As I think about how the world has changed since I was a child, a seemingly much simpler time and age I sometimes get overwhelmed and dismayed, especially as a parent. How, in this world of instant gratification, of watered down morals, and "do whatever pleases you" messages do I teach my children to love relentlessly. To trust the Lord speaking to them more than the world? To hear his quiet voice amidst the thunder of this world. To live humble lives, surrendered to the Lord. The only answer I have is the one the Lord seemed to choose to teach us, by example. He sent Jesus to live on this earth and show us how to live. He lived selflessly. He lived uncompromisingly. He lived a life of total surrender to his father and full of love and compassion.
The other day I was having quiet time and I randomly (not really of course, the Lord knew just what I needed) turned to 1 John 1:10-? I have read this many times before, but this time it had a profound impact on me. The entire chapter, really. Reading it in the Message it says "This is the kind of Love we are talking about - not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice, to clear away our sins and damage they have done to our relationship to God. My dear, dear friends if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever, But if we love one another God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love."
We live in a world that has taken the word "love" and watered it down to the point where it can be used as a mildly stated opinion. "I love flip flops!" "I love to go hiking." "I love hamburgers." Really?!? I think it important to take a trip back to 1 Corinthians 13 to remind ourselves what he is really talking about here. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8A NAS "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth ; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 13:12-13 "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love abide - these three; but the greatest of these is love." Love is not just a fleeting feeling of joy, it is a way we live - selflessly putting others above ourselves without agenda. This is how Jesus loved.
As I think of all the issues we have today, hatred, greed, pornography, loose living, homosexuality, among others - I realize that though some of these come in different forms today, such as the internet, social media and other digital devices, they are also often supported by our government, schools and even some of our churches, even so these things are not new. Ecc. 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
Jesus knew these people, these issues, these sinners. He knew them. He loved them. He called them to repentance, and (many of them, though not all) saw this and they knew that he loved them, and they loved him back. In and out of the church we seem to have a huge discrepancy. We often seem to either respond to sin with hatred "taking our stand" or we simply accept it. Do whatever you want. Jesus did neither of these. He loved them. Loved them to the very core of their being, no matter what their decisions about him were, but he did not accept their sin. He called them to "repent and sin no more." We have a hard time doing this. I have often thought of his example and wondered what is different, why we struggle so much to do this. And today it hit me. It's because we see this and then, of ourselves try to copy it. But we can't. God is love. He is the only true love. And we can only love others with him in us. We can't do it on our own. The great news is that we have his spirit living inside us, and we can love others as he does, with his wisdom and his power - we just can't do it on our own. So, how do we do this practically? We surrender ourselves to him day by day, moment by moment and ask him to guide us. And when we mess up (as we often do) we just go back, and do it again. We ask for his presence, his wisdom, his forgiveness and his love. The only way I can teach these things to my children is to practice them myself. One day at a time.