Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Love God. Love People" . . . it may not be easy, but it is simple!

"Love God, Love people" are simple words on one hand, but words that I think are the most difficult to live out.

Love God.
To understand who God is, you think that loving Him would come easy . . .

God is Love.
God is Unchangeable.
God is a Miracle Worker.
God is Ever Present.
God is Mighty to Save.
God is Truth.
God is Life,
God is Faithful.
God is For Us.
God is Healer.
God is Peace.

He is a God who is worthy of my love. I proclaim to love Him, yet there are times when I look at my own life and I see just how miserably I fail at this. There are days when my words fall empty, and the actions of my heart, speak loud. There are moments when my self-serving desires raise their head, and I quickly forget my prayer of "not my will, but Yours." Jesus says in John 14:15 "If you love me, obey my commandments."  While the commands of Jesus and his teachings are many, I think we can say that they are carried out ultimately in the context of a single command. In just a few verses prior to John 14:15 Jesus says ". . . Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." and He reiterates it a few verses after John 14:15 "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you."

Love People.

If I wrestle with loving a God who is good, and for me, and who is unchangeable, can you imagine my struggle to love people? People are messy and complicated and at times unkind. And sadly, sometimes it's us church people who can be the messiest and who greatly miss this mark of loving others as Christ loved us. I've been there. I've been that Christian that judged you, pointed fingers at you and made you feel unwanted as you sat in the pew beside me on Sunday morning. But more recently I've been on the other side. I've been the filthy sinner who by God's grace alone found the strength to walk back into the doors of the church. To sit and feel unwanted as judgmental eyes burned the back of my head and as faint whispers pierced the ears of my heart. It's on that other side, standing in the grace of God amongst the mess of people that I learned and continue to learn that it's not easy.

It's not easy, but the solution is simple.

It is in setting aside me, my agenda, my opinions, my expectations, what I hold to as right, and begin listening to you, getting to know you, and trying to understand who you are and what makes up your story. It doesn't always mean that we will agree, or that my opinions or yours will change, but it does give God the opportunity to work--to teach us about grace and compassion, to see that the messes of my life are no different than the messes in yours. It's then that our focus is on Jesus, and that we can truly learn to love people.

And it's there, in loving people that our love for God reaches it's fullest expression. It's impossible to love God and not love people--all people. And I haven't learned to love people without setting myself aside. Even though along this journey I have learned more often than not that it's not easy, especially in the midst of divorce, disease and disasters, it is possible. The more we love others the more we see a God who is . . .

Powerful.
Everlasting.
All Sufficient.
A Sure Foundation.
Redeemer.
The Door of the Sheep.

So may Jesus's words be the direction our days: "...Love each other in the same way I have loved you." And brace yourself, because when you start walking out this challenging life of extravagant love, EVERYTHING changes and may all the glory and all the praise go to a God who is more than worthy.

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