We have 2 significant things going on this weekend & I hope you’ll join us for both. Our annual all-church picnic & beach baptism is this Sunday @5pm in Redington Shores. Please come & share a meal with your church family & lend some support for those being baptized. On Sunday morning we will be concluding our, “If We Have Not Love” sermon series with a message entitled, “Love Never Fails”, so make sure you’re there for that along with some amazing worship, holy communion, as well as fellowship & ministry with one another. As we wrap up the Love series I thought I might just give a brief re-cap of who, as followers of Jesus, we are called/required to love:
1) Love God: ok, this is pretty much a given, sort of like Christianity 101. This might be really easy for some & yet difficult for those who have been told God is different than who He really is or feels He is responsible for something he actually didn’t do (“God Why did you take away ______ or let this happen?”). That’s why good theology of who God really is is so important & why we spend so much time on it.
2) Love your neighbor: this too is pretty basic but the twist Jesus presented to us in his teaching on this subject in the story of the Good Samaritan is that our neighbor isn’t just limited to the people of our immediate community, who share the same skin color, religion, politics, ideology, & worldview as you & me but Kingdom Love extends beyond borders & social/religious norms.
3) Love yourself: if we’re called to love our neighbor as ourself, yet operate in some sort of place of perpetual self-loathing, do your neighbor a favor & just leave them alone! But seriously, love, care, & provide for yourself & it’s then, & only then, are we able to love others well. And if there’s something in your past (or present) that haunts you, please get to a place where you’re able to forgive yourself (that may require getting some help, by the way). Generally speaking though, we all need to cut ourselves some slack. Most of us are just too hard on ourselves & the sooner we recognize that no matter how deeply we are flawed (& we are ALL deeply flawed), God’s Love & grace is even deeper (& broader & wider).
4) Love your enemies/those who persecute you. Yeah I know, I hate this one too but this is what elevates Kingdom living above everything else. Following Jesus is so much more than just a moral code or righting the wrongs of the world, it is about revolutionary love that is foreign to world & it’s systems. God’s love towards humanity is radical & he calls us to, “be imitators of God”, which means we have to do the stuff he does & be who he is. The bad news is: it’s impossible. The good news is: nothing is impossible with God & therefore through the work of the Holy Spirit we actually can walk all of this out.
Much love, Chris.