Monday, May 23, 2011

“The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn is Just to Love”

I was reading Becoming the Answers to Our Prayers (a book my best friend Betsie let me borrow while she is in Thailand). In the book the authors were talking about the Fruit of the Spirit.  If you have grown up in “church”, like most people in the south have, you will probably know most if not all, the fruits of the Spirit. They are – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I thought it would be such a good learning and growing experience to really try to put them into practice. I started with “love” last Monday; I’m still working on love. I have read 1 Corinthians 13 almost everyday this week. And every time I read it I realize how little love I show. Verse five gets me every time. It says, "Love does not demand it's own way. It is not irritable.”  Love is sweet and all. But why can't I have it my way? I think my way is the best. But God said no, my way isn't the best. His way is. Still, being selfish can have a few perks.

In Radical, David Platt talks about reading 1 Corinthians and replacing the word love with your name.  For example: “Candace is patient and kind”, and so on. So you can imagine by the end of the chapter you feel pretty crappy. I think that’s the point. I sat there the first time after doing this seeing how much I need to change. So this has been my challenge for the week. I thought by today I would be doing pretty well at being loving. I was very delusional about that. If anything it has been harder this week than ever. Or maybe it just has seemed harder because I’ve been thinking about it. I really don’t know. So, after I realize how horrible I am at loving other I put God’s name instead of love. Really thinking about how God is truly love; and He loves me. Me, with all my imperfections. This should make me feel better, right? No. How can I ever thank God enough for really loving me? I realized I couldn’t. A couple of days after I had really been talking to God and reading in the Bible about love I talked to my best friend Betsie, and she told me that I had to learn how to truly love God before I could learn how to love other people. On the surface that seems easy, love God. But I’m learning that it isn’t as easy as I thought. “Love does not demand it's own way”. I don’t think people even know how much I argue with God. Yes, I admit it. I argue with the God that loves me so much and knows what’s best for me. I know it sounds bad, but I do…a good bit. Most of the time, after I have argued with God and He still hasn’t changed His mind, I give in and do whatever He asks me to do. But do I do it for the right reasons? Probably not. But in my reasoning I have still done it, just not in the most loving way. And still God loves me, and created me knowing that I would argue and sometimes go against him, but He still thinks I’m worth loving. And this summer God is asking me to go to Nicaragua to love on people in Christ’s name.
So, my goal isn’t to learn how to totally love God in a week or a month, but to love God more each and everyday. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of times when I fail. But if I truly try with everything in me, that is the only thing God cares about.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Proverbs 24:17-18

Up until now I have mostly kept my thoughts about war and the military to myself. But last night, after reading on Facebook that people were rejoicing over Osama Ben Laden’s death, I was really disturbed.  I have thought for sometime that war is wrong. I know many people say, “War is hell, but it is necessary”.  Others like my mom use the analogy of: “What if you knew what time someone was about to break into your house and kill you and your family, wouldn’t you meet them at the Simpson County line?” And if you dare to say yes you would meet them at the Simpson county line, she will tell you that is why people fight - to keep enemies out of our house.  Even though she has tried to raise me to think like this, it hasn’t worked.

When I was five and six my parents moved my siblings and me to Bosnia, a country that has seen war first hand. It wasn’t uncommon to see signs in school to be aware of landmines. And you dare not go off the road because you just might meet a landmine face to face. I still remember standing in the living room and looking out the window at the street where I saw a man in a wheelchair rolling himself down the street. I didn’t make the connection that he was the age of people who had fought in the war. I asked Cassie (my sister) about it; she made a comment about me being stupid or something like that for not realizing why this man had probably lost both his legs. After I realized this I hid under my bed and was terrified to come out because in that moment war had become more to me than people fighting for freedom. It had a face. I know every war is different. But the result is always the same – the loss of people on both sides and families torn apart.

Still people say war is necessary. Why? Well, I have heard people say freedom comes with a cost. I say it is too high of a cost. People say God told the Israelites to fight, He told them to wipe some cities out. But I think people don’t realize that Israel was God’s chosen people. Who said America is God’s chosen nation? (Many times when they would turn away from God, God let their enemies take them into captivity.) I understand there are some people that need to be stopped.  But sometimes, maybe if it was thought through, maybe it could be settle more peacefully. Maybe not.  But I believe it is absolutely wrong to rejoice at the death of others.

Even though Osama wasn’t a good person God still sent His son (Jesus). God offered Osama the gift of salvation, just like He offered salvation to me, you, and to everyone in the world both good and bad. Osama sadly chose not to accept God’s gift. But God still loved him.  God had a plan for Osama, but sadly he chose not to follow Christ. Osama sinned and fell very far from God’s plan.  He murdered, and he deserved death. But everyone does. Jesus tells us if we have thought in our heart about killing someone it the same as doing it.  I know thinking one murder is different from killing hundreds, but to God we have all sinned and fallen short.

Last night and this morning I have seen on Facebook where people say,  “I hope you have fun burning in hell with Hitler.”  And “God bless the troops who killed Osama.” Even though Osama wasn’t good and deserves this that doesn’t mean so called “Christians” should be rejoicing over this. I have wondered if “Christians” who can act like this are truly following Jesus? What did Jesus do when someone who came to arrest him and Peter cut off his ear? Jesus put it back on. Jesus could have told the guy, “You deserve to have your ear torn off.”  But He didn’t (Matthew 26:47-56). And we shouldn’t rejoice over this. And besides all this, do people not realize that now Osama’s follows are very angry and this is probably just the beginning?

Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble. 
For the Lord will be displeased with you, and will turn his anger away from them. 
Proverbs 24:17-18