Thursday, September 13, 2012
Love is the missing piece of the puzzle...
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." --John 13:34-35
My head is spinning right now because of how God puts things together to make sense in my mind. There are times when I look at the pieces of my life and see how God puts all the pieces together in one big "God puzzle." Each morning, when I am quiet and alone, I reach to my devotional tools. I have a daily Bible verse on my phone. That is usually the one I start with on my blog. I also have a little devotional book that has a specific reading for each day. It has a Bible verse and then a little message about that verse. And right now, I am also reading the book that my whole church is reading together. Sometimes I reach for only one of those tools, but today, I reached for all three. It didn't take me very long to read all three, especially as my brain worked at how they all were connected! All three resources were written by different people at different times, but all three were connected...they were about love.
The Bible verse above contains some of the "written in red" words of the Bible, as they were spoken by Jesus. He commanded us to love one another. WHY? He loved (loves) us and wants us to show the world this love by loving others.
HOW are we to do this? Look at "the love chapter" of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. While it is often thought of as instructions for a good marriage, it was actually written for a church that was NOT being very loving to each other. It talks about what love IS, but look at the words that Paul say love ISN'T...it is not envious, not proud or boastful, it is not dishonoring to others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it does not keep a record of wrongs, it does not delight in evil, it never fails. Paul was writing this letter about love to a group of people who were new followers of Jesus...one of the first Christian churches, and they were NOT loving each other. And this letter is so perfect for us, thousands of years later, as we are NOT being loving to each other either, inside the church and out.
I know myself, and to be honest, there are those, inside the church and out that I have NOT shown love to. Being loving to others who are NOT loving themselves is hard work! I struggle with this every day. Looking at that list of things that love is NOT...I admit to many of them. Being THAT kind of person, that is NOT envious or proud or easily angered...I want that, but find that a very hard model to live up to. So what am I to do? PRAY!
"Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you great things you have not known." -- Jeremiah 33:3
When I am searching for ways to be more loving...when I don't understand HOW I can act differently than I feel...when I just don't think I am capable of being that loving person Jesus and Paul instructs me to be...when there is someone I need to forgive, but the hurt is just too great...if I CALL OUT TO GOD in prayer, he will inspire me with greater understanding and provide me with the way to do those things that feel impossible for me.
And Jesus says when we do this, when we love one another, others will see our actions and know we are Christians by our love. When others outside of the church see us being forgiving and less petty and loving to people of all types, creeds, skin colors, etc, they will be drawn to THAT kind of love! When we give up needing to have our own way all the time...when we stop thinking that Christians have to be perfect...when we give others a break occasionally...when we stop thinking there is such a thing as a "perfect church,"...when we stop complaining and get down to the loving work that needs to be done in this world and give up our selfish needs and desires...we will find that people WANT to be part of a loving church!
Love is the key to putting the "God puzzle" together! Love really DOES make the world go round! But, love is NOT easy. God knows this and wants us to rely on HIM to give us strength and the ability to love one another. We can't love the way we should on our own without God's help. THAT is the missing piece to the puzzle. The picture is not complete until we reach out to God. He will put that missing piece in the right place...if we ask him to!