Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.
We are told to love the Lord Our God with all our souls are all our hearts and all our minds. We are not told to prove that God exists. We are just told to love Him. Can we turn loose of all our trying to understand all of this and just love?
Prayer: God of love, help us learn to just love you with all that we are. Amen
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
My father always told me to not respond in anger to someone who is angry. Good advice but not so easy to follow. When someone is yelling at me about something it is very hard to keep my cool. I can feel my heart racing and my mind gearing up for battle. I’m ready to yell back. Yet very little is solved in anger. Most problems are resolved when everyone calms down.
Prayer: Gentle Jesus, help us to think of you and respond lovingly to someone who is angry. Amen
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
I Corinthians 13: 4-7
We hear this so often at weddings that I don’t think we really pay attention to it any more. But these are words to live by. How many times am I arrogant or rude or boastful? How many times do I insist on my own way? I need to wake up and smell the coffee. These words apply directly to me!
Prayer: Forgiving God, I am guilty of letting these words slide right by me. Help me to take them to heart and live by them. Amen
We are called to love one another. What exactly does this mean? It means to follow the example of Christ. The following quote sums it up.
[ Concerning Retaliation ] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;
Christ calls us to not respond in anger. He tells us to offer them the opportunity to hurt us again. We are responsible to control our inclination to anger and reprisal. Kindness is always the way. Kindness disarms. It can cause the other person to rethink. If it does then that is a good outcome. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. It will change something even if it is only us.
Today in church we heard the beatitudes from the gospel of Luke. They sound different than the ones in Matthew. I was particularly struck by verse 22. We have all suffered by being excluded, ignored, insulted. Exclusion hurts. It makes us feel “less than.” We have to remember that exclusion is something that humans do. God will never exclude us for any reason. God always includes.
Luke 6:20-26 New International Version (NIV)
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Today being all about love the most important description of it comes from 1 Corinthians 13. Nothing says it better.
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Hopefully we each have someone who loves us. Those who love forgive our mistakes and look beyond to the person beneath. God has promised that we are each loved this way by him. His love sees all that we are…warts and everything. We are each loved.
Too often we think about love as an emotion. When we love there are times when we do feel an emotion surrounding it but that is not all there is. Love is what we choose. Love is what we do. The emotion may not be forefront but the choice and the doing always are.
When something goes wrong in our lives we often either feel guilty if we see ourselves as responsible or we blame someone else. Neither position helps us. The only things that helps is to take the problem to God. If we are truly responsible then God will forgive us. If we hold anger or resentment God will help us to see that love is more important. No matter what…take it to God