I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;

With my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89: 1

 

In our world thoughts and expressions of love are easy to find and highly prevalent. Love can be found on almost every street corner and in most of our gathering places. We pledge it to other people, and we express it for everything from snack foods to vacation locations. Yet, we live in a lonely and a frustrated society that is filled with unfulfilled yearnings and painful rejection and loss. With so much love afoot, there are very few people who seem to know it at a deeply personal level. Although there is a great deal of chatter about love, there seems to be only a slight glimmer of understanding of it in our world.

 

So, God wants us to sing a different song than the ones that are popular in our days. This is why God wants us to sing about His love for us. This is the need behind His desire for those whom He loves to express that love openly and publicly. The Lord has no personal need for people to let Him know that we love Him. God is aware of everything, and He is absolutely secure in this knowledge and in His position. When we express our love for God, we are the ones who benefit. It is this expression that helps us solidify in our hearts and our minds the fact that God does love us in ways that are total, absolute, and unchanging. He quite literally brought love into this world which has become heart sick with sin. Christ came into our world in an act of sacrificial loving of all of humanity so that we all could know God’s face-to-face embrace of love in this life and for eternity.

 

Still, knowing God’s love in a profoundly personal manner is not enough. Christ does not intend for each of us to keep it to ourselves. His heart is pained by the loneliness and the fearful anger that people endure while attempting to live in this world. Our Lord wants to be the salvation and the restoration for the hearts of each of these lost souls. That is why He implores His people to sing out in choruses of recognition and praise for the reliable and true love that is ours from God and in Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of God, we also gain in our understanding of His love in ways that should make its expression to others a part of who we are. God’s infinite and perfect love is expressed when we reach out to embrace the unlovely, when we yield our comfort for the rights of others, as we speak truth regardless of the personal risk, and in our world through lives that are openly and freely committed to Christ.

 

 

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We urge you, brothers, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

1 Thessalonians 5: 14

 

This is something that I don’t really want to admit. Yet, I have been all of the people that are described in the first half of this verse, and my way of behaving has certainly required God and the people around me to need to exercise patience. There may not have been any instances when I picked up the furniture and threw it around the room, but I have been angry and frustrated to the point of acting very badly in the presence of others. My personal failure to trust God and to proceed through life with the courage that is fueled by this trust has happened far too many times. The utter exhaustion that comes from living in this hostile world has taken all of the energy and the will to keep going out of my legs on several occasions.

 

These are all times when God’s direct and personal involvement in my life has been incredibly meaningful. The Lord never leaves me in a weakened condition for any longer than I require to understand my responsibility for my situation and to trust in God’s answer for it. Frequently, the truth that brings me out of the troubled state is provided by people who seek and understand the Lord’s wisdom, and who are willing to follow Christ’s model of engaging honestly in people’s lives. It seems that frequently Christ’s voice is heard coming from the mouths of people in my community of faith.

 

The hardest aspect of this process of engagement is probably God’s requirement that we do it with patience. When I have taken the personal risk that is required to enter into a hard conversation with someone, I am ready for that person to embrace my insight and wisdom and just get on with it. However, this is not the way that most of us function. Real change of the sort that beings about Christ’s transformative living takes time. Truly walking through life with others demands that we set aside personal agendas and timelines and embrace God’s view of people’s needs. In the end, God wants us to do what is truly primary to Him; that is, He wants us to enter into true relationship with others.