little to a new circumference of love.
When Christ is formed in us His perfect love within us pushes against the outer limits of our love. This inner stretching of the circumference of our love hurts us like growing hurts the body of a child who is headed for full maturity. This inner stretching of our love feels like carrying a cross.
Just when we think the circumference of our love is where it should be, God brings even more difficult people into our life. We are tempted to say, “Stop! Isn’t loving like this far enough?”
With Christ within us, the stretching continues until the racists become missionaries, the bigots become servants, the haters become lovers and the fearful become forgivers. This expanding of love is the miracle of Jesus’ presence in us. All who were once afraid and unwilling to love become unwilling and afraid to stop growing in Jesus’ love. They would rather die than stop loving. Finally, we are like Jesus.
When the circumference of our love becomes one with Jesus then we discover a new reality. There is no circumference to love with Jesus. This continuous growth in love is our permanent destiny just as it has been His permanent reality.