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#greatestlovestory

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Love.  Most people’s thoughts on love sort of irk me. (I know that sounds ornery, but hear me out)  It would seem that we’ve come to base our belief about love on two major ideas; shows like the Bachelor (Again ornery, I am probably the only female on the planet who refuses to watch that show, but be my friend and hang on) and our feelings.  This should concern you because this lack of knowledge is destroying marriages, families, churches and communities.  Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that Christian love is different from worldly love.

If we are to become more and more like Jesus, who is the exact imprint of God, and less like our old nature, then 1 Corinthians 13 serves us well in that journey.  This passage might seem so common to some that it feels almost breezy.  But when we attempt to put these ideas into practice, it is anything but breezy.  In fact, this kind of love leads to a peculiar kind of death.  John 3:16 makes clear the death this kind of love demands.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son…” This Holy love led a divine man to endure the ultimate suffering for the sake of others.  The suffering of Christ tore the veil and the love of God was no longer hidden. We meet this great love at the brutal cross.   The cross represents the self-sacrificing point at which Jesus laid everything down in bloody horror for our sake and here we are invited into community with him.  To enter his death is to enter his love. We will find no greater friendship than that of Jesus, but that friendship came at a cost.  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I am sure that Jesus didn’t feel like loving us as he hung in agony while so many he came to save mocked and denied him.  But he made the choice to stay and love us into community with him.  And that is the greatest love story ever told.   I don’t see that kind of depth in the popular love of the day that is self-serving rather than self-sacrificing.

If we identify with Christ, then we cannot stop at simply receiving this love and move on unchanged.  Christ’s love begins a sanctifying work in our hearts and beckons us to begin to love others in the same way. The 1 Corinthians call to love is one that consistently dies to self for the sake of another.  This kind of love is patient when wronged, it is kind when insulted.  This kind of love celebrates another, instead of seeking attention for itself.  This love causes one to lay down his rights and standards for the benefit of another.   It’s a love that might not always “feel” easy but we love out of obedience despite the difficulty.

Jesus brought a paradigm shift to a very homogenous religion and taught that God’s love is so intense, so passionate, so consuming that it was never intended to be contained within one people but was meant to move through His people to transform the world.  The plan was for his love to reach every tribe, nation and tongue.  The plan was that His love would transcend all cultures, social class systems, and political associations.  That plan is still in place and it is this great love that is advancing His Kingdom.   Love is a powerful weapon but it is also a choice.  We can choose to love freely and wildly and allow that love to build God’s Kingdom or we can be stingy with our love by only loving those who agree with us or those who look like us and build our own kingdoms.  God gives you the choice.  But one of those kingdoms will crumble and one will remain.  What kingdom will your love build?  Let’s challenge each other to build wisely.

Blessings,

Tracy

Posted by Tracy Edwards with 0 Comments

You Are What You Eat

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Which would you rather have – a glass of milk or Filet Mignon? As adults, we’d most likely prefer the steak, but as children we would probably answer this question much differently, as our needs change throughout our life. And they should.

We all know what infants need in the early days of life – milk. It provides all that we need for a time, but eventually (actually quite rapidly) we outgrow our desire for milk. Our bodies need something more and we are ready for that something more. We begin to taste and experience new flavors and textures. We begin to long for it and as we become more fully aware of ourselves, we find we crave particular forms of nourishment.

This is true of our spiritual life as well. We first encounter Christ and receive his spirit as our own, but we aren’t ready for the depths of the mind of God. We drink milk (short stories, illustrations and foundational scripture). It tastes good, and it gives us what we need to grow in those early days. But eventually, we need something with more substance. We need more to help us grow into a fuller spiritual person in Christ, a person of maturity.
What has your journey been like? How would you categorize yourself – a spiritual person who readily receives and values biblical truth or an infant in Christ, drinking bottle after bottle of watery milk?

The Spiritual person, eats full meals of steak and potatoes.  You recognize there is somethings missing, an emptiness that can only be filled with humble yet solid food.You are sinking deeply into the sweet aroma of a satisfying friendship with your Lord and Savior.

For the newly formed Spirit, you start at the beginning, yes, with milk. Embrace this time. It’s all new and you have lots of questions and it seems there is so much to know. But enjoy, it will prepare you for God’s plan for your growing up years.

But Paul points out rather vividly in 1 Corinthians 3 for the one who is downing glass after glass for years, arguing over selfish preferences with prideful hearts, following after men instead of the Creator, beware – this is dangerous business. We may think ourselves as righteous, but there is a drifting that occurs of which we may not be aware. John Piper cautions, “Don’t drift – the current of the world will carry you away.”

For those that are Spiritually mature, be patient, encouraging, and give others what they can swallow, sometimes with a little help.

I can only speak for myself, but I’d prefer rich, flavorful food over milk any day. The small pieces of scripture and stories I learned as a child just aren’t enough. There is so much more to this knowing about God and knowing myself. And I only get to know if I dare to open my mouth and taste.

There is a banquet set for us, loaded with the best, God’s best. There is bread and there is wine, the message of Christ, crucified. It is this table that prepares us for the crucified life that leads to the fullness of the most satisfying meal.

If you want, you can taste it now. Are you hungry?

(In reference to 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 and commentary by John Piper)

Posted by Janna Lynas with 0 Comments

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