Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Faith, Hope, & Love

Lately it has really been on my heart to share a thought. Especially in light of world events happening, and even so many events in our own country. The thought can really be narrowed down to one word. This one word could change a life. Save a life. Or even the lack of it could end a life. This word: Love.
As I have gone through school and am now trying to manage the "real world" I have seen how love has lost its core meaning. Sure we love our spouse, our family, our friends; but that is where it seems to end. We live in a selfish society, and I will be the first to admit that my knee jerk reaction in most situations is for me. But as Christians, as human beings, is that how we are supposed to live? Why is it so easy to condemn someone because of a belief or bad past? Why do we write people off for making poor life decisions? Does it really make you feel good if you judge and separate yourself from those who have "messy" lives?
At the end of my first year at college I read something and decided that I wanted to pursue a life that exemplifies everything in that short passage. Many who read this have heard it numerous times. At weddings, around Valentine's day, or at church. Most associate it with romantic love. I want to challenge you to read this next paragraph in a different light. Imagine how your lifestyle could change if you applied EVERY phrase to each interaction you have throughout your day.
 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 
As most most see this, they think of what a wonderful model for marriage, or a relationship. Which sure, it is exactly what you should use in a marriage, but go one step beyond that. 
Instead of arguing and bragging to your co-workers, why not listen and use discernment in conversations. When you hear your friends making fun of that certain kid in class or even a close friend that has wronged someone in the group; take a stand for them. Give smiles away to ANYONE for FREE!!! Even if they scowl back.
So far it seems pretty easy, right? No major sacrifices that make you uncomfortable. But here's where I'm going to get serious for a second. Now say someone you know has started living life openly homosexual. How do you react? Do you tell them all their sins, and say they need church. Do you stop talking to them? How many of us have written off someone with an opposing view for what we see as right? Did you LOVE them? What if it was someone who you knew has cheated on their husband multiple times, and they don't seem like they have plans of stopping. Do you give them the cold shoulder? A man with tattoos and non-traditional hair starts coming to church on Sundays. Do you assume he's trouble? 
Every person, no matter their background deserves LOVE. Are your deep dark secrets better and less awful than someone elses? Are you not equally separated from God through your sin than the person you're turning your back on? We ALL have ugly spots in our lives. We all live differently. We all struggle. Yet lives are lost, hearts are hardened, and generations separated from a lack of LOVE. You don't have to understand someone to love them. No one wants condemnation. Rather we as humans strive from encouragement. Why not choose to love those around you and encourage through action? Love transcends all barriers, even if people act like they aren't affected by it. Why do you think 90% of songs are about relationships? 
Every day we have choices. We have a choice to live selfishly. Or we can choose to live in a way that shows love to ALL people. You never know what life you can change by making that choice.
The passage I posted above is from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. I have made this passage an outline for my life and my attitude. I am by no means perfect at following it, but it sure is humbling to use it as my standard. God loves us this way. Who are we to love any differently when we commands us to love as he loves?! I challenge you to slowly make a life change. Love others. Not just those who you are comfortable around, but EVERYONE. Stand by someone who you see struggling instead of blocking them out. Be real! Don't act all high and mighty, cuz there is only One High and Mighty Judge. You are not it. LOVE!
Our generation of believers cannot grow if all we have is faith and hope. Love is what reaches beyond ourselves and draws others in. Want to know what would happen without it?? Just look around. Love is a commitment! You CHOOSE to remain faithful to a love promise, whether it be romantic or strictly platonic. So next time you catch yourself in mid-judgement, change your attitude and choose to love. 
My prayer is that choosing love shapes your life in a major way. I know that I would not be the person I am today if God had not called me love in this way. It is not always easy, it is not always natural, but in the end it can make a huge impact beyond what we are even aware of. 

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