Hello lovely people.
Once again, thank you so much for your comments on last week’s blog. Keep the feedback coming!
So, it’s time to wrap up this little series on Love. Last week I wrote about the overwhelming, unconditional, amazing love that God shows us and asked;
“So, what does that mean in the reality of day to day life? Is it just a warm and fuzzy feeling that makes us feel better about ourselves? Or does it make a difference to the way we live our lives?”
Well, there’s two things I want to talk about here.
First – God loves us, but he also wants to be in a relationship with us. He wants us to respond to his love, and to love him back. Mr B and I have been together 10 years this year, and will be celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. And I hope he doesn’t mind my revealing this – poor bloke – but he loved me before I loved him (there’s nothing wrong with him….I was just a bit behind!). But as anyone who has had an unrequited love knows, what you really want is for the person who consumes your heart and mind to love you back. You want to talk to them until late into the night, to get to know everything about them, to be in a relationship with them*.
And this relationship is what God longs for us that is what He created us for. Being in relationship with God is how lives are changed. It can’t guarantee anyone an easy ride, but in relationship with God we find joy, hope and peace.
Second – the love God shows us in Jesus is the love that we are called to show others.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34 NIV
We are commanded to love others as God has loved us. And these ‘others’ that we must love? Well, they’re not just the people we like. They’re the people who think differently to us, like the Jew and the Samaritan in the parable of the Good Samaritan. They’re the people who hurt us (Luke 6:29). They’re the people of different cultures and backgrounds to us;
The LORD your God is more powerful than all other gods and lords, and his tremendous power is to be feared. His decisions are always fair, and you cannot bribe him to change his mind. The LORD defends the rights of orphans and widows. He cares for foreigners and gives them food and clothing. And you should also care for them, because you were foreigners in Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 CEV
Blimey. Challenging?! I think so.
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago where someone said, when talking about the long term unemployed in our town, “Christians and Christian agencies need to change the mindset of these people”. Do we? Or do we need to show the love of Christ to them, without passing judgement on their reasons for their lack of employment and dependence on benefits? Isn’t it more important to be deliberate in loving, supporting and encouraging them, rather than changing their mindset to turn them into something more ‘socially acceptable’?
I work a few hours a week for Eastbourne and Wealden YMCA, as their Chaplain. One of the things I do is run a weekly session at our residential centre in Eastbourne, where residents can come to talk, for advice, support or prayer (if they’re interested in that!). In the initial stages there was no ‘agenda’ for the sessions, as I wanted to spend time getting to know the residents. However, on explaining my role as Chaplain, and the fact that I was a Christian, they soon had questions about God, faith and the Bible and I was able to share some of what I believe. I was asked to report about this work at a trustees’ meeting, and on doing so one trustee commented “Well that sounds good, but have you actually preached the gospel to them?”.
These young people commonly have problems stemming from a resistance to being told what to do or what to think – preaching at them is unlikely to create much of a response. What I can do is show God’s love to them. By listening to them, having time for them, not passing judgement on the things they do, buying them pizza (when they discovered that Steve and I were paying for a couple of pizzas a week, out of our own money, they were totally amazed!). Many of them have never experienced much in the way of unconditional love. If I can reflect just a fraction of the love God has for them, then my prayer is that they’ll ask me more questions about this God and His love.
Loving others as God loves us is certainly a challenge. But I love trying, because it has the potential to build really great relationships with people and enrich my life, as well as those that I’m trying to love.
So that’s the end of the love mini-series. I’d love to hear your thoughts – there’s much more to be said, and I don’t pretend that I have adequately answered the questions posed at the beginning of this post – just shared a couple of ideas.
It’s all got a bit serious here….I’ll be back next week with something a bit lighter – Take That, or musicals, or shoes, or something 😉
Happy Friday everyone!
*Robbie Williams, please take note. I’ve loved you for nearly 20 years. 😉