Wednesday Wisdom 🙂
Inspiration this week comes from a variety of scriptures that draw on each other as we ponder how love is a mark of a Disciple of Jesus!
Deuteronomy 6: 5 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself…”
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied, ‘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. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'”
John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
We have a new head pastor at our church! Pastor Keith Strasburger and his wife Kristine joined our church family a little over a week ago. Keith and Kristine are known for their hearts for Jesus and a deep devotion to building relationships as they work to mentor disciples. They hale from Real Life Ministries in Idaho and, in a time span of less than two weeks, Nebraska has welcomed them with zero degrees, 70 and sunny, and most recently snow and ice. Perhaps it’s March on the prairie??!!
On his first Sunday preaching, Keith shared with us that we are not called to go to church, we are called to be the church. God created each one of us with a desire to be loved, valued, listened to, and to live with meaningful purpose. In order for this to happen, we must be the church as we live in love as described in the above scripture verses. I think it is very powerful to see how the Old Testament provides the foundation for what we are able to live out through Jesus’ teaching, discipleship, and sacrifice for us. The two commandments that create the basis for how we are asked to live as Christians can be traced back to the five books of Moses. God asked us to love Him, and to love each other.
God asked us to do it, and then Jesus came to show us how to get it done.
It’s hard to love genuinely. Genuine love requires a risk, a vulnerability, and an openness to others that takes courage. When we love as Jesus loves, we give others the power to hurt us. But, we also give them the power of Jesus. Spend a few minutes looking at how God defines love in 1 Corinthians 13. Then ask yourself some questions:
- Am I truly kind?
- Do I have an unending supply of patience with those that God brings into my life?
- Do I think of others more than I think of myself?
- Do I hold grudges?
- Do I celebrate others?
- Do I love the values that God loves?
- Do I love regardless of circumstance?
- Do I love with a hope that inspires belief?
I’d like to think that I do these things well, but the truth is that sometimes they are simply a goal that I fall short of. The better I walk with Jesus, the more that I find the courage and freedom to live this way. But, it challenges me daily. Proverbs 4:23 tells me to “Guard my heart above all else, for it determines the course of my life.” I don’t think that this means to guard my heart against others, rather, I think that God is asking me to do something very different.
God is asking me to anchor my heart to Him and to allow it to be broken, so that His love — the love that is described in 1 Corinthians — can determine the course of my life.
A few years ago, I started to pray asking God to allow me to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. I’m not sure that when I started praying this prayer that I really understood what I was asking. But, God kept putting it on my heart so I kept praying it. As God answered this prayer, he has allowed me to see parts and pieces of this world through a very different lens. Seeing these things breaks my heart, and it changes my life. It makes me cry, but more importantly it gives me the freedom to find a deep and meaningful purpose as I try to love as Christ loves.