Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Depart from me...

Hello, gentle readers.

As you can tell from past blogs, God has been dealing with my heart on the subject of LOVE. My partner and I were on our way to work, and a very simple verse came to me with such power and presence. As we shared our thoughts, I felt God speaking. Consider this with me.

Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, 'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But, I will reply, 'I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.'" NLT

Jesus summarized the Commandments in Matthew 22:37-40, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." NLT

How does that speak to us today? Very simply but very deeply: It's all about LOVE. Jesus very plainly said we can do all sorts of great things; prophesy, deliverance, miracles. But only one thing truly matters. Do you LOVE? If God tells us to LOVE, are we in obedience? I dare say that not many of us walk that walk of faith with consistency. We are so busy doing that we fail to LOVE.

So, what is being the LOVE of God in another's life? On the short list would be things like listening and caring, avoiding gossip and vile talk, even providing food and shelter to one in need. Are we the good Samaritan? (Luke 10:30-36) Or are we the priest and the Levite? Interesting how often Jesus used the religious leaders of the day to show us how not to be. The priest passed by on the other side of the road. The Levite passed by on the other side. But the Samaritan had mercy on the man who was robbed, or was heartbroken over his condition. The Samaritan went directly to the injured man, bound his wounds, and then carried him on his own donkey to a place where he could be properly taken care of. Not only did he pre-pay the inn keeper for his trouble, but promised to pay anything over and above that the inn keeper had to pay out!

In v36, Jesus asked those listening, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law responds in v37, "The one who had mercy on him." And Jesus replies, "Go and do likewise."

It stands to reason that if we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, that the whole world is our neighborhood and deserves our very best. It's not good enough to say to someone who is hungry, "Peace be with you. Be well." We must step outside of our own selves and feed the hungry. That is LOVE. It is not good enough to say to someone without a job, "Peace be with you." Help them find the job that God has for them. And if you are a business owner, give them a job! That is LOVE. It is not good enough to say to someone who is homeless, "Peace be with you." Open your home to them. Pay for an apartment if you are able. Don't just wish people well. Be the answer to their prayers! Be God's LOVE in their life!

This is the commitment that God requires of us as Christians. It's all about the LOVE. You can have all the spiritual gifts in the world, but if you don't have love you're just so much noise.
(I Cor. 13:1-3) You can preach the best sermons on the earth, but if you don't have love, you are voiceless. Jesus said that all humankind will know that we are his disciples if....we pray a lot?...we give our tithe?...we sing really well in worship?...go on visitation every Tuesday night? No. A thousand times no. Jesus said that all humankind will know we are his disciples by our LOVE! John 13:34-35 says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."

That pretty much sums it all up, doesn't it? We can only claim to be his disciples if we show love to one another. How's your "love level" today? Have you passed by on the other side of a hurting and needy world? Or are you the one who will stop and meet the needs of those God puts in your path?

May God bless you richly this day.


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