God’s love

It All Comes Down to Love

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Every once in a while you come across a blog post that is just too good to keep to yourself.  Brian Zahnd’s recent post titled Love Never Ends:  A Meditation is one of those.

Brian is the Lead Pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri.  He is one of those guys who is all about the Kingdom of God.  I have enjoyed many of the insights he has shared.

Excerpts

In his post, Brian shares on the foundational and enduring quality of God’s love.  You need to read and pray through it in it’s entirety, but let me provide you with a couple of excerpts that will inspire you.

Why is there something instead of nothing?
The only answer I can imagine is Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God…
But why would God say, “Let there be light” and initiate Creation?
The only answer I can imagine is God is love.

What is light? God’s love in the form of photons.
What is water? A liquid expression of God’s love.
What is a mountain? God’s love in granite, so much older than human sorrow.
What is a tree? God’s love growing up from the ground.
What is a bull moose? God’s love sporting spectacular antlers.
What is a whale? Fifty tons of God’s love swimming in the ocean.

Love never ends.
At the end of all things there is love. Love abides. Love endures.
When the last star burns out, God’s love will be there for whatever comes after.
In the end it all adds up to love. So when you are calculating the meaning of life—
If it doesn’t add up to love, recalculate, because you’ve made a serious mistake!

Existence only makes sense when seen through the lens of love.
At the beginning of time there is love.
At the bottom of the universe there is love.
It’s in God’s ocean of endless love that we live and move and have our being.

So Much More

There is so much more here that you need to take in and mull over.  Please, stop whatever you are doing and carefully read over Brian’s post.  It is inspiring and uplifting, while at the same time being challenging and convicting.  After all, it all comes down to love, and love is the only sure sign that we are truly, genuinely, living in the Reign.

M

The Root Cause

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At one point in my life I worked for a pharmaceutical company.  The job I enjoyed more than all the others I did there was conducting investigations.  Because we were manufacturing medicinal products for human consumption, each product had to be manufactured according to strict governmental guidelines.  Any anomaly in the manufacturing process could jeopardize the saleability of the product and potentially cost the company millions of dollars.  Therefore every time something went wrong in manufacturing, the incident had to be carefully investigated to determine its impact on the product.  Some investigations were quite simple and easily resolved.  There were some investigations, however, that were quite extensive and would involve several departments within the company. 

When conducting an investigation, one thing we always had to look for was the root cause.  In other words, what was the underlying factor(s) that caused this anomaly to occur in the manufacturing process?   Once that was determined we could come up with a preventative action to keep the problem from reoccurring in the future.  Determining the root cause and coming up with a preventative action sometimes required some very creative thinking!

With this investigative process as a basis, I have a question I would like to ask:

What is the root cause of all the pain, heartache, and woes of our modern society?

The answer might be easier to determine than what you think.

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Something to be remembered

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Christmas is a time for remembering.  We remember a young virgin, hardly more than a child, who abandoned herself to the Lord to bear His Son before she was even married.  We remember her young fiancée who obediently married her, even though he could hardly understand what was going on.  We remember the Child born in a stable.  We remember the angels visiting shepherds in the field.  All of these images flood our hearts and minds with cherished memories.  I would like to propose one more very important thing that needs to be remembered at Christmas time.

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How Do We Do It? 2

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The apostle John lays out some no-nonsense direction on how to walk in love in 1st John 3:16 – 18.

 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

How Not to Love

Not only does John tell us how we should love, he also tells us how not to love.  He tells us that our love cannot be in word only.  I think the old phrase “Talk is cheap” comes in here.  Words can be an expression of mere sentiment, or they can provide a cover for what is truly in the heart.  Agape love has to be so much more than that.

Love in Deed

If we have God’s agape love truly working in our lives, it will manifest itself in the way we extend ourselves to others.  We won’t simply wish them well and go happily on our way.  If they are hurting, we will move intentionally to ease their suffering.  If they need help, ours will be the hand that is extended.  If they are hungry, we have food to share.  If they need to talk, we are there to listen.  This is what love looks like in action.

Love in Truth

Kind words and beneficial deeds may not necessarily be evidences of love, however.  Remember what Paul said in 1st Corinthians 13:3?

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

We can do kind things simply because we feel it is the right thing to do.  We may not care about the person at all.  Good deeds can also be done because we feel pressure from others to participate.  We may participate in a good and benevolent project but our heart may not be in it. 

This is what John means when he exhorts us to love in truth.  God’s agape love must be the motivating factor behind our benevolence.  Our charitable acts must spring from genuine concern for others regardless who they are or how they got into their situation.  This is what it means to love in truth.

How Do We Know?

How do we know if we are loving in truth?  I think we need to examine our focus.  What is our motivation for doing what we do?  Are we focused on what other people will think when they see us engaged in good deeds?  Chances are we are being motivated by public affirmation rather than by love.  Do we feel pushed to do something because of a nagging sense of guilt or obligation?  It’s very likely we are merely trying to ease our conscience rather than love somebody.  True love that comes from God does what it does because it is focused on the person and merely desires to help them at the root of their need.  And that kind of love only comes by living in the Reign.

M

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How Do We Do It?

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In the last post I gave three concrete reasons as to why we should love one another.  While it is all well and good to know that we should love one another, the real question is how do we do it?  What does it look like to love one another on a practical level?  Let’s see if we can find the answer.

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Why Should We Do IT?

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Love is a wonderful thing.  It validates our ministries and manifests the nature of God.  That’s on the one hand.  On the other hand it makes us incredibly vulnerable.  It opens us to rejection.  It takes a lot of time and effort that can seem to be wasted on people who don’t appreciate it.  So why should we do it? Why should we make the effort to love one another?  I can give you three concrete reasons.

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