We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
1 John 3:16-24 NASB1995
Believe it or not, the passage below, attributed to Paul, was not written just to be read at a wedding. Love is of God.
In fact, it was written to instruct us on how we are to live each day of our life in this world. I feel like there are a lot of noisy gongs in our church community these days. What about you? Where do I fail?
Uber patriotism and uncaring dogmatism should never overrule your Christian walk. Stand firm with love. The word of God is a two-edged sword, yet our tongue and typing finger should not be.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NASB1995
I have so many things to say, but no safe way to say them. I’ve been told that if I say anything, I’ll be “cancelled” by one group or another. I haven’t always done the safe thing, yet I mostly choose to do the right thing.
There are too many people with too little actual openhearted exposure to the struggles of others. Deep seated stereotypes and grievances fill the thoughts of minds to the point that nothing new can fit in. They don’t understand and may be too afraid to care about the pain of others. Facing reality is of course very scary.
We all need to seek to understand what our minority friends and neighbors are going through. And take time to listen and seek to understand the emotions they are going through. This is required if we actually love those around us.
I have seasons where my fire needs to be stoked. Often I may be upset at the situation that pushed me into a better position for my love, for my neighbor, to burn more intensely. But I understand this cycle, the Spirit moves me for the purpose He created me for. The love of God must burn more intensely within me and this causes the love for my neighbor to burn more righteously.
Jesus said these are the top two commands; love the Lord with all your mind, heart, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Yet, I see many fellow Christians around me who are always simply going through the motions of religious ritual. They seem to refuse to be moved from their present state of smoldering. Piles of wood have been laid around them, but the wood has smothered the fire. The wood has never been allowed to dry. It stays wet with the with the heavy dew of indifference.
Now, here we are again, many minds are still closed and pyre’s formed. Their fire is no more than a small flicker trying to burn the sacrifice of faux indignation.
I’m calling you out to do something more than pose for a social media picture.
Let the hurting grieve with a shout and fierce resolve. Let us all be active to the betterment of the situation that caused the pain in our neighbors, and let us love with action and not simply words.
Love and pray deeply enough to change yourself and seek to change the circumstance of the hurting. Be a change agent. If protests are not for you, that’s fine.
What I do may not be seen in the public square, because that’s not everyone’s role, but my resolve is to be part of changing the circumstance of the hurting with the gifts and the circumstance God has given me in order to do His will. I will use my influence in my situation to bring change.
WHY HAS YOUR LOVE TURNED COLD?!
For the past 3 years my family has received the Baptist Global Response (BGR) Christmas gift catalog by mail.
We started a tradition where I’ll give the catalog to my children and allow them to circle the gifts that they would like to purchase for those in need.
We like to do this with BGR because we generally get a letter back from them with stories about how our donation was used to help bless the people in the way that was represented in the catalog.
Because we own chickens of course one of the items we always purchase is chickens. And because it’s such a great need we also now add in water filtration systems. You may remember the Global Relief Run I directed with my local church last year was raising funds for water filtration.
It’s such an uplifting experience to get the letters back from BGR and to hear the stories of how these gifts are actually used.
I’d encourage each of you to take a look at the online gift catalog and select a gift or two to purchase this year. Make it a yearly tradition for you and your family.
Achieving diversity of thought is important in many areas of life.
Many efforts are taken to create teams with diverse backgrounds and unique experiences to achieve diversity of thought.
Yet, the problem still remains that there is a lack of hearing and incorporating those thoughts.
The issue to face now is one of a need for diversity of hearing. And taking time to understand those unique perspectives and incorporating those thoughts into the fabric that is the team or community we live in.
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-20 NASB