Believe in what? One might ask. I know the one thing I absolutely believe in – over everything else. And I stand on that belief. I believe in the living God – in the all sufficiency of God.
There’s an old tune that says… “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. You’ve got to be your own man not a puppet on a string. Never compromise what’s right and uphold your family name. You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” I don’t recall who sang it, but a Google search gives credit to Aaron Tippin. I thought it was Randy Travis. My point is that’s where we seem to find ourselves today. We believe just about anything we see, hear, or read. How many people in this very educated, very prosperous nation take the time to test the veracity of what they ingest as truth?
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)”
As I thought about it… I considered, my husband who tells me he loves me everyday, multiple times. As I was talking to God today, I said…”Lord, thank you for the husband you sent me. I never have to wonder if he loves me. I know that he does. He tells me and shows me everyday, many times a day. I think he almost believes it himself.”
We tell our loved ones (often, I hope), that we love them. Why? Well, probably because we want them to always be secure in that knowledge. At least that’s the one reason I tell my children that I love them. Do my children believe they are truly loved? I would say – yes. Although, two would argue I love one more.
So, when someone says “I love you.” Is it something to be taken at face value? Well, yes. Unless, another truth dictates different. In the context of family we accept that to be true and we want it to be true. We want all children to feel love. As they grow and mature we want them to trust in that love. Still, the news media hits us with the cold reality that – that isn’t always the case, and that makes us skeptical of others.
As adults – love can be complicated. Why? Well… because people lie. I don’t believe that all people lie, especially when it comes to expressing love for someone they care about. Love is something that has to be verbalized, but it has to go beyond words. It must also be expressed. Some people may hunger to hear those three simple little words – eight letters total. Would I believe it if a stranger said those words to me? Probably not. Would I believe the words of a stranger who simply says, “God loves you?” Yet again-probably not. I was reminded of something Rich Mullins is often quoted as saying…
“I grew up hearing everyone tell me ‘God loves you’. I would say big deal, God loves everybody. That don’t make me special! – Rich Mullins”
And I wondered – does God really love everybody? If He does, then no one is special since God has given everyone the same measure of grace. Then I thought, but everyone doesn’t love God. So, how can God love the person that loves Him, the same as the person that doesn’t love Him? I love children. I love my children more because I gave life to them. And no matter how much I love other children, they may never return that love, and certainly not to the degree they would love the one that gave them life. Am I going to deny any child food, shelter, or compassion? Of course not. And my children don’t have to ask for such things from me, because I willingly give to them. It’s my responsibility to provide for them, and also a promise to them. When my grand daughter was born, I chose to obligate myself to her rearing. I didn’t give her life, but she was my blood. I believe that’s how God loves. Yes, He can love everybody, but I believe His love is greater for those whom He has given life, those that have accepted His unconditional love and that have reciprocated His love. And like the parent whose responsibility it is to care and provide for the child, God does likewise, even when the child rebels.
Again, still we hear of the twisted things that people do to each other in the name of love. And making it worse is the lust that rages through the flesh that is often mistaken for love. Clearly, this world has a twisted view of love.
I have been researching, but I don’t recall reading anywhere in the Bible where Jesus ever told anyone directly “I love you.” Although He did say that as the Father has loved, so have I love you (John 15:9-12). The Gospel of John noted that He loved one disciple in particular (John 13:23). He spoke about love, (John 3:16) but He always demonstrated love by the acts He did for others, even if the love was not reciprocated. The healing of the ten lepers comes to mind (Luke 17:11-19). And we can look to the greatest act of love He demonstrated – hanging on a cross.
“I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity, but because there were people willing to be nuts and bolts. – Rich Mullins”
Most people, at some point in their lives have experienced, or will experience love – unreciprocated. Does it prevent you from loving others? Well, for most people, Christian and unbeliever alike, that depends on the circumstances. Should that be the case with God’s children? Never.
God almighty sacrificed His Son because He so loved us. There was no greater sacrifice. And how did we repay Him? And still Jesus accomplished His mission. God’s unquestionable love for His creation is found in His Son.
If we should believe in anything it should be in the all-sufficiency of God.
This time of year we celebrate the life of the One that shed His blood that we might have life. We shop unto debt to show, or perhaps to prove our love to those few family and friends that probably return our love. Very few people will give to the one that doesn’t reciprocate the love. If anything, this time of year we make it a point to keep a healthy distance from those that we can’t stand to be around.
That infant in the manger, is the man that came to die for the sins of the world. That infant is the Man that hung on a cross. His life, death and resurrection we celebrate during the Easter holiday. The birth of that little baby, the center of attraction on every nativity scene – that little baby Jesus is the reason we celebrate. Whether the birth took place this time of year has always been questioned, but not the point here.
We know that this holiday is not about the blue light specials, or black Friday, cyber Monday. It feels good to get gifts, but it’s much better to give than to receive. It’s greater still to demonstrate and share the love of God that was made manifest in a manger over 2000 years ago.
Jesus is the reason for the season…
Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken. – Rich Mullins
“Genesis 17:1 “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”