God has blessed me with a network of friends and I am thankful for each one! Some I only ‘see’ on Facebook or in texts. Others are part of daily life. To hear “I love you” not in a romantic setting, but in a friendship, is a rich gift. I hope you know both the giving and receiving! When we share a cup of coffee and our stories, when we enjoy dinner together and linger at the table, we experience one of humanity’s greatest joys.
Ah, yes, friendships require work, demand maintenance and investment of time. The return on investment is the discovery of what it really means to love and be loved! Oh yes, it creates the possibility of being hurt, too, but that’s for another day’s thought.
Made in the image of God, we are made for life together. He exists in a Holy Trinity of perpetual relationship; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, together. We, too, need others. I know I have beat this drum for a few days now. It because I feel a certain urgency about it as I see virtual ‘relationships’ replacing real human interaction on an accelerating pace in this era. They are not the same! We need real ‘flesh and blood’ people in our lives and we need to teach our children how to make and sustain interdependent relationships that will make them more healthy – emotionally and spiritually.
The Psalmist praises the Almighty because He “sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6, NIV) Amazing things are accomplished when people cooperate for mutual benefit. Where love exists, life becomes beautiful. One of the reasons that the early Church grew so quickly was that their gatherings were more than sterile ‘meetings.’ They were weekly celebrations of God’s love which spilled into the lives of Believers, creating cooperation and belonging. That is no less important for us 2 millennia later!
Our worship gatherings which are often focused primarily on the vertical relationship with God, must recapture the importance of loving people, becoming celebrations when we know that we belong to a family, not of shared DNA, but of a shared spiritual heritage!
The Word calls on us to “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV) How do we encourage one another? “Keep on loving each other as brothers.” (Hebrews 13:1, NIV) Christians are called to ” live a life of love,” not the cheap, erotic, selfish kind of ‘love’ that replaces real love, but a love modeled after “Christ (who) loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, NIV)
In a world of competition, these words may seem naïve, an impossible dream. However, what I know is that I love because He loved me first. Our salvation results from His love and the Spirit will, when we allow Him, teach us to love. It demands sacrifice of us. Love is not cheap! However, when we give love, we will find it.
Let us renew our understanding that it is love that is the mark of the Christian; not orthodoxy, not holiness, not esoteric spiritual experiences. Yes, we need sound doctrine, we must live holy lives, and our hearts will overflow when the Spirit comes, but those things will ebb and flow, and eventually die, but there are only “three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)
One of the Bible’s best love stories is found in Luke 15, Jesus’ story about an awful son and a loving father! The son was a selfish, foolish, and sinful man. He thought he had lost his place in the family forever, yet in desperation he went back home. He found a waiting father who longed for the return of his wayward son. This is God’s story about you and me. We stole our inheritance, used the gift of life for our own purposes, but if we will go home, He’s waiting with forgiveness, renewal, and a whole new way to live. Don’t be fooled by the lies of self-expression that insist that your best life is found in preservation of Self. Love is the best way to live – fully, joyously, and with Heaven in your heart.
Some Glorious Day comes, our Father will call – “Come to Dinner!” We will all sit down to the table of His great family. Our word from the Word comes from John’s Revelation. May they inspire us to pray for and practice living in love now so that we are ‘at home’ at that Eternal Feast, when the Kingdom comes.
“Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:5-9, NIV)
(An old hymn that will move you to love!)
Oh love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
give You back this life I owe
And in Your ocean depths its flow
May richer fuller be
Oh light that follows all my way
I yield my flickering torch to Thee
And my heart restores it’s borrowed ray
And in Your sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter fairer be
Oh joy that seeks me through the pain
I cannot close my heart to Thee
I chase the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be
Oh cross that lifts up my head
I dare not ask to fly from Thee
I lay in dust life’s glory dead
And from the ground their blossoms red
Life that shall endless be
Public Domain George Matheson