Category Archives: unity

PROVE IT (If You Love Me)

Matthew 4:1
And the tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell the stones to become bread.”

So, you are wondering what this scripture has to do with love. It struck me what Satan was really saying to Jesus is, “Prove it.” That what these temptations were about.

The last time I studied this scripture, I heard a voice in my head imitating a teenage boy saying to a girl (or the other way around), “If you love me, prove it. Do just these things for or with me, and I will know you love me.”

1st Corinthians 13: 4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t read anything about ‘prove it’ there.

It seems strange to me that when I love someone I am always seeking ways to show – to prove – that I love that person. But at the same time, I don’t ask the people who love me for continual proof that they love me. If I insist people express their love by acting certain ways or expressing certain thoughts, I am insecure in myself or the love of the other person. It’s a symptom of immature (and self- centered) self-love.

Christ was always looking for ways to show his love. Contrary to what many of us think, He doesn’t demand certain words from us before he believes we love him. He doesn’t demand certain rituals for us to show our love. What he does ask is for us to be on the outlook for ways to show our love for Christ to other people. Now isn’t that backwards?

So the actions required of us to show our love is for the other person’s benefit. Why do we feel compelled act certain ways or follow certain rituals and speak certain ways?

I think that part of showing our love is about reminding ourselves who we love and what that love requires of us in terms of commitment. How we act and the words we use are the ones that are meaningful to us.

We are often drawn to love people who use the same words and find meaning in the same symbols we do, but we cannot expect some one else to express their love for us the very same way we express our love.

But just try to imagine the rich relationships we would miss out on if we thought love and devotion could be expressed in just one way. When we spend our lives accepting the love of only people who act in our preconceived ways and use only approved phrases, we lose that richness and cheat other people out of a chance express love and let ability to feel and express love.

Finally, when we try to control how everyone else’s love is supposed to look, we only make our own hearts hard because we are continually disappointed, and we have missed the happiness that is the byproduct of allowing people to love us.

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Compassion

God, I drove through what some cities call ‘the district,’

And saw the homeless, the down and out, the dirty,

Standing in doors of bars and cafes, looking out at something I couldn’t see.

And I thought to myself

These are your creations too

You love them as you love me.

When I drove through the rougher neighborhoods

With their little kept houses, motorcycles and souped up cars,

Where people drink and fight at home.

And I thought with an ache in my heart,

God, these are your people too.

As your church we – I – need to be reaching them.

As I walk through my territory

I look at the streets, apartment complexes,

Small homes … family places.

And I think to myself,

Here, too, they love and fight, sometimes in quiet desperation;

Many not knowing they too are your people.

Give me wisdom to know how to put love into action,

To what groups to give financial support,

In what causes to get involved.

I cannot reach everyone personally,

But I can give out pieces of your living Spirit

To anyone, everyone, with whom I come in contact.

Help me not to withdraw into my business like a shell,

When dealing with those different than I,

But always share your warmth and acceptance.

God’s All

I’m frustrated
When I try to get beyond the ‘we’re all the same in God’s sight” cop out,
And the word-service given to the philosophical acknowledgement of
Galatians chapter three verse twenty-seven’s resounding ALL.

I’m afraid we still think in terms of God approving and disapproving of everything,
And we assume we need to think in those terms.
But are we sure we have to hold opinions on everything,
And approve or disapprove of every thought, person and belief?

God’s ALL is not about approval and disapproval,
It’s about the worth of people.
And when we (Humans, not God) want to make ourselves look better,
We first make our detractors look unworthy.

People have been degrading others since the first person accepted slavery as an institution,
Since politics became a profession, since success or society’s approval, or wealth
Became the measurement of a person’s worth.
And it has seeped into the church and Christian’s attitudes between denominations and believers.

Competition seeps in and we resort to proving ourselves worthy and the ‘other’ not.
We tear down effectiveness; analyze to death with emphasis on the negative;
And apply what is no longer acceptable in today’s society to yesterday’s actions.
We try to prove worthy or unworthiness through approval or disapproval.

But God’s ALL is not about approval.
ALL who believe are worthy;
ALL have the same value.
All can become believers and be redeemed.

And as such, ALL enjoy God’s love.
With our actions we judge who God will find acceptable.
We make lists of what we agree and disagree with, approve and disapprove of
And forget God’s disapproval does not negate worthiness; it reflects our actions.

But when it comes down to politics – church or otherwise – ,
Denominational or personal survival, or establishing reputations in life or business,
God’s love goes out the window; we draw lines
And we fall back into the trap of approving/disapproving and attacking worthiness.

God, help us let You redeem our scornful natures.
Help us find the place to stand when we have disagreements of belief and ideas
Without degrading our opposition,
Without assuming our disapproval cancels Your (God’s) ALL.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27

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