Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Midweek Moment

Most of us love Jesus because someone allowed His love to love us through them. The biggest hindrance to the growth of God’s kingdom on earth is the failure of so-called Christians to allow the love of God to give them love for other people.
– Thomas Carruth

One of my daily routines is to read through an online forum where my colleagues post quotes from other theologians, scholars, and devotional books. It is a great way to be exposed to the thinking of others and allow ourselves to grow together in our faith. This morning I saw the above quote by Thomas Carruth and this was one of the points I was trying to make last week in our time together.

I realize I repeatedly talk about the importance of loving our neighbors. I know I use the phrase, “allow us to be a beacon of hope and light” with great frequency when I pray and when I preach. All of that is because of the importance of the message that Thomas Carruth is trying to make above.

We know all people, regardless of geography, are to be considered our neighbor. And as such, we are to love them. The best way, the most effective way, for people to experience the love of Christ is for them to feel that love through us. As we live our lives, go through our daily routines, speak and interact with others, we are actively building or hindering the growth of the Kingdom of God.

If we always use grace when we speak to others, we can build. If we always allow the love of Christ to be the force that dictates our thoughts and actions, we can build. If we are always mindful to be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we move through our days, we can build.

However, if we find ourselves quick to anger, quick to judge, quick to speak to others with a hostile tone and hurtful words, building cannot and will not happen. We are called, as Disciples of Christ, to be in this world and not of it. We are called to be set apart and live our lives according to God’s rule of grace and love. Now this does not mean will we never get angry and are some sort of marginal Christian if we do. It means that we strive to control those emotions, pray about those feelings, and not let them dictate how we treat others.

Think about it this way. I usually have several business cards on me. When I give one of them away, I want to make a good impression on the recipient. I smile, I say kind things, and I speak with an encouraging tone. As a representative of Druid Hills United Methodist, I want them to feel favorably about us during and after that interaction. If I throw that card at them, tell them they are “less than” if they do not come see us, talk only about the church and do let them share a bit of themselves with me, they will probably never grace our doors. It is the same for each of us as Disciples. We are Christ’s business cards. We are God’s ambassadors. But it is not only our interactions with others that speak for Jesus. It is the way we live our life, the examples we set, and the words we utter when we think no one is watching.

Loving others is not easy and I do not want you to think I am advocating that idea. Loving others, at all times and in all ways, is extremely difficult. But as you read the quote above the key words are “to allow the love of God to give them love for other people.” You are not commissioned and sent out alone. God will be by your side moment by moment.

I want to encourage you to find ways to allow that source of love to flow freely through you. Give up those feelings that block that flow, pray for strength to allow God’s love to be your guiding force, spend time focusing on the idea that you are the vessel not source.

Faith is a life long journey, allow God to speak to you, allow Christ to love you, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform you. That is the best way we can all strive towards sanctification and truly be God’s kingdom builders on Earth!

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

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