Tag Archive: love


Loving Your Neighbor

be-the-church-1

Pastor Robarge encouraged us to be the church in this week’s message. Here are some thoughts by Karen Kennedy wrestling with some of the details of being the church. Enjoy!

Recently, I have been reading (actually re-reading and re-re-reading) “Generous Justice,” a book by Timothy Keller.

Keller takes on the subject of justice by searching the Old Testament accounts, and how Israel was set up to make provisions for those most vulnerable, which included widows, orphans, refugees and the poor. He then shows Jesus’ heart to this “quadrant ” as Jesus fitly calls “the least of these.”

Personally, the book is making me feel very uncomfortable. I wish I could say that there was some fundamental problems with his logic or something theological wrong with his conclusions, but there is not. I think he is correct on his assessment on what followers of Jesus ought to be doing. The problem is that I am not doing it.

Not that I am not doing some of it–I am. The problem is that following Jesus demands more than what I have been giving.

Let me expose more of my quandary through a biblical and then a real-life example:

When an expert of the law asked Jesus the famous question, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus doesn’t give an exact answer; instead he tells a story about a man who was beaten and left dead at the side of the road. The two who figuratively represented God, the priest and the Levite, ignored the man, continuing with their lives as normal. A Samaritan, who was considered the dirt of society, took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him throughout the night. His care continued the next day when he made arrangements with the inn keeper to look after the wounded man.

Jesus asks “who do you think was a neighbor to this man?”

What? The question was who is my neighbor? Not who was neighborly? Maybe the expert of the law really wanted to know who was his neighbor? And if he was to love that neighbor, maybe he thought he ought to know whom he should love. Maybe the expert was a list person, like me.

Unfortunately, I do not see a to-do “neighbor” list in this account. What I do see is a traveler who saw one person in need and immediately became committed into helping that person through his troubles. And this neighborly thing cost the traveler time and money, as well as a detour in his traveling plans.

And Jesus says this example shows that loving your neighbors involves mercy, and, at times, inconvenience, risk, money and sometimes danger.

A few weeks ago, in Des Moines, there was a fight that broke out with about 50 young teens. A lot of the details of what happened are still unclear according to the news. However, it was reported that a passerby in a SUV saw one of the teens lying at the side of the road, stopped and pulled the teen into her SUV.

What! I have a million questions to ask: “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you call the police? Don’t you know that you could have been sued by taking an underage child in your car without his parents’ permission? And was he bleeding? And if he was bleeding, weren’t you afraid of getting blood on your hands, and in your car?”

I think I am starting to sound like the possible scenarios (minus the SUV, of course) that the priest and the Levites could have entertained when they saw the injured man at the side of the road. Perhaps their minds filled up with logical reasons why they shouldn’t get involved, but the woman in the SUV, made a quick decision to get involved.

And Jesus tells us to “Go and do likewise.”

To me, that brings God’s second commandment of loving your neighbor to a whole new level. Not sure about you, but if the entire law and prophets now hinge upon loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, I need to do more than think about it. I need to stop being so convenience-driven and ask God to enlarge my heart, so that my actions line up with His heart of love. I need to stop with all the reasons why not to become involved and “go and do likewise.”

What are the things that you wrestle with concerning being the church? And what should  change so that you can show the world Jesus?

 

 

 

 

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When Samuel came to Jesse to anoint the one to replace the failing King Saul, it was assumed that the father would know which of his sons was best qualified. He did not. Nor did Samuel. All Samuel knew was that he wasn’t getting the high-sign from God in his heart as he looked at Jesse’s boys. There is a lesson for us here.

Never assume anything about your children. Their wisdom can exceed our own; their faith almost certainly can exceed our own; their trust in our ability to answer the most obtuse questions possible is amazing. The one that you are sure will qualify for Harvard may choose to go to trade school and become a mechanic. The one you assume will be a mechanic may turn out to be an MIT graduate.

Watch your children without any assumptions except that they need your love, guidance, and trust. They need your faith that God will guide their feet and minds. Our job as parents is to show our love to them equally, guide them equally, treat them equally, trust them equally, and show our pride in them equally.

sue wilson

Grace: Love that doesn’t make sense

What’s the one thing that the church has to offer that the world cannot get anywhere else? GRACE

There is no where else the people of the world can go to find grace. We do not live in a grace-filled world. In this world you get what you pay for. You reap what you sow. To all of us who are products of this way of thinking, it clearly makes sense. But, can you imagine a love that makes no sense at all? With God’s grace it is exactly that, it doesn’t make sense.

The following is an article written by Karen Kennedy. She is the Director of Publicity and Promotion at Gloria Dei. This is her first time as a guest blogger, so show her some love.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

In most garage sales there is always a table of assorted items. The items usually consist of old, unwanted, and outdated household wares along with old and sometimes tattered clothing. You sort through the myriad of items to find one that you cannot not live without. Of course, your friends disagree of its inherent value by commenting that it is a piece of junk. But you see its worth and proudly take it home.

In many regards, we are similar to the unwanted items at a garage sale. We are tattered, stained, broken, irrelevant, out-of-date, and yet God in his grace and mercy reached out and rescued us from all the  worldly elements to usher us into a new home.

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Ephesians 2:1-6 (Message Bible)

It is by grace, through faith, that we have been saved. Our salvation cannot be earned. It is undeserved, yet graciously bestowed on us. God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die on the cross for tattered and worn-out people—you and me. We are all sinners, we are all broken and yet we have a Savior who is larger than our old nature and our sin.

It is important for everyone to explore this foundational truth of grace. To know that God loves what is considered unlovable or has no value. It is a sweet, amazing grace, a grace that no one deserves but can be fully embraced and enjoyed.

Have you ever loved anything that was considered by most to be unlovable? Why did you choose to love it despite what people said? What does God’s amazing grace mean to you?

Please leave your comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks!

Holiday Sale or Christmas Promise?

My Pastoral supervisor in Freeport, IL always had a running joke. Every couple of months he would act very excited carrying a paper with him and wave it in the air while announcing, “JcPenny is having the biggest sale of the year!” Before you think he was one of those crazy JcPenny shoppers you have to know that he was really just being sarcastic. In the town of Freeport, JcPenny was always having sales and they always called it the biggest sale of the year. To their credit maybe every sale was their biggest of that particular year, but many people grew a little skeptical of “big sales” especially the ones that promised savings that had never been seen before.     

I was always taught that if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. Stores are not in business to lose money. If they lose on one item you can bet they will make even more on another. Because of some of the sales techniques that we have been exposed to we have become more than a little cynical.

What do we do with the circumstances concerning the birth of Jesus? A virgin that is pregnant, shady shepherds proclaiming his birth, God being born into flesh and blood, and many other parts. It all sounds too good to be true. But this is precisely the difference between a sales pitch and a promise from God.

Have we grown so accustomed to the Christmas season that when we see the Christ-child in the manger every year we ask, is it too good to be true?

Leave your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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