When we think of some of the dear people in our lives spontaneous feelings of love spring to our hearts. Then there are others who are not so easy to love. They challenge our sense of justice, our patience and even our Christian faith as we grapple with how to love them.
We all have them in our lives from time to time. There might be the group at church who is talking about the pastor and trying to get him to leave. Or they might be woman at work who just seems to want to make life miserable. Maybe it’s a neighbor who mistreats his family and evokes disgust from the neighborhood, or a politician who represents you yet makes decisions contrary to your beliefs. Even some extended family members can be awfully trying. Sometimes we feel justified in withholding our love.
The Bible talks about the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Here God clearly outlines them. One particular characteristic stood out to me recently… “Love is patient and is kind”. God’s Word says that the world should know we are Christians by our love. Love should be the hand-rail that will steady us in all our relationships and dealings with the world around us. Yet how is it possible? One could not just turn a blind eye to injustice, mistreatment and gossip.
The springs of love are within God. Love does not naturally exist in our own hearts when love is not returned. God tells us exactly what is required of us when we face this dilemma in our hearts. Listen to His wisdom….
“And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly
To love mercy
To walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
It makes sense. Our responsibility is simply to walk humbly with our God allowing Him to keep our hearts soft with mercy while striving for fairness. This would make the difference in the situations where people seem so irritating. His Holy Spirit can give us the patience and the ability to be kind. This approach would even bring balance to situations at church or work that might be getting out of control. This love makes sense. Mercy and fairness from God’s heart can help us deal with some of the hard spots in life.
I came to my job at PCC with relatively low expectations for my role and responsibilities. After worshiping from the seats for several months as an attender (and crying through the services, just like so many others) I eventually began to serve as a musician. They needed a piano player, and I played, so there you go.
“I have visited a lot of churches throughout my short life, and in the last 10 years, I can recall only once when a couple I did not know came up to me after a service and invited me and my wife to a meal with them.”
I read that today on this blog and was really struck by the implied challenge.
“I believe that until we get our thinking to change from church being something we go to as opposed to something that we are, we will never understand the call to community and communion…
This thinking of going versus being has permeated our culture in more than just church. Gone are the days when work was something we did. We now go to work. Education used to be something that we did by learning at all times. Now we go to school. We’ve removed the responsibility of being the church, doing work, and learning by making it something other than a part of us. Perhaps this is why it’s easier to complain about church, work and school because they are places instead of postures.
Our thinking must change. Our actions must change. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying.’ He was also convinced that action by a few wasn’t enough, it would take all of us. ‘I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.’ ” – Brad Abare, emphasis mine
Today at PCC, we prayed together for our new president. Regardless of your political preferences, he is our president, and we are compelled to pray for our leaders. As Brian said this morning, if you can’t pray for Barack Obama, you have a spiritual problem.
I had a phone call early (for me, anyway) this morning. It was a friend who wanted to share something from the Bible that she felt was really pertinent to our church right now.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”