Greetings my friends! I have missed writing and my thoughts are filled with ideas, theories and random inquiries. In the past week I heard an inspiring sermon, questioned my living practices and participated in a lively conversation involving politics and religion. I realize I have just listed three very distinct things and it will be a tough task to bring them all together into a formidable story. I have never been one to keep things simple, as to concentrate on one thing at a time; hence, the three separate ideas swirling around in my mind, heart and soul.
Let me start with compassion, the sermon was actually called, “The Best Way, Love Is The Best Way.” *I will post it at the bottom for those who might be interested in viewing it. So, although compassion is not in the title, that was the feeling invoked within me after hearing the sermon. The scripture that was used is often referred to as the “Love Chapter” it is 1 Corinthians 13 and was written by Paul, the Apostle. The chapter covers the subject of “love.” In the original Greek, the word ἀγάπη agape is used throughout. Love is simple yet complex, I am fairly certain I have run the gamut of several degrees and depths of love in so much as life has afforded me so far. Love is fun, happy and life-giving. Love is painful, heart wrenching and grieving. Love is the best and worst all rolled into one. Love is more than caring and deeper than promises. I believe Paul, with the Holy Spirit leading him said it best: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or 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. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13
The Bible clearly and plainly tells us what love is and what it looks like, although I may have run the gamut, I am so far away from hitting the mark of the truest acts of love. I guess that’s the beauty of it as well, through God’s GRACE we are extended grace daily and are given new opportunities to love others and ourselves not just every single day but every single second of every day. I mentioned earlier that love can be painful, heart wrenching and grieving, but even in the midst of these feelings, love still exists. If it weren’t for love why would we bother to grieve at a loss(?). I’ve experienced the loss of a loved one and loss of relationships. Sometimes, they were situations I created and others I was on the receiving end of, but what I have learned is that death does not take love away, it redefines it! Broken relationships and even marriages end but it does not erase the love that was shared, sometimes life just changes and people grow in different directions. There does not need to be fault assigned to one side or the other, although it can and does happen. The love between friends doesn’t cease to be because miles separate you or the years go by and you live your life, all those heartfelt memories are forever embedded into your heart, even if you reconnect after 20 or 30 + years, the love remains. Love is much easier than hate! Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-40, “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.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
So the second thing I’ve been thinking about is “residency.” Metaphorically, speaking…where am I living my life? This question has been on my heart for some time now and hearing, “The Best Way” sermon brought it to the surface again. What I have learned over the past few years is that no matter what is in the past, you can’t go back and change it. We can choose to see things differently in the present and even envision the future but the past is an event set in stone, a picture preserved in time, something in the rear view mirror. It can help to inform you on your future decisions but remains unchanged in the past. Spend enough time to learn the lesson from the past and then move forward to living in the present. Being aware of the present and being present, in the present is a gift to yourself! Don’t spend so much of your time thinking about the future that you allow the present to pass you by. Plan for the future but live for today. There’s no promise of tomorrow, yesterday is in the past, the difference you can make can only be done in the present. Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
God! Without God, this is all meaningless. God is Love! 1 John 4:16, 19, “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:7-21, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
Thought provoking questions:
What is the risk in loving?
What is the risk in not loving?
What would Jesus do? WWJD
What political group/party would Jesus support?
What does compassion look like?
Where am I living?