Thursday, June 04, 2009

Spread Love Everywhere

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:7-8, NASB95

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor . . . Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. - Mother Teresa (quoted in Chicken Soup For The Soul, p. 3).

I feel sorry for people who don't love others. I've known some folks like that. Dealing with them is always like following a blueprint or living up to the terms of a contract. Sure, you can make a good case for blueprints and contracts. They certainly have their place and purpose. You wouldn't want to build a house or engage in business without them. But people are not houses or businesses. They are, well. . . People!

A couple of Jesus' disciples were like this. James and John were called "sons of thunder." Maybe they were loud and boisterous. It's more likely that they were ready to zap everybody who didn't exactly measure up to their liking. On one occasion, Jesus was traveling toward Jerusalem. He sent messengers into a Samaritan village to make arrangements for him, but the Samaritans did not respond favorably. James and John asked Jesus, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"

Wow! Nice guys. I wonder what an average day was like in the company of James and John? Would you have gone to these men with your problems and mistakes? How receptive do you think they were to troubled people, folks with needs, or people needing guidance or help? If you didn't measure up to their standard, would they have been ready to scorch you with a flame?

Maybe it's true that most folks don't wear the handle, "son of thunder." But most of us will testify that even without the handle, an awful lot of people leave you feeling deflated, defeated, and discouraged. If you can provide some advantage to them, they're all for you, but if not, they can turn on you quickly. The truth is that finding people who will really love you is harder than it ought to be. Even if they don't call down fire from heaven on you, they provide nothing positive to help.

We know that John, and probably James too, matured and changed. John became the apostle known as the "apostle of love." Somewhere along the line he learned that calling down fire isn't what people need. They do need the love of Christ, and the love of Christ's people.

I'm afraid the modern church has lost much of its willingness and ability to love. Yes, there are pockets of it here and there. Outstanding examples of loving people give us hope that love can revive and grow. But these examples are too few in number. Many have opted instead for non-loving relationships. We've lost the "heart" of the gospel and replaced it with legalistic mindset.

Thankfully, the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about good news. It's the good news that Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins. It's the good news about forgiveness. It's the good news about restored fellowship with our heavenly Father. It's the good news about eternal life instead of death. It's the good news that there is love to abound. When the gospel of Jesus is properly and effectively taught, the result is always that people learn to love each other. It must be this way for John himself said, "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love."

Here's what I know. People who do not love do not know God. God is love. If we are to be the people of God, disciples of Jesus Christ, then love must rule our lives. There is no other way to see it. What a different world this would be if Christians really knew God and loved like He loves.