Loving Others

How many times have you heard your pastor or other people say, “you need to love other people and show God’s love to others”? Tell the truth, do you sometimes wish people would stop telling you to act that way? All we need to do is to turn on any media stream and find conflicting stories that  leave us in a state of confusion. Why should we love the murders, the law breakers? Why do I have to give to help starving orphans on the other side of the world that I will never see?

WHY DON’T WE LIKE TO HEAR WE NEED TO HELP OTHERS OR LOVE OTHERS?

Our fallen humanity instinct is to think of ourselves and our wants/desires/needs before we help others. It is in our non-perfect state that we end up looking after #1 before we look after other people. This can even be the case with our children. The roots of this mindset and “instinct” go all the way back to the beginning. We can read about this in the Bible in Genesis chapter 3.

In the book The Quest for Holiness—From Shallow Belief to Mature Believer, David Long writes, “when Adam and Eve turned away from God and to themselves, their nature changed to one with a tendency to disobey, a bent toward sinning in which the first thought is of self, not God and neighbor…This fallen self will always advocate that we put self first over God and others…This simply means we put our own needs first and hence, in a sense, worship self. Instead of glorifying God and serving of others, the fallen self steals the glory due God and turns it to itself.”

What this is saying is that we have to own the “why” of why we are the way we are. (Romans 7:15-20) It is because of our fallen state that we are this way.

BUT JESUS CAME AND CHANGED EVERYTHING!

Jesus changed how humanity thought loving other people was like. We love to blame other people when we mess up or refuse to act when we need to. Or, when we do sin, we do wrong, some people will say “the devil made me do it.” Since Chris came, we do not have this excuse.  The love of God through Jesus Christ continues to work in us and shows us where our lives do not align with God. We learn to take ownership of our actions and lives and don’t blame other people or entities for our lack of showing love. 

Jesus showed humanity that love is not a simple feeling, it is a state of being. It doesn’t matter the situation of the other person, we have the opportunity to show grace and God’s love to the outcasts and the poor in our world. It is because of the grace God gives us we are able to help and reach out to those in need. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Being in a relationship with God means we’ll help and show love to others But what does it mean to show love?

  • The Apostle Paul wrote a great definition of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Since we are made in the image of God, and God is love, do we live up to this standard each day? I know I don’t. But it is absolutely incredible that God continues to mold us more and more each day into the image of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Love is putting other people’s needs above our own at times. Jesus says in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.” We will often have to put aside our personal preferences for those that will glorify the Kingdom of God instead of making sure we are comfortable. If our personal preferences and our own comfort is more important than another’s person salvation, we have our priorities mixed up. If we love the building more than the God we worship, something is wrong.

The point is to build up the people in the community so the Kingdom of God in known and experienced.

There are many ways we can share God’s love to build people up so the community improves. This is how we build up our community and to live more into who God created us to be:

  • Clothing those who need clothes
  • Feeding those who need food
  • Talking with those different than us
  • Taking time to show other people (outside your family and friends since they matter to God, they matter to you)
  • Investing time in people to help develop work skills (not just for your benefit but what the community needs)
  • Spend time with people who live their life for serving God through serving others…not as a “holy huddle” to talk about why things are bad but to serve the people of God
  • Inviting people to worship to experience grace

It is through an outpouring of the grace and faith we received that we are able to show and give grace. The grace of Jesus Christ is incredible. Even though we do not live up to his expectations (though we are being molded into his image), Christ invites us to dine with him and feast at his table.He laid down his life so we could have life and share his life with others.

So, what are your thoughts?

  • What do you think about the phrase, “if our personal preferences and our own comfort is more important than another’s person salvation, we have our priorities mixed up?”
  • What do you think “personal preferences” means?
  • What more could you add that would build up the community and it’s people even though it may go against our personal preferences?

Destroying Bridges to Build New Ones

Watching this bridge being destroyed so a stronger one would be build in place of it made me think about the bridges we have built in our lives that need to be destroyed. Think about that for a minute. What bridges have you or I built that we need gone, or to be redirected? Is there a bridge of lust? of greed? of pride? of despair? of insecurities?

When we can recognize these bridges only lead us toward the darkness of life, we are ready to search for the Light. Where is it we need to destroy these bridges? The crews to help us rebuild a stronger bridge toward the Light are those around us: our family, our friends, our pastors, our youth directors, etc.

We do not live this life on our own; we live life in community. Community strengthens and reminds us we are not alone. Our community is there to strengthen and to carry burdens and to help rebuild the right bridges in our life.

The call today is to recognize and see the paths we are on may not lead us to complete peace and complete joy. The Light, Jesus Christ, is calling us to work with him to rebuild the bridge on the right path toward life with freedom, life with hope, life with peace, joy and real love.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~Galatians 2:20

Open your ears, my God, and listen! Open your eyes and look at our devastation. Look at the city called by your name! We pray our prayers for help to you, not because of any righteous acts of ours but because of your great compassion. ~Daniel 9:18

For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. ~James 5:16

Full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20

IMG_2786 IMG_2785

Say What?

“I can’t believe you just said that!”
“Well, if you knew what I was really thinking…”

How often have we said or thought those phrases or something like them? I bet you’re like me and often hear the meaning behind the words even if that’s not what the person meant.

I do not particularly enjoy confrontation. It is, however, interesting to hear conversations going on around me. I believe my job, as a Christian, is to say what needs to be said in a convicting yet caring way. This is not always easy.

Imagine if you are talking with a stranger and this person says some way you need to change. Now imagine the same conversation, but this time it’s a close friend not a stranger. Who would you take offense at? Who would you get defensive with or have your feelings hurt?

Speaking with strangers is sometimes easier than friends or family. Doesn’t it seem we’re nicer and more patient with strangers?

What would it look like to speak the same way to family and friends?

Our speech should build up and encourage. Sometimes encouragement comes in the form of criticism, but it’s purpose is to build up. The language we use is important to pay attention to so that it is used in the right way.

Using communication to build up is not as easy as tearing down; but I know we can all do it.

20140805-200315-72195956.jpg