Moments with Jesus – 07/28/2020

From: Wendy Beard

 

Hello, Everyone!  I am writing this as I sit in sunny Corolla, North Carolina.  My family and I have been fortunate enough to get away for a week of rest and relaxation.  What a blessing!

I love the peace and quiet of being able to get away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Many of us have been unusually blessed in having time to do more of that in the last four months.  I pray that we have used this time well, according to the plan God has for each one of us.

For me, my life has taken an unusual turn.  I am a Bible student when it comes to my quiet time with the Lord.   Yes, I take time to pray, but typically, most of my time is spent weeding through the language of verses, reading study notes, reaching out to other sources to understand the depths of the words before me.  That is my nature; to dig into the depths of knowing about God.

But for the past four months I have found myself using my time with God more and more just praying and meditating on who God is, getting to know Him instead of getting to know more about Him.  There is a difference.  Admittedly, I felt a nudge to do this a few months ago when Corinne shared in our staff meeting a devotional about legalism.  I knew what legalism was, but from that devotional, I realized that I was heading into that with all my head knowledge about God.  I was trying to define God as I would a word in the dictionary, in clear black and white text without any gray areas.

And, if you have read your Bible you know that is virtually impossible!  There are so many areas where God leaves the gray right out in the open… there is no clear black and white.  It is up to us to make the right choice when God does not necessarily define what is “right.”  He leaves it up to us.

So, what is our guide in all of this?  This is where understanding who God is comes into play.  And here I pay homage to our dear Karon Wolf-Brosey.  She has long stood on the fact that everything we do has to start with love, and she lives that out whole-heartedly because she understands above all else the truth of the statement that God is love.  While we may all know that and have that as part of our vernacular when we share with others about who God is, there is a passage of scripture that has challenged me in the past few weeks, and not once but a number of times in the reading and podcast listening that I have been doing.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”  (1 John 4:7-12)

Stop.  Read those words again.  Please let them truly sink into your heart.  Notice I said heart and not mind because this is absolutely a heart matter and not a mental exercise.

Francis Chan in his book, “Letters to the Church”, says about this passage: “Did you catch that?  Right there is a promise that if we love one another, God will abide in us and His love will be perfected in us.  Is there anything in the world you want more than that?  We don’t live like this statement is true.  And that breaks my heart, because there is also a serious warning in this passage that those who don’t love don’t know God.  What does this say about our churches?  The importance of loving one another is emphasized all throughout Scripture (Rom. 12:9-10; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Pet 4:8, etc.), and I can’t help feeling as if we’re missing out on something extraordinary because of our lack of love.”  Chan points out the promises here, but he also addresses something else, the words of 1 John that may be hard for us to swallow: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

What we need to understand is that our love for others needs to be a manifestation of the way God loves us, a love that is described by Paul in Ephesians 3:17-19 as: “. . . so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  God’s love is a love that surpasses knowledge; it is beyond our comprehension.  It is boundless and immeasurable, and as it is evident in everything He does, as followers of Christ, it should also be evident in the way we live and love.

When was the last time you loved others like God loves you?  Yes, you may feel that way about your spouse, your children, your parents or people who are so close to you as friends that they are like family.  But, while that is all well and good, that is not the entirety of what God is calling us to do.  It is easy to love those you think of as your people.  But as people who love God, as people of His Church, as people who have been given the promise that God will abide in us if we love, and I mean full-out, “no holds barred” love, each other, our love should shock a world that has no idea what this kind of love is.

Let me be clear . . . this love takes us being vulnerable, to have a willingness to step into what may be uncomfortable and unknown and which has the potential to get messy.  But remember, we know the source of this kind of love, and He is right there alongside of us to walk through and guide us in whatever we step into.  And if we all step into loving like this as individuals and as a church, think about the Light we would be to the people and communities around us!!!  My heart smiles at the thought of that!

My dear church family, I pray that as you have read these words, the love of God has been impressed upon your heart.  His is a love so deep and precious in spite of all of our faults and failures.  And all He asks us to do is go out into the world – the communities, workplaces, schools and churches – He has placed us in, and love all of those around us as He loves us.  May how we love others speak volumes about who we are in Christ!

Love to you all,

Wendy