There’s Faith & Hope, and Then There’s Love

There’s Faith & Hope, and Then There’s Love

Faith and hope naturally go together, like a couple dating, but love gets left behind, like the odd man out.

It’s easy to keep faith and have hope. Love, however, is often simply forgotten. It gets left undone.

Image result for dc talk imagesI think this is because faith and hope are internal to each of us – they are pure beliefs or feelings. Love, however, as Christian rap trio DC Talk (Wiki link) says, Luv is a Verb.

“luv is a word that requires some action.”

I like the way the AMPC Bible translation describes the three:

1 Corinthians 13:13

Faith – conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things;

Hope – joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation;

Love – true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us.

It’s that last part I know I miss. Sure, I’m grateful to God for what He has done – for me. But extending that to others?

bear,love,fur,friendship,toy,teddy bearSelfishness is a default human setting, maybe? It’s an extra step to “give them (others) the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

“Giving comfort” is really all love is. And I know what that feels like because I’ve received it. A lot of it.

So all I need to do is imitate God, maybe?

Image result for greenwood village co imagesI can do this in some ways. As far as I know, I’ve never provided anything materially miraculous, but I’ve been gentle, kind, (mostly) faithful and considerate. (“Polite but sarcastic,” according to the Greenwood Village cop who booked me for OUI in ’96. And I held out my hand to shake, as if to thank him for busting me…)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes what love is and isn’t, and it all comes down to the attitudes I take towards people.

A few versions use a different word for it: Faith, Hope, and Charity.

 Love – unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me (AMP)

We have three things to do… trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. (MSG)

Does thinking of love in these “verb-ish” terms make it an easier thing to do? I’ll give it (and whoever I meet) a shot and let you know. word,christmas,art,drawing,chalk,handwriting

Images from PxHere.comCreative Commons Zero (CC0).

Christianity Is: “Not Me!”

Christianity Is: “Not Me!”

I’ve been on a movie-watching kick recently, particularly for action/adventure films. Two that I’ve seen in the past week or so are Schindler’s List, about World War II Poland (which I wrote about in The lords Of This Age) and No Escape, about a family of Westerners trapped in a coup in a third-world country. This is not a review of either film but their plots are the starting point for my thoughts – a blog prompt, if you will.

These stories show “the very darkest side of humanity,” which is how I wrote it in my journal. Schindler’s is based on a true story, and Escape claims to be fiction but looks an awful lot like the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge. (It compares well with The Killing Fields, which is based on a true story.)

As I took in the scenes of unspeakable violence (complete with ultra-modern special effects), a movie quote came to me. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Theoden King says, in the height of a losing battle,

“So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?”

Reckless hate. I checked the definition of ‘reckless:’ (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. These movies depict incidents of repulsive violence, a complete lack of care about people, places or things. And it didn’t matter how the actors came to take these actions. In the first, the Nazi party worked from within the “civilized” democratic system, being voted into power. In the other, rioting gave way to an overthrow – in all its raw, base nature – of the existing government. (‘Base:’ adjective, without moral principles, ignoble. Synonyms: mean, bad, wrong, evil.)

And that brings me to my main point. I hope you have heard of “us versus them” in social/societal interaction. We humans seek to belong to a group – any group – as an instinctual form of security and protection. People in our group are “us.” Anyone not in our group is a “them,” an opponent to be wary of, at best, or a blood enemy to be killed on sight, at worst.

I submit that, at its very heart, this actually stems from an attitude of “me versus the world,” and is the ultimate drive behind a wholly instinctual survival of the fittest. Furthermore, I say that this is, for a human being, a perspective of immaturity – but it has nothing to do with chronological age. It is childish in the extreme. It is seeing everything outside of myself and my little world as “Not Me,” and a rival.

As an example, I give scenario “the last two people on earth,” and the last bit of food. Result: they fight to the death over it.

Maturity is a change in this piece of our instinct-driven, animal nature.

When I was a child, I spoke… understood… thought as a child,
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11

Definition ‘mature:’ adjective, having reached an advanced stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult; (of thought or planning) careful and thorough.

Quite the opposite of reckless. In my own words, “an understanding that I/we are not alone in this existence, and not meant to be alone; that I/we need others and others need us.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 …Two are better than one … a cord of three strands is not easily broken.

I believe that we start our transition into maturity when we realize this need, and specifically when we encounter another human who needs our help, whether it be from a lack of ability or due to negative circumstances. For us, this being needed is a brand new experience. The perfect example is becoming a parent for the first time.

At that instant, we begin to change our use of the phrase, “Not me.”  Instead, it becomes, “Father, not me, but you (or another).”

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
Yet not my will, but yours.
Luke 22:42

Take that scenario of the last two people on earth, only make them related to each other, siblings or parent/child or married. Result: one will offer the other the food. In both movies, when it comes down to it, the main characters both show/display this attitude of giving and sacrifice or risking everything to save another.

Our Creator meant for us to strive for this conviction in how we live our lives. And Jesus is the ultimate example of living that out.

:13 This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing gratitude to God [The Creator] by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offering to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone.
:14 Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll [some, a few will] respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need.
2 Corinthians 9

Reckless hate is countered by passionate intercession.

When “Finding God” Is All That’s Left

You, Lord, are our Father. We are nothing but clay, but you are the potter who molds us.
Isaiah 64:8

Heavenly Father, Master Potter, you design each one of us and sculpt us from clay and dust into images of you, the likeness of Jesus Christ – but you give us a choice. The choice is a simple one: to accept that we are the product of your hands, skillfully made for specific purposes, for glorious reasons; or to see ourselves – not as beautiful reflections of you but as standalone originals, equals to you, gods in our own lives, in our own minds, with ambitions we decide and define for ourselves.

How we must disappoint you when we choose the latter!

But some of us are blessed to be given – to be suddenly struck by – the recognition of our origin, our place and means of manufacture, our humble beginnings, middles, and ends. For us, life ceases to be a struggle for survival (of the fittest). It is no longer a challenge and a competition to make something of ourselves – by ourselves – through our manipulations of others. Instead, life becomes a peaceful and joy-filled journey of adventure to see and experience every single thing and moment – even the frightful ones – and each and every companionable meeting of brothers and sisters that you have planned for us. On our years-long trips through your wondrous creation, we find opportunities to demonstrate our choice – not to build our own vain-glory, but to lift up, encourage, and shine your light to illuminate the paths of those trapped or lost in the darkness of despair.

What a treat to have such a cause as our motivation! To simply, humbly follow the clues and cues you have hidden, sometimes quite plainly, in this divine “scavenger” hunt, when “finding” you is all there is.

Lord, the work of “doing” within people is yours. Yes, we can boast slightly that it starts with what they see and hear and feel from us, those who believe and know just this much: that you are the Master Builder and we are of your workmanship.

God, we have a funeral today, to celebrate a broken but repaired jar of clay returning to your eternal workshop in glory.  We who remain here need to discover again your comfort and assurance. I pray for this.

In Jesus’ life-changing name, Amen.