Becoming Christlike

My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I love every person in my life all the time.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I want to help every person I love.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I learn how to express my love to people as individuals, not just as a group.
None of this growth will take place until I yield to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, teaching, patience and forgiving. (That short list is not exhaustive.)
     That trunk has compartments that contain all the forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet.
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small my qualification was to be a receiver of that love, and how much better my life is now because of that love.
     The best, most effective, most accurate way I can glorify God is to let the Holy Spirit make me like Jesus. "God...decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." (Romans 8:29, The Message Bible)
     The Holy Spirit will do the shaping of the way I am. My role is to allow such changes to happen and then behave in ways that exhibit my new shape.
     Do we Christians spend more time, money and energy trying to change our physical "shape" into the way the world says it should be than we do allowing the Spirit to alter our spiritual shape into the way God wants it to be?

Love

     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, caring, forgiving and some occasional foot-washing.
     Our trunk has compartments that contain an inexhaustible amount of all forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can match each recipient with the proper form of love at the appropriate time. 
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small was (is) my qualification to be a receiver of such love and how much better my life is now because of that love.

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     The Bible is a love story...not a romance, but a love story none-the-less. It is a story of love freely offered, but often rejected. In the cases where that love was accepted the result was wonderful loyalty, joy and power in each individual's life.
     It is a love story featuring you and me, just as much as Biblical characters.

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     I have grown up with the idea that as Christians we should "Love the things God loves and hate the things God hates."  I think "...and with the same intensity" should be added. This may be an accurate summary statement of being and living as a Christian.
     It seems lately that the intensity of our hating is much greater than the intensity of our loving.

Loving Others ?!?!?!

Loving other people is dangerous. Loving other people can cost us time and money. Loving other people can cause us to travel to frightening places and spend time with frightening people. Loving other people can result in us being with “others” when we would rather be with “our own.”

For children of God, is loving other people a command or an option? Mark 12:31 answers that question for us. And that love for others is to be demonstrated by doing  and sharing,  not just talking and preaching. It expects us to love individuals, as well as groups.

Such love is impossible for us to achieve and maintain unless we are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. The “filling” will provide us with the desire to love and the “led” will  show us how to love. When we feel we are unable to do either of these we need to emulate the love of Jesus and daily choose the life-style described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.

If, for some reason, we want to measure the extent of our love, we need to go to that passage and substitute our own name for the word “love.”  (Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.) Isn’t it wonderful to know that even though we don’t yet love like Jesus does, He loves us anyway and the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us.

 

 

The Ten Commandments in the Classroom

Recently a copy of the Ten Commandments was hung in each fifth grade classroom in the Middleville Elementary School.
     Marian, whose parents are Orthodox Jews, asked "Mrs. Johnson, do you go to church on the Sabbath or on Sunday?"
     "I go on Sunday," her teacher replied.
     "My daddy says the Sabbath is the right day to worship. The new poster on the wall says we should worship on the Sabbath. Who is wrong, you or my daddy?"   
     Jimmy's daddy pastors a Pentecostal Full Bible Independent Baptist Church. He asked "Mrs. Johnson, what is a 'graven image' anyway?
     "Well Jimmy, a graven image is a picture or statue of something that people think looks like God and they worship it instead of God."
     "Well, my daddy says the Catholics like Susie and Johnny worship the statue of Jesus that is in the front of their church. Do you think my daddy's right, Mrs. Johnson?"
    About that time, Robert raised his hand and asked "Mrs. Johnson, what does 'keep it holy' mean on number four?" 
     "It means we are not supposed to work on that day."
     "Well, golly, my daddy owns the Dairy Queen down on Locust Street. He says Sunday is his best day. Is my Daddy wrong for working on Sunday, Mrs. Johnson?"

     Just then Mrs Johnson noticed that Saboni, the little dark-skinned girl whose grandparents came to the U.S. from India, was about to cry. "What's wrong, Saboni?" she asked.
      "I don't know which god you are talking about. My mother and grandmother say there are many gods. You are taking about only one god. Are my mother and grandmother wrong, Mrs. Johnson?"

     Mulladi, whose father always wore a turban to P.T.A. meetings, spoke up next. "Mrs Johnson, why do you worship on Sunday instead of the Sabbath?"
     "Well, Christians moved the day of worship to Sunday from the Sabbath in order to celebrate when Jesus rose from the dead."
     "My daddy says that story is a lie. He says Jesus was a good man, but the story of him coming out of the grave is a story made up by his followers. Is my daddy wrong, Mrs Johnson?"

     Each of the families paid their school taxes. That tax money was being used to promote religious ideas that undermined what they were taught at home. Is this the way Christianity should promote "Honor thy father and mother?"
     

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 2

Loving the unlovable was—is—a major Christ-like quality all his children need to develop.  We can never love in the way and to the extent He does, but with the aid of the Holy Spirit we can always become more loving than we are now.

It’s much easier to love those who look like, act like and think like us than to love those who are different from us. The tribalism that is so rampant in our world today is a  strong indication of how much we have wandered away from the Heavenly Father.

Jesus loved me when I was unlovable. I was about as unlike Jesus as any human could possibly be. He proved his love by leaving heaven, living a perfect life for thirty years, disappointing his family, accepting the hatred of his home-town leaders, being abandoned by his father and dying on the cross.

We may spend much of out time in eternity praising Jesus for loving the “unlovable different.”  And I will be front row center.

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In Acts 26:16 Paul stated that Jesus had “appeared” to him so he would be a “witness” of all things he had learned and would learn.

Can I be anything else and still be true to his desire for my life?

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As a Christian I should view the past through the lens of gratitude, the present through the lens of obedience and the  future through the lens of expectation.