Monday, January 7, 2019

True Love

Because of the holidays, our regular routine has radically changed. We've stayed up later, slept in longer, eaten too much, and missed mid-week church meetings. When we're only at church once a week, we feel like we're missing something. We miss people.

So now that we're back in the swing of things, I recounted post holiday conversations that happened following this morning's worship service and prayed for many different people: an older, single woman who is "getting by;" a young mother recovery from a long, misdiagnosed illness; a couple enduring chemo; a family anticipating the immigration of their son; a newly disclosed abuse situation of friends; young athletes gearing up for surgery, while others recover. So. many. friends. So. many. opportunities to pray and intercede for one another.
And as I thought of these dear friends and church family members, I realized how loving our local church body is. We can't truly love one another without listening and asking questions. If all I did was shoot off my mouth, tell my news, and listen to my own voice, I would miss so much! True love is listening. Listening is caring. Caring is praying. Praying leads to follow up, praising, helping, doing, calling, texting, encouraging. And it's happening throughout our church body. People intercede for one another, reach out for help, provide care, fellowship, encouragement, transportation and practical intervention.

As John, the disciple Jesus loved, said "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 John 3:18). John knew because John experienced Jesus' love firsthand. He understood that we do not naturally love or care for one another. Left to ourselves, we use information to wield power in the form of gossip or manipulation. But because of Jesus, we can listen and love freely. It's not up to me to fix other's difficulty. True love doesn't to get the "dirt" from other's lives or use a willingness to listen as a trip to share my own experience. We can only love sincerely, openly, and without strings attached because that's the way God loves us. He doesn't love us for what He can get. He doesn't love us for His benefit. He loves us for our benefit. He loves for what He can give and provide. He loves by giving His best when we are at our worst. And, because of Jesus, we can love others.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten 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 propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides 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. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 John 4:7-21)

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