I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
I’m still amazed how the Lord takes us to greatest lengths to teach us the simplest of things. It wasn’t until people I loved started to walk out of life that I began to understand the depth of Paul’s comments. It took a whole summer 7,500 miles away for the Lord to work out the kinks in my own heart before I could begin to understand. And it took a conversation over a delicious burrito for this concept to sink in.
To long for someone with the affection of Christ Jesus.
These few verses have changed my definition of longing and affection. I used to think these words were uttered when you loved someone in the “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” kind of love. But, I think it’s more than that. It goes beyond telling someone you love them. It’s a lifestyle. A mindset. It comes from being humbled in the presence of the Cross and the greatness of our Lord, Jesus. It’s so easy to have affection toward someone when they have it back, if they’re easy to love, if they look like you, do the same things you do, or believe the same things you believe. But, what about the ones who are unlovable? What about those who are unfaithful? The unforgivable?
But, looking at the passage, I see how Paul has thrown aside petty differences and trivial disputes. We are partners in the gospel. Each of us forcefully advancing the Kingdom. Each of us striving for the same goal. We are all trying to bring as many with us through the pearly gates when the clock hits zero.
When you meet with Jesus and you begin to see how he loves and how he gives and how he cares, this deep affection builds in the bottomest part of your heart. People aren’t just people, but partners. Fellow warriors. Fellow lovers. You begin to see them as Jesus does and the pettiness falls away and you find yourself wishing the best for them. Their success is your prayer. Their joy becomes your own. All of sudden you want them to figure it out. To meet Jesus. Prayers extend beyond yourself and you’re right in the middle of their life. This affection blossoms and you realize you might just die for them like Jesus did for us.
His affection for us is so big. Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ.