Categories
love

Your Place in the Family Is Secure

God doesn’t love like people love…

My parents loved me. I knew they loved me. But on a few occasions, I would be disobedient. Or do something I knew would displease my parents. Sometimes, I would wonder if they would stop loving me.

Anytime I questioned their love—even in the slightest way—their response was always the same: “You don’t have to worry, little girl. Your place is secure.” Deep down I knew it. Still, the reassurance didn’t hurt. My place in the family was secure.

Our parents may or may not be good at making us feel secure in their love. Our spouses, our children, our friends may or may not be good at making us feel secure in their love. People are sometimes fickle and sometimes love temporarily or conditionally.

Thankfully, God doesn’t love like people love. God will never…NEVER…stop loving us. Through our failures, through our mistakes, through our sin, in spite of our bad decisions, our heavenly Father will ALWAYS love us.

Let’s slow-read Romans 8:35:

“Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers, and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love.”

Do you hear the words used to describe God’s love for you? Endless love. Undiminished love. Omnipotent love. Nothing can separate us from God’s eternal, steadfast, powerful, outrageous love.

Friend, our place is secure. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing we do, nothing we experience, nothing that comes against us can cause God to stop loving us. It’s just plain impossible.

So, relax. Take a deep breath and breathe it out slowly. We are held safely in God’s hand. We hold a place of honor in God’s heart. We are now, and always will be, deeply loved.

Dear God, thank you so much for your outrageous love. It fills me and surrounds me. Help me to love you and love other people with my whole heart. Help me live a life that brings glory to you. And when I mess up—and I will—remind me that absolutely nothing will stop your love for me. Remind me that my place is secure. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
love

Who Is My Neighbor?

“Finally, another man, a Samaritan, came upon the bleeding man and was moved with tender compassion for him.” (Luke 10:33)

In Luke, chapter 10, Jesus and a Jewish religious scholar discussed the greatest commandment, summing it up in just a few words: “Love God. Love your neighbor.” Sounds simple, but the religious fellow wanted to give himself an out. He wanted a clear definition of who qualified as a neighbor. Who do I have to help? Who do I have to love? Who can I ignore?

Jesus answered the question with a compelling story about what it means to love our neighbor. We call it the story of the Good Samaritan. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s in Luke 10:25-37.

A Jewish man traveling the road to Jericho was attacked by robbers and left half dead. Over time, a Jewish priest and a Jewish Levite both walked by, saw the man, and did nothing to help him. But a repulsive Samaritan, despised by the Jews, saw the Jewish man near death on the side of the road. He had tender compassion for him and greatly inconvenienced himself to save the Jewish man.

Jesus closed the story by asking a question: Which of the three men who saw the wounded man proved to be the true neighbor?

See, the Jewish expert wanted to know who he had to consider his neighbor and who he could justifiably overlook. Jesus gave an example of a Samaritan, detested by the Jews, who showed compassion to a Jew. If the Samaritan treated the Jewish man with compassion, the Jew should treat even a Samaritan with compassion.

So, who is our neighbor? We may think of a neighbor as someone who lives in our neighborhood. Actually, anyone we encounter on our journey through life who needs our compassion, encouragement, or care is our neighbor. Our neighbor doesn’t have to be a Christian. He doesn’t have to agree with our politics. He can have his life in perfect order or in complete disarray. We reach out to people right where they are, just as they are.

The Samaritan met the need of the injured Jew right where he was, on the Jericho Road. Jesus also met people where they were—Peter at the Sea of Galilee and the Samaritan woman at the well.

We follow the example of Jesus. We meet people where they are. They don’t have to meet our criteria or measure up to our standards. Everyone deserves our compassion, encouragement, and care regardless of who they are or what they’ve done.

Martin Luther King Jr. talked about the dangers of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho: “It’s possible the priest and the Levite wondered if the robbers were still around. And so, the first question they asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But then the Good Samaritan came by and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”

At the heart of our faith is the command to love God and love our neighbors. As we daily live out this command, our question should not be, “If I help my neighbor, what will happen to me?” Our question must be, “What will happen to my neighbor if I don’t?”

Dear God, help me to see people through your eyes. Teach me to be a good neighbor. Give me grace to show compassion, encouragement, and care to those I meet on my journey. Let me show your love to everyone—literally, everyone. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
love

Minister of Reconciliation

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

We were all estranged from God at some point in our lives. We did things that hurt him and offended him. But while we were in that estranged and sinful state, Jesus came to earth and died for us so we could be reconciled to him. To reconcile means, “to restore friendly relations between.” God, out of love, did what had to be done—what we could not do for ourselves—to restore friendly relations between us and him.

The magnitude of the love that saved us is beyond our imaginations. We couldn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it. But God is relational. He actually IS love. So he sacrificed for us. He paid the price for us. He forgave us.

Now that we’ve been extravagantly loved and generously reconciled, he has placed us in the Ministry of Reconciliation. England has a Ministry of Defense, a Ministry of Housing, and a Ministry of Justice. God has a Ministry of Reconciliation. And we all have been appointed to a position there.

We are to reconcile ourselves to others, point people to reconciliation with God, and help other people be reconciled with each other. “Minister of Reconciliation”—that’s our calling. That’s our job. Every one of us.

A Minister of Reconciliation has this job description: Love God. Love people. Every person. All the time. That’s it. That’s why we’re here. You want to know what your purpose is? It’s simple: Love God. Love people. Every person. All the time. Making a living, the work you do at church, raising your family? That’s all just settings and vehicles to love God and love people—every person, all the time.

Our job on this earth is to share love with others, to be more and more loving every day, because God is love and we’re in the process of becoming more and more like God.

Here’s a word from Ephesians 5:1, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

If we want to sum up what it means to be a Minister of Reconciliation, it’s right there in Ephesians 5:1. Not cautious love, but extravagant. Not to get something from someone, but to give everything to others. It says that, mostly, what God does is love us. Mostly, what we should be doing is loving God and loving others, with a generous, brave, God-given love. Every person. Every day. With everything we have.

Father God, your love is absolutely incredible. I can hardly fathom it. When I couldn’t help myself, your love pursued me and rescued me. I love you, Lord. Continuously fill my heart with your love so I can give it away to others. Let me be your ambassador and an enthusiastic minister of reconciliation. In Jesus’s name, amen.