Sunday, July 23, 2017

Love Like That

"REAL CHRISTIANS OBEY JESUS’ TEACHINGS"
The billboard holding these words feels as if it’s pointing fingers, judging every passerby. The lower right hand corner holds an image of the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments.  There is nothing else. 

As I zoom past it, my heart is instantly heavy.  It’s not heavy from guilt. It’s heavy because it aches. It aches for all the people who are hungry for the love of Christ.  It aches for all the people who are hurting and searching for more out of life. Someone spent a large sum of money on a billboard message only to give these hurting people a message of guilt, rules, and judgment instead of a message of love and hope.

What was the goal of this billboard?  Was it to make converts?  Spread the gospel? Slap all Christians on the hand with a ruler and make them sit in the corner?

REAL CHRISTIANS OBEY JESUS’ TEACHINGS….Are any of us real Christians then?  Don’t we all sin?  Don’t we all veer off the road every once in awhile?  Is anyone perfect every single day, in every thought and action? Has anyone ever obeyed every…single… teaching? So then, real Christianity is for perfect people only?

I guess heaven is going to be an empty place if real Christians are only described as those who have never disobeyed.

For the love of God!  Really….

God is love! We were made in His image.  When we love, we are reflecting His image.  He wants love more than obedience just as we desire love from our children.  He wants relationship, just as we want relationship with our children.  REAL CHRISTIANS HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.  It’s possible to obey Jesus’s teachings without loving him.  But is it possible to love him without wanting to obey him?  When our own children love us deeply, it’s easier for respect, honor, and obedience to follow.

Curly, a rough cowboy in the movie City Slickers, sums it up. Mitch, Billy Crystal’s character, is out on the range with Curly, while he teaches the city slickers a thing or two about life.  

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Curly: This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean [#*@#*]
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: [smiles] That's what *you* have to find out.

Jesus did the same as Curly.  He looked at his followers and said (my loose translation), “One thing. Just one thing.  You stick to that and the rest of it doesn’t matter.”  

“’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’  This is the most important, the first on the list.  But there is a second to the set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22:37-40  

 His disciples continued teaching "that one thing” throughout the New Testament.

The whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself.’” Galatians 5:14

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6

Love means living the way God commanded us to live.  As you have heard from the beginning, his command is this: Live a life of love.” 2 John 1:6

 “Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1

 “Keep company with God and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us…Love like that.” Ephesians 5:2  

I love that last line. Love like that. You see how Jesus did it?  Love like that, not cautious but extravagant.

I have shared this story before but I find this topic on love continues to rise up and make my heart ache for everyone to know “that one thing.” On our twentieth wedding anniversary, my husband gave me a continuous string of fresh water pearls that was at least 30 inches long. I can wrap it around my neck three times, leave it long, tie it in a knot or any other creative way that hits me.   I remember opening the package while we were seated at the restaurant and, as I pulled them out of the pouch, they just kept coming and coming and coming until my arm was straight above my head trying to hold them up in the air!  The next day I told my friend Beth about the pearls and she said with a smile on her face, "I just love it when a man can love extravagantly."  

Extravagant means to exceed the limits of reason or necessity, profuse, lavish, lacking in moderation or restraint, excessive.  Does our love look like this?  Paul says, "Love like that."

Rick Warren says in Purpose Driven Life, “Life is all about love…its what matters most…. Because God is love, the most important lesson he wants you to learn on earth is how to love… It is in loving that we are most like Him.”  This is our purpose.  As we love others, we organically discover our unique purpose, but love is our universal purpose.  It really is this simple:  Love God, love others.  Life boils down to this…. that one thing.  When we get to heaven, I doubt God will ask us what we got done on any given day, or if we obeyed every single teaching of Jesus’ at all times, but He may just ask us how well we loved.

God’s purpose for our lives is practically a flashing neon sign in the scriptures. Love. Love. Love… and then love some more.  How can we possibly miss it?  Yet we do, daily.  But daily He forgives us, daily He encourages us to try again - daily He gives us the grace we need to love like Him.  Daily He believes in us.  God knows our potential.  In order for us to walk in our unique purpose, which He established within each of us, we must learn to love much and love well.  

REAL CHRISTIANS LOVE  


 A perfect way to end this post.  Listen now, close your eyes, and go love much and love well.
"More Like Love" by Ben Rector




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