If you’ve had prior occasion to visit the blog, you know that God seems to be driving home the need for me to love people exactly where they are at in life. Despite the circumstances they place themselves in. Despite the poor decisions they may make. And perhaps most importantly, despite my desire to just give up on them. I think there is somewhat of this current to love others running through the Church right now. I fully concede that I might have “pregnant woman” syndrome –when you’re pregnant you see other pregnant women everywhere—but it seems that many of the things I read or hear of late center around reaching out in love. I think it’s great. I think the world needs to be loved with an unchanging, unconditional, secure, steady love. What a contrast to the fleeting, up-and-down love roller coaster so many who live apart from Christ are trapped on. I so support every believer who is following Christ to live out loud in love …first in their Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria, and then unto the ends of the earth.
But you will receive power when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
I pray God’s blessing all over those Christ followers who, filled with the Spirit, display the love of the Savior in their communities, their state governments, their country and the nations around the world. Indeed, wherever God has placed us as stewards of the Firstborn’s inheritance, let us be faithful. Let us walk boldly in His Name and love beyond ourselves. We want those who are wandering lost, feeling isolated, and even the ones who don’t know they need His grace, to see a difference and feel welcomed by His love. But I have to wonder how that happens if we are engaged in subtly tearing one another apart. How can we reach out to love those who have chosen another path if we can’t even love those who are walking the trail with us? And, I fully confess, that I have kicked dust in the faces of the saints traveling by my side on far too many occasions.
I read a blog this morning encouraging believers to consider practicing the spiritual disciplines. The author didn’t profess to be an expert on the subject. He just presented some things worth challenging our minds and hearts with. I scrolled down to the comments fully expecting to see believers encouraging one another to examine their hearts on the subject. What I found instead was sniping at the author over ONE quote that had been included in the piece. Further down in the comments, the author explained that since posting he had removed the quote because of the uproar. He was defensive about the thing and I probably would’ve reacted the same way. I might’ve thought to myself “Really, all of that and this is what you’re choosing to focus on? ” I wonder if the pastors and teachers in our midst often feel that way—“Really?”. And I wonder more, how often that kind of critical spirit has flowed from MY heart and straight out of MY mouth.
At the beginning of every Bible study, I encourage the ladies who are participating to be Bereans and search the Scriptures for themselves to be certain the teaching is sound.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character
than those in Thessalonica,
for they received the message with great eagerness
and examined the Scriptures every day
to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 17:11 (NIV)
But might it be that a worthwhile commitment to confirm the unifying Truth of Christ Jesus can become distorted and slide too quickly into divisive, self-exalting legalism? Don’t misunderstand, we must be on guard against false teaching. The Bible couldn’t be more clear about that subject. We must be alert and we must man the watchtower. However, from my perspective there is a huge difference between willful deception and a poor choice of words. So might it be that as the Church is experiencing a renewed desire to reach out and love on God’s most prized creation, that we are forgetting to show gentleness and love to one another? A house divided against itself simply will not stand and oh, don’t you know that it must make the enemies of the Cross absolutely giddy to watch the Bride devour herself.
We often hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at wedding ceremonies. Truth is, it wasn’t written in the context of temporal marriage, but it was written so the Bride, the Body of Christ, would know what love looked like to the Bridegroom. Under Divine inspiration, Paul calls it “the most excellent way” and goes on to provide the ultimate description of the love the Body is called to lavish on one another.
If I can speak in the tongues of men and even of angels but have not love, that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion—the kind that is inspired by God’s love for and in me—then I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose, and I understand all the secret truths and mysteries, and possess all knowledge and if I have sufficient faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, God’s love in me, I am nothing, a useless nobody.
Even if I dole out all that I have to the poor in providing food and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory but have not love, God’s love in me, I gain nothing.
Love endures long, is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy; it is not boastful or vainglorious and it does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited, arrogant, or inflated with pride; it is not rude, unmannerly, nor does it act unbecomingly. Love, God’s love in me, does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking, it is not touchy, or fretful or resentful. It takes no account of the evil done to it nor does it pay attention to a suffered wrong.
It does not rejoice in injustice and unrighteousness but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, it is ever ready to believe the best of every person; its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening.
Love never fails, never fades out, becomes obsolete or comes to an end. As for prophecy, it will be fulfilled and pass away. As for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease and as for knowledge, it will pass away, it will lose its value and be superseded by truth.
For our knowledge is fragmentary, incomplete and imperfect and our prophecy, our teaching, is incomplete and imperfect.
But when the complete and perfect total comes the incomplete and the imperfect will vanish away, become antiquated, void and superseded.
When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child and I reasoned like a child; now that I have grown I am done with childish ways and have set them aside.
For now, I am looking into a mirror that gives but a dimmed, blurred reflection of reality, as in a riddle or an enigma, but then . . . . . . . 1 Corinthians 13 (AMP)
You are going to have to go to your Bible to read the rest because this is as far as I have memorized –for now. See, if this thick headed woman has learned nothing else in her pursuit of Life outside the Tomb, she has learned that without a doubt, left to her own devices she is a critical, sharp-tongued woman with a desire to puff herself up by making others feel less than. The only hope I have of living the lovelife, of imitating God, is to have a total heart transformation. Only His truth will change me. I must treasure what He treasures and see His children from His perspective. I have to be filled heart, soul and mind with Him so that what flows from my mouth is love. It cannot be simply what I know, it has to become who I am. . . LOVE . . . because it is who He Is. And it must flow first to the warriors who fight the good fight and run the race beside me –those whose faces I know and cherish and those I will not meet this side of Glory.
The world doesn’t need to see another fractured family living out a dysfunctional existence. They need to see a family acting like their Dad and following His example. They need to see us doing life together, honoring our commitment to one another, and loving each other despite our glaring imperfections. I have to believe that when we love each other the way He loves us, when we live and love the “most excellent way,” it’s going to draw some attention. Attention that will give us the opportunity to explain why we love the way we do.
Sisters, let’s be gracious today to the family we share eternal blood with. Let’s be committed to believing the best of them. Let’s give the same grace and understanding to the Body as we do to those who have not yet answered the call of Grace. Let’s live the “most excellent way” so the world can see the most Excellent One.