Monday, May 7, 2012

What does love require of me?

The question Andy threw out in his sermon on Sunday is one that is haunting the halls of my heart. Reverberating off the walls and echoing in my mind.

"What does love require of me"?

Not a question that's easy. And yet it is one of the essentials if I am claiming to be his follower.
His point was this... The early church had no New Testament. They may have had part of Mark and some of Matthew. Some of the churches in Corinth may have had a couple of the letters Paul sent. But mostly they just knew that Jesus had called them to love.
And so they did. 
They were generous, and forgiving. They prayed for their persecutors. They loved each other. And because of this the church grew sometimes by the thousands every day.

How has church changed since then?
We could give our own story about church. Some negative. Some positive.
But I wonder... What does the world say of the church?
Are you part of the church?
Are we KNOWN by our love?
Or are we known by our beliefs?
Which may or may not be followed by action.
Which is harder?
Believing we should or doing it?
Love requires a lot more than belief does.

When I am supposed to believe something it often requires faith.
But really it's not hard for me to believe the commands.
I see why he gave us the "thou shalt not's".
When I break any one of these commands it hurts me and others.
But Jesus said... "This New command I give you... Love as I have loved you." John 13:34
Love is action.
It is a verb. Love requires Action and Deeds.

You see, when we filter our relationships through the eyes of hurt and offense it makes us respond differently.
When hurt if we start by asking the question... "What does love require of me here?" The response will look completely different.
When angry if my first response is..."What does love require of me?" I will most likely respond to that annoying person with a different spirit.
When betrayed, I must first ask... "What does love require of me?" If I return love for mistreatment I will indeed be on my way to following the one  I claim to follow.

I have far too often been guilty of fear.
I may fear another's sin. Like if I get too close they may rub off or if I don't somehow point out the sin they will think I condone the behavior. Maybe I'm afraid of being seen with someone because of reputation. Or I may fear another's wrath..Like if they yell at me I may get wounded so I back away and then... push it under the rug. Maybe I fear someones tongue so I keep them at arms length. Perhaps I fear the truth and I know they bring out the ugly in me.
And sometimes when the Spirit prompts me to confront in love I fear rejection so I avoid.
Fear. Self preservation. Discomfort.Guilt.Reputation. Ick!
Not love.
I John 4:18
 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (NIV)

When we love the way we have been called to love the fear subsides.
It doesn't matter what another does to us when we love the way Jesus intended his followers to love. It's a drawing love that leads people to a Savior.
This is what we need to transform the church, the nation, the world.

Who is it today for you?
Someone he has called you to love.
With a pure love. Not a superficial, I'll love you to your face, but behind your back I'll cut you to bits.
A love that only he can give.

I wrote this down on a sticky note so I can see it every day.
Today I ask...
"What does love require of me"?

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