Monday, May 22, 2017

You Can't Put Love on Cruise Control

I attended Holy Cross Church yesterday and was blessed in several ways, besides being able to worship and praise God for His many graces and blessings to me.

First of all the East Indian pastor was congratulated and applauded because this last week, he became a U.S. citizen. He had been the pastor of this church for two years and he expressed his gratitude and love to the congregation because they loved him even before he became a citizen. We sang "America. America. God shed His grace on thee, and crowned thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea." Oh, that we natural born Americans truly had the gratitude of living and appreciating this great land as those who were deprived and marginalized and now know freedom and liberty.

The pastor went on to give a beautiful message about loving to the nth degree -- on purpose. He told this story:

"A very astute businessman, as well as a loving and devoted husband, wanted to be absolutely sure he wasn't one of those guys that forgot his wife's birthday or anniversary. So, he made a deal with the florist to ALWAYS send his wife flowers on her birthday AND their anniversary, without fail. The card with the flowers always said, "With all my love, your loving husband". Year after year, she felt so loved and remembered by her husband. Then, on one of the occasions, the husband came home, saw the flowers and said, "Nice flowers. Who are they from?" Ouch! He got caught. The pastor said, "You can't put love on cruise control or auto pilot! Love is on purpose. Love is being present. John 13:35 says "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

How do we measure up? Do others know that we're a disciple by the way we talk the "love talk" and walk the "love walk"?

Here's a love test to know we're loving disciples....or not! Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and it not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own way, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

If we combine 1 Corinthians 13 and John 13, what would our lives look like? How would people come to recognize Christians? Well, they would know us by our patience. They would know that we are Christians by our contentment, modesty, and humility. They would recognize us, for we would not be rude. We would seek the best for others, be difficult to make angry, and refuse to keep count of how many times we've been hurt. They would know us because evil makes us sad, and truth makes us happy. They would know us because we protect the defenseless and we do not live in suspicion of others. They would know us by our hope. They would know us by our perseverance. That is what love looks like. Those should be the marks of Christ’s disciples.

It's our responsibility to change what the world thinks of Christians. It’s our responsibility to demonstrate that radical love St. Paul described to the Corinthians. Because then, one by one, people might start to know Jesus a little better. Because then, one by one, we could really reach the world with this radical, biblical, Christ-like love.