Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30 – Love, quirks, and hang-ups

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.  (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13  NKJV)

God connects our love for each other with being blameless and holy.  Love sounds like such an easy and comfortable thing to do, and we usually like to imagine that we are all loving and good people.  But loving each other in our churches, with all our differences and insecurities and quirks and hang-ups is not an easy or comfortable thing to do.  In fact, it can be a downright sacrifice.  But this is so that God can establish our hearts as blameless in holiness.

CS Lewis wrote a funny, but very true scenario in Screwtape Letters, describing how a demon ought to encourage a person to view his fellow Christians when he gets to church.  “When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neightbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces on the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father Below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.”

The devil counts on us to be “fools,” who can’t see beyond each other’s quirks and never learn to love selflessly.  I know for a fact that churches are full of people who truly need good friends of the same faith to encourage and lift them up, but somehow when they have the chance to do so, the devil finds ways to create rifts and suspicions.  That is why the command given by God in the book of Exodus, and then repeated by Jesus in the Gospels to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is so powerful.  When the people of God are united in one faith and in one goal to fight evil and honor God, they are unstoppable.  When they are divided by petty differences, they remain weak.

Make the sacrifice to love each other, pray for each other, overlook each other’s flaws.  The Bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  It may feel awkward, rub you the wrong way at times and perhaps even wound your ego, but it’s good for us all.  It’s a process that God has chosen to purify each one of us as we grow closer to Him and prepare for His coming.  We all want to be loved despite our own flaws, so who are we to withhold love from others who are just as flawed as we are? 

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