Those who read this blog know that music is the thing that turns my heart and soul toward God. Today I was thinking about how much help others need now and when we are again able to gather together. We are called by Christ to help each other. I have sung this song so many times and for so many years but it still speaks of how we should live.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. – Colissians 3.12&15
It is important to understand that this means US! We are chosen by God. He has told us we have been called by name. Each and every one of us belongs to God. Clothe yourselves with these good things but as you do remember that we can have the peace of Christ. It is ours for the taking.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
I hope that all those people whose fear caused them to choose selfishness will turn to this verse and listen to God. The scripture is so very clear. If we choose love we can turn away fear and act with compassion.
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The verse says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is also the most difficult to follow. By neighbor it means everyone. Not just the people we like but everyone! Not easy to do. There are so many people that for one reason or another I would rather not love but God calls me to do so.
I hope that God teaches me every day how to love those that are hard for me.
I really think this section of Romans says it all. We don’t need to add to it …just follow it.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[e] 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[f] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 1
God’s gift of love to us in Jesus does not separate us from those who are different. It unites us, in one loving embrace. We forget that when we believe we are God’s favorite, to the detriment of all others.
-Br. James Koester
Society of Saint John the Evangelist
How many Christian denominations want to believe that they are the chosen. That if we do not believe as they do we are not OK. We are the outcasts. Jesus spent lots of times with those who were outcasts. He did not discriminate. His love embraced everyone. Remember that.
Someone once said to my husband that Jesus was a conservative. My husband’s response was “he was so conservative that he got himself killed.” If we pay attention to the ministry of Christ he was radical. He went against the mores of his day in so many ways. He ate with tax collectors, acknowledged women, healed lepers and preached love for all humankind. If we could live as he did it would be a revolution. Prepare by pondering on this.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
If only we could live out these two commandments. How much is it to ask? There are no lists of do’s and don’ts just two simple statements. However, for us flawed humans they are the hardest things to do. If only the whole world could live this way!
When we become part of a group we often want to show people how important we are. We want to be important in everyone’s eyes. We want to be special and accepted. So we set out to do things that make us stand out. The part we forget is it is not those things that make other people see us. It is our caring and our sharing of ourselves and our possessions and our love that set us apart. We gain the respect and admiration of others by how we show our caring.
We have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves and it is in this way that we are granted affection and love in return.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
Psalm 85:8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.[a]
With war always looming on the horizon, I wish that the whole world would hear words of peace. We must make God very sad with all the hatred and violence that goes on in the world some of the worst of it in the name of God. Even his faithful people don’t hear his voice. None of us are exempt.
The Hebrew word shalom means fullness having everything you need to be happy and fulfilled. It’s easy to be peaceful when you have everything you need. That’s where the world’s problems are. Not everyone has what they need much less what they want.
Christ tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If I want my neighbor to be happy and fulfilled as much as I want that for myself then things will be good.
Frederick Buechner says “for Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”
Prayer: Lord God of peace, let us grow in love toward you and our neighbor until wars cease and shalom rains. Support us with your Holy Spirit and surround us with your love, now and forever. Amen