08.29.2013 "BECAUSE He first Loved US!"

1 John 4:19-21 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

The passage today is short and straight to the point.  It cuts to the chase.  It does not beat around the bush.   You cannot love GOD without also loving everyone else.   Our FATHER is the architect of love and the source of its great power.   If we accept and receive GOD’s love even though there are times of extreme challenge we will yield to that great power, the power of love, HIS love.

How many times a day are we challenged by these verses?   Seven?   Seven times seven?  I’m sorry LORD but there are a great many of your creations out there that just aren’t lovable.  In fact they are downright mean and ornery.  They lie.  They steal.  They manipulate and take advantage.   They hurt me LORD and these are my friends and relatives.  If those I care about challenge and stretch me how am I supposed to love the crack head that breaks into my home and violates all I thought to be safe and secure?

This just all seems impossible right?  It is most definitely impossible for us to turn the other check to the brokenness of everything around us.   How can we?  We are human and it just isn’t natural for us.  But while these verses are talking to us, they are not talking about us.  These verses are talking about the power of love.   Think about the power of love.   Of all the songs and tunes every written without question the overwhelming majority are about love, not because it simplifies everything and makes life easy, but because it is so powerful.

I could not help but think of the lyrics to this popular song:

The power of love is a curious thing Make a one man weep, make another man sing Make a bad one good make a wrong one right Power of love that keeps you home at night

Indeed love is powerful.  But I don’t believe today’s passage is issuing a challenge to us.  It is confirming that through GOD all things are possible even loving those that anger, disappoint, and hurt us.  Our GOD is powerful enough to handle this if we focus on him and his love for us.  Think of HIS love HIS power not ours.   If we were beaten and hung to the cross yet had the power of GOD would we have loved deeply enough to refuse to use that power against those responsible?   HE did that for us.  HE can do this too.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington” and event that brought thousands of people of all ethnicities together in response to a call to action.  Instead of fighting and arguing, strangers locked arms prayed and sang songs.   They came together that day to deal with a national crisis grounded in violence, bitterness, hatred, brokenness.   But this event tuned into an historic example of brotherly love.   Imagine that.  After all the strife, pain, and suffering (and there would be much more to endure) ultimately love was the answer.   And we know that through HIM, love changes everything.

Heavenly Father when it starts to happen today, when I am challenged by nature to be angry and strike back, too see a need and ignore it, to take a kindness for granted, to make it all about me, please LORD redirect my attention to the cross and to your sacrifice for me.  I know I am blessed by YOUR love.  Give me the strength and courage to act like.  In CHRIST name I pray. Amen.

Jim L.