Thursday, February 21, 2013

And the greatest of these is love...

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he instructs them in three of the attributes of the Christian life as follows: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love”.  The early followers of Jesus evidently took this counsel seriously as they were recognized by those outside the faith for their unconditional, supernatural, radical love which they clearly demonstrated in their daily lives.

When Jesus was confronted by one of the Pharisees with this question “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”, He responded “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  This directive obviously further substantiates the significance of love as a hallmark of a believer’s character.

The type of love the Christian is to have is what the Bible refers to as “agape” love.  It is the highest form of love described in the Word of God.  It is authentic.  It is God-like in its quality.  It is pure and selfless.  As with the early Christians, this love requires action, not emotion, and is to be worked out in our everyday lives.  What does that mean?  Relatively speaking, we are to treat people with kindness and respect, to think of others first and ourselves second.  The Bible says it this way, “Be ye kindly and affectionate one to another”.  We ought to strive to not be rude, crude, harsh or coarse with people as a rule, whether they deserve it or not.

It also means we are to forebear others and their preferences, shortcomings, or faults, or more appropriately, what we deem as their faults!  The scripture says, “In honor, preferring one another” rather than the “my way, or hit the highway” attitude which seems to predominate many of our churches today.  Think of what would happen in our churches, our businesses, and our homes if we truly exercised the biblical notion of love and put into practice what we say we believe!  We would treat people with the respect and the dignity they deserve as the image-bearers of God.  We would also understand that the desire to love this way would naturally energize us to actively serve.  As the Bible puts it “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”.  Real, true Christian love is much better demonstrated through action rather than in words!

Although it seems unattainable, in reality this kind of living is possible!  In fact, it is the very essence of the transformative power of the Gospel message through which it is accomplished.  By this transformation we deliberately seek to conform ourselves to a Christ-like spirit by which we let God live through us in our relationships to others.  As my Dad used to say, “As Jesus was leaving to go back to heaven, He said to His followers “Ye are the light of the world”.  When we truly seek to be “the light” we will have the power to love as God commands us to love.  And as Jesus’ followers, we are to carry on our commitment to love as He loved.  As we do we will realize that it is life changing for us and for those around us.
See ya Sunday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gun control?

Mainstream America almost seems to have exploded into a literal war since the tragedy of April 20, 2001, the day two teenaged boys released their pent-up fury on their fellow classmates at Columbine High School in Colorado.  The scenes of the horrific aftermath of that infamous event were repeatedly flashed across the screens of our TV’s and newspapers, perhaps because the sensational nature of this act was so bizarre most believed it was a “once in a lifetime” occurrence.  But since the infamous massacre which took place in the library of that school, like a bad recurring nightmare, the psyche of the American public has been wounded by a number of similar atrocities.  The most recent, and undoubtedly the most barbaric, was the horrific shooting of little children in Connecticut last month, an act so purely evil it left all Americans in utter shock and bewilderment.

Many today are on a quest to find the answers for the dilemma in which we find ourselves.  Our children need to be protected.  How have we come so far and where will this trend take us as a nation?  I would never pretend to know how to determine the emotional or psychological conditions which would impel a person to perform such a heinous act as these senseless killings, and I would be the first to admit something must be done, and quickly.

In an attempt to do something our political leadership has urged we adopt more laws regulating guns.  But our founding fathers saw to it that we as a free people had the right to own guns, and confirmed this right in the Second Amendment, which clearly states that we have the right to keep and bear arms.  Before eliminating a fundamental right, a right our forebears found critical enough to include in the founding document of this country, we need to deliberate rationally and reasonably.

Other nations, such as China, may not have the same potential concerns in their schools, but we must remember this is because they are not a free people.  The fact is, we do not know for certain any concerns the Chinese people confront on a daily basis because they do not have a free press, and it should be duly noted that they do not have the freedom of religion, either!!!  We are the exception in the world.  The high ideals expressed in the Constitution and which provide the foundational principles of our freedoms is what makes us the envy of the world.  I have been to China.  They don’t have guards with weapons and high fences to keep people out.  It’s to keep the citizens in.  I can guarantee you most Chinese would love to be as free as we Americans are.

We must also remember: Guns do not kill people, people kill people!  Americans have owned weapons for over 200 years, but until recently these types of events which we have witnessed were unheard of.  Evil needs to be punished, not law abiding citizens.  It is obvious that a cultural change is needed.  But perhaps, instead of believing we can accomplish this through removing our freedoms one by one, we would be better served to instruct our children with the moral precepts found in the Bible, rather than force-feeding them the idea they are nothing more than evolved monkeys and then expecting them to develop the type of character John Adams believed was necessary for this country to prosper, as evidenced by this quote:

 “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 

Maybe then we can get this country back on track.
See ya Sunday!